Eating Disorders in the Military | Banyan Philadelphia

Eating Disorders in the Military


An eating disorder is not subjected to a specific group, anyone can fall victim to the disease, including members of the military. With constant training and consistent weigh-ins, the pressure of the military can result in poor eating habits or even a potential eating disorder. Although mental health is correlated to the cause of eating disorders in many circumstances, eating disorders in the military are not as recognized or vocalized as other mental health disorders.

Despite the rise in attention towards eating disorders for all genders, medical providers in the military are usually not trained to notice the signs of disordered eating among service members. Due to the lack of treatment options and continued focus on strenuous fitness plans and weight goals, service members suffer in silence.

Causes of Eating Disorders in the Military

Strict Weight Standards

In the United States Military, there are weight mandates that are based on a service member’s gender, age, and height. Although there are safe ways to reach these specified targets, many service members strive to meet the standards of the physical readiness test, which begins to alter their daily lives. In order to achieve specific weight requirements, service members resort to restrictive eating, self-induced vomiting, or even binge eating.

It can be difficult trying to notice the signs of an eating disorder just by looking at the individual. The soldier can look physically fit and meet the physical readiness test while still suffering from an eating disorder.

Mental Illness

Connections have been made between the existence of eating disorders and endured trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that occurs when an individual is suffering from a traumatic event. PTSD as well as other mental illnesses such as anxiety (which is very common with eating disorder cases) can all put a soldier at risk. Service members can use disordered eating as an escape from the trauma that they are suffering from.

Eating Disorder Treatment in the Military

Many service members with eating disorders go undiagnosed, this is a result of many reasons. One is the stigma behind the condition. Eating disorders in the military are considered by many a sign of weakness or helplessness. Because of this, it makes it difficult for an individual to seek or ask for help. If one actually builds up the courage to express their problem it then becomes a process of accessing treatment.

Service members and their families may find it difficult to find treatment for an eating disorder, some reasons including insurance stipulations or even fear of getting discharged. The team at Banyan Philadelphia makes it their mission to understand and personalize treatment plans based on the specific needs of military service members.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, contact the Banyan Eating Disorder program today, (844) 700-5105.

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Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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