Mental Health

COVID-19 Encourages Eating Disorders

COVID-19 and the implications it has brought have been challenging for all. Many people are losing their jobs, struggling to bring food to the table, and experiencing deteriorating mental health from the lack of social interaction. For those with eating disorders, the fight has only gotten tougher.

Although the toilet paper frenzy has died down and grocery stores are beginning to adapt to customers’ new needs, inventory is still unpredictable. This constant unsureness only eggs on the desire to binge and can cause many to purchase more food than necessary. This tendency doesn’t only affect those with eating disorders. For most, empty aisles in the grocery store triggers panic. The natural reaction is to buy even more resources so your pantry won’t be comparable to the shelf you just raided. Because this mindset can even affect those with healthy eating habits, one can only imagine how much harder it is to shop with a binging disorder. Additionally, the types of food that many consider shelter in place staples (pasta, rice, frozen meals, etc.), are the same ones that those with eating disorders tend to avoid. While those in recovery are able to gradually reintroduce these types of food into their everyday lives, it is extremely overwhelming to have to make this transition in such a short amount of time. This only leads to full pantries that go untouched and in some cases, even more restricted diets.

One of the few things that sheltering in place has offered us is time. However, for those who have diagnosed or developing eating disorders, this may worsen conditions. This new lifestyle that lacks structure makes it much easier to skip meals and resort to bad eating habits. For those who are suffering from this disorder, having control is of the utmost importance. A recovering bulimia patient, Rosey, explains how COVID-19 has negatively impacted her efforts to recover. “To have everything I knew and had control over, including how I managed my illness, ripped away has been one of the hardest things.”

Another contributing factor to the increase in eating disorders is the introduction of social distancing. While this only means remaining 6-feet distance from others, many who are struggling with disorders will isolate themselves. This only strengthens the illness due to the lack of distractions and support. Since these restrictions have caused the closing of rehabilitation facilities, patients who are recovering have turned to tele-healthcare services. However, most are dissatisfied with these programs and believe that treatments are “somewhat” to “much worse” than they were previously.

In closing, it is vital that those who are suffering from an eating disorder take the necessary steps towards recovery. These times bring challenges and personal battles for us all and it can feel like the only direction you can move is backwards. However, when the days seem to be blending into each other, keeping a meal plan, including a sense of structure, spending time with those you love, and of course, seeking help of any kind, will aide greatly towards improvement.

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Categories: Mental Health