Nearly 30 million people suffer with an eating disorder in the United States, whether that is anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or other forms of disordered eating. Having an eating disorder is a struggle every day, but with the added uncertainties of the current self-isolation and Covid-19 world, it can create a whole new set of problems.
Being under quarantine can be triggering for a lot of people with eating disorders by raising the likelihood of a relapse, a reemergence of symptoms or more difficulties recovering. Eating disorders are often used as a coping mechanism to help curb negative emotions, which are abundant during this uncertain time. The behaviors that come with eating disorders (whether that is restricting food, purging, binging, etc.) often give a sense of ease and comfort for these individuals. Thinking about food or planning every meal meticulously serves as a distraction from the current world events taking place.
The Coronavirus has disrupted the routines that are sometimes vital for those recovering from eating disorders. They are unable to go to routine therapy meetings/group therapy, grocery stores are not stocked with the normal foods that are sometimes needed for meal plans that carve the way to recovery, and gyms are not open to do normal workout routines that some have come to rely on.
Those who are currently in the midst of struggling with an eating disorder, especially those with anorexia or who are immunocompromised, are exactly the type of people who are more likely to be affected by the disease Covid-19 as their immune systems are weaker.
“It varies depending on the severity of the eating disorder; however, people’s immune systems are compromised in various ways during any heightened period of stress. This can be evident due to improper nutrition and lack of sleep, which can impact the ability of the body to regulate,” said Student Support Specialist Alex Aronson.
Trying to recover from an eating disorder or even just curb the negative thoughts that come about every time you try to eat is not something that is easy, but there are ways to help.
“There is no specific coping strategy or skill that will help everyone who struggles with an eating disorder, but it is important to stay connected to a support system and remain in contact with the team of nutritionists, doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, etc. It is important to be open with your friends and family about your concerns and any possible relapse. In addition, continuous work with a therapist can be beneficial to process through the underlying cause of an eating disorder (for example a sense of control, perfectionism, peer comparison, anxiety, etc.),” said Aronson.
If you need help, please email one of the school counselors, Ms. Aronson or School Psychologist Bradley Rush. You can also also call the National Eating Disorder Association at 800-931-2237 or text NEDA to 741-741.
Beat Eating Disorders
Eating Disorder Hope
The Emily Program
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders