Managing an Eating Disorder During Lockdown

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Lockdown may affect your mental and physical health in many ways, and its important to be aware of them so that we can ensure we reach out for help if and when we need it.

One of the things many people may struggle with is disordered eating, and a potential return of eating disorders, or intrusive thoughts associated with their previous eating disorder.

Our bodies may be reacting to the dramatic change in routine, and this can mean a decreased or increased appetite, craving different types of food, or anxiety associated with food being heightened.

Even so, there is absolutely no need, requirement or advice to diet, especially if you are facing food insecurity at the moment. Our bodies are meant to fluctuate to adapt to different situations, and the situation we are in at the moment is incredibly stressful. Restricting or obsessing over your food intake could put unnecessary stress on your body, and this could contribute to entering the cycle of disordered eating.

The internet is also an unkind place to be right now, with many people shaming weight gain and making us feel like fluctuations in our body is something ‘wrong’. It is not shameful to gain or lose weight, it is not shameful to eat or not eat, and it is not shameful if you are having similar thoughts as you did during your eating disorder.

This is something I’ve had to make a conscious effort to deal with over the past month, and these are my top tips:

  • Listen to your body. If its feeling hungry, eat. If its craving fresh air, go outside for a walk. You do not need to obsess over if what you’re eating has too many calories while there is a literal pandemic happening.
  • Contact charities, such as BEAT, who can help you with your thoughts and feelings if necessary.
  • Unfollow/unfriend people who are sharing or sending you things that make you feel these ways.
  • Exercise is there for you to be active, strengthen your muscles and body, and get outside air. It is not a punishment for eating.
  • Your body is literally fighting for your survival in so many ways everyday, it loves you! Love it back, show it some kindness.

If you are helping someone with a potential eating disorder:

  • Listen to them. Trying to offer solutions can sometimes be more frustrating and harmful.
  • Try to reinforce positive messages, rather than agree with their negative thoughts about themselves.
  • Signpost them to specialist services if you feel they might be getting worse.
  • Be aware of what you are saying around them. Things like ‘I’m so fat’, ‘I’m gaining weight its disgusting’, ‘I only had 1 meal today #discipline’ are all attitudes that contribute to disordered eating, and it can weigh heavily on the mind when our friends are reinforcing those thoughts we’re trying to fight off.

Here are some support services you can reach out to:

BEAT: www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/support-services

NHS Website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/eating-disorders/

Worldwide List of Eating Disorder Help Charities: www.feast-ed.org/worldwide-list-of-ed-advocacy-organizations/

VP Welfare and Community

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