Managing eating disorders during COVID-19

Possible challenges they face

  • The uncertain situation of the pandemic may trigger unhealthy eating habits that individuals experiencing an eating disorder may use as a way to manage stress and feel more in control. These habits are already hard to manage in the first place, and this uncertainty further affects the recovery progress.
  • Due to increased social isolation, there may be fewer opportunities for friends and family to notice changes in eating patterns or any significant weight loss, which could lead to medical complications.

Managing symptoms

  • Work out a plan to take practical steps to change unhealthy routines. This could mean setting a schedule for regular meals, budgeting or preparing strategies to cope with eating patterns that you find problematic.
  • Record your triggers and what helps. Writing down your triggers and feelings helps you to identify your pattern, and take steps to manage them. Identifying helpful strategies also helps you to figure ways that work best for you to manage your symptoms.
  • Talk to people you trust. Talk to them about your problems and how you feel, and how they can support you.
  • Regular physical check-ups are important for people with an eating disorder. Make sure you continue to access recommended medical support.

Managing a crisis situation

  • Feeling that you have taken steps backwards or relapsed can be discouraging. However, it is important to understand that these are part of the progress. Focus on the progress that you have made, and be kind to yourself.
  • It is important to seek medical help if there is a deterioration in your physical health. E.g. if you notice that you are feeling light-headed or if you have lost a significant amount of weight.

How can friends and family help

  • Learn more about eating disorders
  • Let them feel your support. Let them know that you are there to listen, and they can talk to you whenever they are ready. Plan with them on how you can help with their recovery.
  • Try not to make any assumptions. Making assumption without listening to what they say can add to their feelings of out of control
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