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Living with an eating disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic

Bodywhys give advice to those living with an eating disorder during the lockdown


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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The current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has left most people in a state of uncertainty, with regular routines and lifestyles turned upside down. For people with an eating disorder, this situation can be even more so upsetting and scary, as fears can arise that the pandemic will make an eating disorder worse. In recognition of these fears, Bodywhys, the eating disorder association of Ireland, have published advice for those living with an eating disorder during this time.

Living with an Eating Disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic

Living with an eating disorder (ED) can already cause daily feelings of fear and panic, and we know that the current situation has the potential to make this worse. EDs are strange illness and often go against what we know is best for us, but for some people with ED the current situation may bring a sense of relief. The fact that we are instructed to stay at home, can give people an opportunity to look after themselves and learn from others around them about how to do this. 

Bodywhys highlight that in this current situation the world is showing you that you don’t need to do anything (exercise-wise) to deserve to feed yourself. Everyone is staying at home and everyone is eating properly. It is important to remember that nothing awful will happen if you also allow yourself to stay at home, rest, and feed yourself.

Addressing ED concerns 

“Doing nothing”

"Doing nothing" can be a triggering feeling that ties into feelings of being "lazy". If you are feeling this way it is important to remember that your ED will want you to feel lazy and will try to make you punish yourself for "doing nothing". If you follow the thought through you can see how the ED is using this idea to punish you. Feeling ‘lazy’ can lead to fear of eating and actions of restricting food, binging or purging and feeling worse about yourself. Furthermore, acting on these thoughts can lead to weight loss, weakening the immune system and becoming ill. 

The reality is that no matter what the situation there are no "shoulds" about what you do or don’t do. It is perfectly ok to do nothing, to "be lazy", to rest, to allow your body and mind to rest and to nourish yourself with regular food.

Eating routine

It is really important to put in place a regular routine for yourself as quickly as possible. Routine is the practical aspect of trying to recover from an ED. A routine around eating means a routine in digestive system, regular physical effects of eating, more regular mood and clearer thoughts and feelings. Remember that for once it is not only the person with an ED who needs to have a routine and regular eating, it is helpful for everyone. 

We are all in this together

Everyone is going to be feeling strange and anxious at times. These are normal feelings, so watch how other people deal with them. Hopefully, they will still nourish themselves with regular eating, and they won’t feel the need to over-exercise. If you have an ED, this could be an opportunity for you to see how you are a person like everyone else. You are able to eat regularly and nothing awful will happen. Resting, staying at home is ok.

Support services 

Bodywhys Supports:

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic?

This situation is completely new to everyone involved and it is normal to feel worried or anxious about what is going on. Following the Government’s instructions on how to stay safe and help slow the spread of the virus, can help to make you feel more in control of your current situation.

If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You're worth talking about and we're here to listen and support you.

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Published March 25th2020
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