The current situation around the world has caused an increase in anxiety among public because of the fear of food shortages and not being able to carry out with normal daily activities. People with eating disorders are more at risk because of this. Anxiety could trigger a return in negative behaviours that causes people to stockpile food and binge (McMenemy, 2020). Among all mental illnesses, eating disorders tend to have the highest mortality rate because it is difficult to identify and treat (Specter, 2020).
People diagnosed with eating disorders have followed strict daily routines, so they can recover. These routines include taking a walk, going to the gym and picking up lunch at a particular time so it prevents them from overeating the rest of the day (Baird, 2020). Not being able to step out of houses to follow their routine due to the minimization of social contact could lead to an increase in guilt because (Landsverk, 2020) it increases the chance of them indulging in behaviours that they have been successfully avoiding so far (Specter, 2020). People who tend to binge avoid keeping a lot of food in their houses (Baird, 2020). But, with the increase in anxiety and being surrounded with messages on social media about people panic buying food and coming across memes about staying at home and putting on more weight (Hensley, 2020) causes people to stockpile on food (Baird, 2020).
Increase in anxiety leads to feelings of lack of control (Hensley, 2020) that may result in people buying more food than what is needed (Landsverk, 2020). This perceived lack of control causes people to turn to food because from their perception, they are choosing what to eat, thus, they are in control (Hensley, 2020). There are ways for us to be in control. One of the ways is to practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness causes an individual to be more aware of their actions and to not view themselves in a judgmental manner. Being aware and not viewing themselves in a negative light result in acceptance of thoughts and emotions about themselves and the situation. This gives them control over their emotions, they are able to cope through adversity and avoid unnecessary eating (Tumolo). Other ways include homecooked meals where people are in control of what they eat. Homecooked meals are associated with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Thus, making the meal healthier. Drinking enough fluids through the day also prevents overeating and has other benefits such as increasing mood and attention. Hence, being more aware of your actions. Even though you may no longer prefer to visit the gym given the current pandemic, you could develop a new workout routine at home with the help of YouTube videos (Kubala, 2020).
While working from home does increase the chance of developing negative eating habits, practicing mindfulness creates more awareness of your actions and you are able to prevent yourself from adopting negative habits. This is a challenging period and although social media is a way for us to connect with the world, if it is increasing your anxiety, try to limit your social media usage. Netflix instead! Watch funny movies or read a book and take this period to develop new and healthy routines. Contact friends who are also staying at home and form a network of supportive people to help you get through this period!
Baird, A. (2020). The Coronavirus Outbreak Is “Like A Nightmare” For People With Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/addybaird/coronavirus-quarantines-eating-disorders-recovery
Hensley, L. (2020). Why the coronavirus pandemic is triggering those with eating disorders. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/6735525/eating-disorder-coronavirus/
Kubala, J. (2020). 13 Ways to Prevent Stress Eating When You’re Stuck at Home. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-prevent-stress-eating-when-youre-stuck-at-home
Landsverk, G. (2020). Coronavirus anxiety and quarantining could increase eating disorder risk. Here’s what to look out for. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/coronavirus-anxiety-and-quarantining-could-increase-eating-disorder-risk-heres-what-to-look-out-for/ar-BB11B7Fc
McMenemy, R. (2020). Coronavirus and eating disorders: ‘I feel selfish buying food’. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-51962964
Specter, E. (2020). For Eating Disorder Sufferers, Self-Isolation Comes With Added Struggles. Retrieved from https://www.vogue.com/article/eating-disorders-coronavirus-2020
Tumolo, J. (2020). Mindfulness May Protect Against Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.psychcongress.com/article/mindfulness-may-protect-against-eating-disorders