Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Since the COVID lockdowns have begun, there has been a significant increase in calls for help from people living with or are at risk of developing eating disorders. Research has shown that the lockdown has ramped up bulimia, anorexia, and binge-eating symptoms amongst people around the world. In the initial stages of the lockdown, people suffering from anorexia began restricting their diet even more than usual. On the other hand, bulimics and people with binge-eating tendencies were prone to satisfy more of their urges and gave into their over-eating episodes more often.
Obsession and Isolation
One of the major reasons is social isolation. Being alone with one’s thoughts and without anyone watching can give people the freedom to feed into them. Eating disorders are usually kept private, and these behaviours thrive in the time of complete isolation. It becomes easier to relapse and staying at home all day means there is much less to do and more to stress about. As regular routines have been disturbed, so have regular eating habits.
Social Media Makes It Worse
As expected, the void that is left by social isolation has many people logging onto their social media and spending many hours online. This is making matters worse for those with an eating disorder. There is a constant message of effectively using free time in quarantine, being productive, and getting fit. This constant pressure to do something worthwhile has also led to increased negative self-talk and anxiety. Being constantly smothered by online posts about home workouts and making keto meals can make people feel pressured.
With the gyms being closed, some people may start overworking themselves through these workouts to achieve the perfect body. Others find it difficult to get off their Netflix binge and limit their snacking. At their very core, eating disorders are a result of emotional disorders. Social media is putting unrealistic expectations out there, which is aggravating the situation.
The pandemic has brought uncertainty in every aspect of our lives. Food insecurity has become rampant. People want to stock up on their “quarantine pantries,” which can also trigger compensatory and binge-eating episodes. Misusing laxatives, inducing vomiting, fasting for prolonged periods of time, and excessive exercise are only a few behaviours that make eating disorders worse for people who suffer from them.
The added food scarcity triggers more anxiety in people with disorders about food-related decisions. Those struggling with these disorders may find it difficult to adjust if their normal grocery items are not available at the store. While somebody else might find it easier to find a substitute, people with eating disorders do not always have this choice, which can be quite distressing.
The Counselling and Wellbeing Centre can help you deal with your eating disorder. Call us at 07 3891 2273 for more information or to schedule an appointment.