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Learn / How COVID-19 Affects Those With Eating Disorders: 12 Tips for Staying Healthy

How COVID-19 Affects Those With Eating Disorders: 12 Tips for Staying Healthy

With permission, we are sharing the following post written by Fiona Yassin, Clinical Director at The Wave Youth Clinic:

“I feel like I am sharing a living hell with my Eating Disorder.”

The current challenges of COVID-19 and isolation are affecting young people and challenging those with Eating Disorders globally.

Eating Disorder Recovery or Remission

Eating Disorder recovery or remission is based on routine. Our routine and your routine is likely to have been impacted as the world moves into a new way of organizing time, resources, work, down-time and just about every aspect of life. It’s tough. It’s challenging. It’s even more difficult when your life and recovery depends on routine. Eating Disorder ‘Recovery’ is a life saver. Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental health illness. It is also often found to be a battle for those with other mental health concerns; depression, anxiety, obsessive behaviors and often affects the most vulnerable amongst us. Those who have suffered from the effects of childhood or other trauma.

Isolation Is Difficult

The current advice to isolate is essential. It is not without challenge. Isolation is incredibly difficult for those with mental health concerns, addiction and eating disorders. In fact, it’s everything that we usually avoid.

Panic Buying, Over Stocking, and Obsessions on Food

Scrolling through news feeds, we watch in wonder; as we see panic buying and over stocking of kitchens in every corner of the world. Stocking with staple, long life foods; pasta, rice, frozen breads. These are often the ‘fear’ foods in Active Eating Disorders. We learn to manage but often in an environment that is not full or overstocked with potentially fear inducing produce. Add this to the fact that in many locations ‘safe’ foods are not readily available (fruits, vegetables, fresh produce) and we have a recipe for constant worry and old obsessions to fire up. There is the constant talk of gyms closed down, comfort foods on the up, supermarkets closing, restricting services, home deliveries and take aways; days are suddenly surrounded by over or under, more or less and most certainly about food subjects. In recovery from eating disorders, we encourage and manage thoughts and preoccupation with food. It seems that this is tricky right now.

Support Is Essential

Usual face-to-face therapy services are being suspended, whilst support groups are being cancelled and the routine is thrown further into chaos. It is essential to build a network of support that can help through the period of restricted movement, WhatsApp groups, video chats and online therapy and nutrition support.

12 Tips on How to Help Yourself During This Time

  1. Create a new routine. Commit to it.
  2. Talk. Talk more. Talk again.
  3. Help others to understand your fears.
  4. Be sure to attend online therapy (Our teams are online during this time to help you to keep up with individual/group and family therapy). Attend online meetings and support groups as close to your usual time as possible.
  5. Take the opportunity to join support groups all over the world and enjoy the possibility for new friendships.
  6. Buy only what you need. (Yes, that includes loo roll too 😉)
  7. Arrange online delivery to prevent unnecessary trips out, stay focused and ask someone your trust to check your shopping basket before you hit send. (It keeps us all safe too).
  8. Set a budget.
  9. Stick to an exercise routine that you enjoy. Avoid doing more than normal, even if it is at home.
  10. Join our live video ‘*meal at home*’ groups. Eating together from afar can be safe and fun! Video your food preparation, presentation and show the plate to your therapist. It’s another way to be connected.
  11. Keep a journal. Write about your feelings.
  12. Keep a watchful eye on depression and anxiety. Reach out when you need to. (Our psychiatrists are online for consultations).

Most of all stay safe. We are here if you need us.

The Wave Team @Transitions House
Excellence in Young Minds

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