Fighting food: Eating disorders escalate post COVID

Annie Myers, Staff Writer

“We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase,” announced Anthony Fauci, the American leader of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for a report in an NPR article by Bill Chappel. With this in mind, and COVID-19 cases affecting fewer people internationally, it may be beneficial to contemplate the flow of change that every person experienced these past two years. 

Lots of people tried changing their lifestyles and diets as they began working virtually from home; however, eating healthy wasn’t on everyone’s mind. Amidst a worldwide crisis, most were fixed on surviving the year and not forming healthy meal plans. Although COVID-19 affected people differently, everyone on earth was affected by it and we all went through it in real-time. 

Social media was a big reason so many people chose to start their fitness journey if not the only one. But, it failed to include the people with different health complications that have no means of losing excess weight. 

“There was and continues to be widespread discourse across all social media platforms about how not to gain weight during COVID,” stated Tristan Barsky in an article about eating disorder behavior during the pandemic. “As a result, many people have begun to equate self-improvement during the pandemic with weight loss or changing their eating habits.”

An important part of people becoming famous as online health icons is being aware of your audience. The problem with excessive weight loss and dieting media is that it shouldn’t be shown to many people like those who struggle with weight gain; yet, these are the majority of the people who watch those videos, read the articles, and lose weight that may have been helping them stay at a healthy body mass. 

Of the numerous people who absorb this media, a giant amount are trends that influence children and teenagers. These kids don’t usually consult a nutritionist before starting a diet.  With little knowledge about what they’re doing, how they should be eating, or the healthy relationship with allowing themselves to take in certain foods, these new eating behaviors are causing a catastrophic amount of failing diets. These may end up as eating disorders which include, but aren’t limited to anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and a rabbit hole of other eating disorders that many haven’t even heard of before. 

“People with eating disorders also experienced restricted access to the resources that often help them improve their mental health, including fitness centers, regular health care visits, and therapy,” concluded Devon Frye in a post on the Psychology Today website. When places like gyms shut down for a few months, it was natural that many people would lose the motivation to care for their mental and physical health at home. 

With everything known about the sudden increase of eating disorders and the COVID-19 pandemic slowly becoming less of an international emergency, there’s still ways to control eating disorders to a certain degree. While many people successfully recover from their disorders, numerous cases last for a lifetime or result in death

“I find that whenever I eat, it’s best to eat around somebody I feel comfortable eating in front of,” states an anonymous person explaining their troubles in recovering from an eating disorder. They advised themself to “not look at any numbers and not take mental notes of what I’m eating throughout the day.”

“You are the most important member of your treatment team,” shares the Mayo Clinic Staff in an article following ED treatments. “For successful treatment, you need to be actively involved in your treatment and so do your family members and other loved ones.” In addition to many different forms of therapy, the Mayo Clinic Staff suggests that “a registered dietitian,” “medical or dental specialists,” and even “your partner, parents or other family members” could benefit your recovery by stepping in as well. 

EDs can cause immense trauma to someone’s mental and physical state. To battle the stress that both EDs and school lends –which we can all agree goes against our personal lives– it can be difficult to stay on two feet. Consulting some form of medical professional is extremely helpful in one’s mental recovery.