Managing disordered eating in lockdown

Since the UK officially went into lockdown on March 23rd, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of conversations, both online and offline, concerning our eating habits and our levels of daily exercise. 

By Tara Pilkington

As per the current UK lockdown rules, a majority of us are only allowed to leave the house for one of four reasons; to go to work if you are a key worker/unable to work from home, for one daily form of exercise, to purchase essential food/items or for medical purposes (whether this is attending an appointment or collecting medication).

For some of us, this may be an inconvenient change to our normal routine, but wholly manageable nonetheless. While for those with a history of disordered eating, the parameters of the lockdown offer very little respite or distraction from the anxiety that food and exercise can create. Especially as the only opportunities that many of us have to leave our homes are either rooted in the need to buy food or in the decision to actively exercise.

Eating disorders often thrive on loneliness and chaos, and the current lockdown conditions are the perfect breeding ground for both. Which is particularly exacerbating for those who are navigating this terrain while figuring out how to manage disordered eating. 

Even though supermarkets are starting to recover from the initial hoarding that took place when the lockdown was first implemented, access to food can still feel uncertain and some of us may find that our kitchen cupboards have been particularly full because of our reliance of stocking up on food during our weekly essential shops.

As we continue face endless discussions regarding our personal responsibility to manage our health during a global pandemic, the guilt that can be induced by what food we eat and how much exercise we are expected to do has gone into overdrive. However it’s important to remember, now more than ever, that food is not something that needs to be earned and the calories that we consume do not have to be mitigated by the amount we can subsequently burn off.

It’s also important to remember that during a global pandemic, your main priority is simply to survive. It’s okay if in the current conditions you find yourself snacking more and moving less. Gaining weight is not something that should incur fear and it is not a reflection of your character, worth or self control. All of us will experience the trauma of the current pandemic differently, and it’s okay if simple acts of self care feel particularly difficult at the moment. Something which I have found as a source of comfort at the moment is this quote by Pema Chödrön: 

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather”

For those who are balancing their recovery with isolation and social distancing, please contact one of the following places for support:

The Recover Clinic:

Photo by Dose Juice on Unsplash

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