The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes to people’s routines, schedules, and lifestyles for over a year now. At Jessie’s Legacy, we are also aware of and concerned about the shift that the pandemic has brought to people who suffer from an eating disorder, those who are in recovery or have recovered, and people who are experiencing a different relationship with food and their body during these difficult times.
“Open hearts. Honest conversations.” is a podcast series by Family Services of the North Shore that aims to bring the community together with honest discussions, practical tools and techniques, and a vulnerable dive into mental health topics.
In this episode, we talk about the harmful ways the pandemic has impacted many people’s relationship with eating and body image, as well as how to start a conversation about disordered eating with someone you are concerned about.
This episode covers several aspects of COVID-19’s effects on our relationship with food, our bodies, fitness, and even comparison to others.
In this episode, you’ll find us covering points such as:
- The way disordered eating and eating disorders exist on a spectrum of thoughts and behaviors and affect more than just one demographic
- The pandemic disrupting our normal routines and contributing to feeling differently about our relationship to health, fitness, and food
- How eating disorders thrive in secrecy and pandemic isolation has made it easier for dangerous behaviors to return
- When life is feeling chaotic, one major thing we can control is what we eat and this can then become a significant point of focus
Joanna Zelichowska, the manager of Jessie’s Legacy, talks about how eating disorders are more than just about calories, restriction, and diets. “When we’re feeling a lack of control about our environment and external world feels chaotic, that can trigger a motivation to find something to control,” she explains. “Often, the things that we can control that don’t require other people or rely on outside structures is food. Eating disorder symptoms function as a coping mechanism to regulate and ground the person when [the outside world is chaotic].”
“Anything that might have been a challenge or struggle pre-pandemic, the conditions of COVID-19 have created a perfect storm to exacerbate symptoms for people with eating disorders such as isolation, anxiety, and uncertainty.”
She states that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused such a significant change in our routines that it may cause distress in ways that are new. “We might be feeling differently about ourselves when we’re not able to engage in our normal routines and ways of taking care of ourselves. It’s no surprise that people are experiencing a shift in their relationship with food, and how they’re relating to and feeling about themselves,” she says.
If you’re interested in listening to other podcast episodes from Family Services of the North Shore’s “Open hearts. Honest conversations.” series, please click here for the full library of podcasts.