Dealing with an eating disorder during a pandemic

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We’ve got to admit – in the midst of this pandemic, our routines, anxieties and especially our eating habits seem very out of kilter. Between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK have been affected by an eating disorder, and even if that doesn’t apply to you, many of us have experienced the overwhelming feeling of being out of control, and being stuck indoors is conducive to this.

For those who have been diagnosed and suffer from an eating disorder like binge-eating disorder (BED) or other specified feeding or eating disorder (OFSED), staying indoors and having 24/7 access to the cupboards can cause a lot of distress, to both body and mind.

It’s also a tough time for those who haven’t been diagnosed, but frequently suffer from binge eating episodes. It’s likely that if you’re working from home or are staying home during the current COVID-19 crisis that you’ve never spent this much time in such easy reach of the fridge.

Frequent binges can lead to weight gain, which in the long-term can potentially lead to heart disease and diabetes, and struggling with bingeing can certainly cause mental anguish and lead to mental health challenges such as depression.

If you’re struggling with binge eating, keep your eating habits in check with these tips.

Dealing with an eating disorder during a pandemic

Comparison photos

Before and after pictures are a man’s best friend. Keeping them on display in a place you’re regularly visit, like magneted to the fridge door or pinned against the cupboard, is a good motivator before grabbing a handful of snacks. It may give you the boost you need to not undo your hard work.

Keep busy

One of the main factors to consider at the moment is the necessity to stay inside. Having a regular routine with planned mealtimes is a fantastic way of staying on track with your eating. If you’re considering having a snack and you’re not sure if those are hunger pangs or boredom setting in, try an activity first. Challenge yourself to 50 keepie uppies or go for your daily walk to boost those endorphins.

Be mindful of food

Putting down the remote control and paying attention to the food in front of you can help your body increase the feelings of being satisfied and means you’re less likely to eat more than you need. According to Cara Stewart, dietician and nutritionist, it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send satiation signals to your brain, so enjoy this time and you’ll be less likely to reach for the crisps later.

Have a drink 

We often mistake hunger for being thirsty (and we don’t mean for beer!). Having a bottle of water to hand is a sure-fire way to know whether you’re truly hungry and it’ll keep you from overeating during the day.

Remove your trigger foods

In our current climate, wasting food is a no go, so we’re not saying to throw anything away. However, if you’re partial to a donut and can’t stop at just the one, then move it out of view or ask a member of your family to hide it.

Make sugar your friend

The whole, unprocessed sugars you find in fruits are called natural sugars. These natural sugars stop your refined sugar cravings (found in sweets, cakes, biscuits etc.) from becoming irresistible. If you feel your blood sugar levels dropping, snack on slices of apple or defrost some frozen berries and this should help you fight against the need to reach for a chocolate bar.

Up your protein

Increasing your protein is guaranteed to keep you feeling fuller for longer. If you’re peckish between meals, storing freshly boiled eggs in the fridge or grabbing some slices of ham are low-calorie protein sources that will be a welcome pick-me-up.

Keep a journal

It may sound very Bridget Jones, but studies have shown that keeping a tally of your food and emotions helps many stay on their weight loss path. Writing everything down aids in determining patterns in low mood with emotional eating. These thoughts can help control a binge or even prevent it from happening altogether. Start journaling with an app or with the great old-fashioned pen and paper.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Chat to a mate, talk to your family or pencil in a Zoom call with your MAN v FAT Football teammates, as opening up about how you’re feeling can be a weight off your shoulders. Not only that, you never know who maybe feeling similar to you. Having a support network at this time is important so that you’re not feeling alone in this.

If you’re finding that you’re really struggling with frequent binge eating episodes or other disordered eating, and it’s affecting your mental and physical wellbeing, it’s worth going to see your GP or contacting the eating disorder charity Beat. Getting help can make a world of difference, so don’t struggle in silence.


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