Eating Disorders During Social Distancing and How to Help

Eating Disorders During Social Distancing and How to Help

Cynthia Jimenez , Reporter

If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder contact the national eating disorder hotline by going to their site or by calling (800) 931-2237

This time is a difficult time for everyone, parents are learning to manage and teach their children, students are learning to adjust to a new learning environment, and people manage new amounts of stress as they face unemployment. 


An eating disorder is not low self esteem, it’s a deeper complication where food becomes their world. It’s an excessively negative body image, they could be the skinniest person but think that they are overweight, body dysmorphia  can also play a part in this. A person with an eating disorder is obsessed with their weight and what they eat. There are many types of eating disorders, the two most common ones are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Anorexia nervosa, the most common eating disorder is where the patient has a distorted body image and has a fear of gaining weight, they try to stay skinny or lose weight usually by starvation or too much exercise, 1 in 5 anorexia deaths is by suicide. Bulimia Nervosa is another common type of eating disorder, the victim binges and eats an overwhelming amount of food they usually avoid, it can be in secret or in the open, but afterwards they purge their food by making themselves throw up, laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise. 


Isolation is an area in life where mental illness thrives, to prevent COVID-19 people depend on isolation. This time can affect almost anyone in unexpected ways. People are using social media now more than ever, and with increased screen time, they start getting bored, following more pages finding new people. Many “memes” are coming out saying things like “I’m gonna be so fat when I get out of quarantine” and many jokes relating to weight, appearance, and size. All of these factors can be really triggering for someone with a past of an eating disorder or someone with underlying symptoms. Many emotions are brought out during this time, emotions that have been buried deep down, but are now rising to the surface. It drives people to many different things which can be harmful. 

If you suspect a loved one has an eating disorder, reach out to them. Although they may push back at first, deny, and be defensive, approach them a calm manner, and make sure you remain open to them, so when they do decide to open up, it’s easy for them to reach you. Don’t be overbearing or mean about it, it’s a mental illness that affects their physical health, the solution may be simple from the outside, but it’s more complicated than that. Don’t shame them for it, in most circumstances they have no control over it, the illness alone is hard to manage. Encourage them to get deeper, more professional help, but only do this if they want to and if they have already opened up to you, forcing them is the opposite of helping. For a more detailed “how to” on helping someone with an eating disorder, visit this site.

Eating disorders are complex, although they seem simple. Hiding it can be easy, but take a toll on the victim. Seeking help is essential for healing and recovering from a mental illness. This time is hard on everyone, especially those with mental illnesses that have no access to the help they need. In order to end this time of isolation and distancing, staying home is mandatory, for everyone’s physical and mental health. 

Visit here for more information or help on eating disorders: National Eating Disorders or you can call this number  (800) 931-2237