Posting Jokes and Memes About Weight Gain During COVID-19 Is Not OK – Allure

Posted: March 21, 2020 at 10:48 am

Ella, a 30-year-old New Yorker who has dealt with an eating disorder since the age of 12, isnt a fan of these memes, either. "Everybody's joking about eating all their quarantine snacks," she says. "And sometimes that's what people do. Sometimes people indulge a bit, and that's normal; that's part of moderation and how people eat. But I'm also fighting the battle of my binge tendencies and my tendency to be like, Oh, well, I already did one 'bad' thing, let me just blow it all to hell. How do you compute those two extremely similar parallel thoughts, and still keep them distant?"

While the abundance of food might produce one form of anxiety, the opposite end of the spectrum is also a trigger minefield. "[A fear of food scarcity] is very much part of having an eating disorder," McCormick explains, noting that all of the panic-buying at grocery stores has created both real and perceived scarcity anxiety for everyone, which can be exacerbated for someone with an ED. "So this kind of joke makes a mockery of eating disorders," McCormick adds. "It invalidates how brave everybody is being in this, if theyre experiencing this scarcity. Because for some people, it's very real."

The combination of isolation, lack of structure, and either abundance or scarcity of food has been a triggering set of circumstances for folks with eating disorders. Heather Senior Monroe, LCSW, director of program development at Newport Academy, a series of centers for adolescents and families struggling with mental health issues, tells Allure that eating disorder behaviors are often coping mechanisms to deal with outside stressors in a persons life. "During this uncertain time globally, some people with ED histories could relapse as a means to cope with the ever-present stress of the unknown," she adds.

While its important to stay informed, its also valuable to prioritize your own mental health.

For Ruth, a 16-year-old living in Ireland, staying home has greatly exacerbated her ED symptoms. "Theres so much time to think about things, pick out all the 'flaws,' and obsess over food," she says, adding that she feels "imprisoned" by her thoughts. "I cant escape them. The isolation has put me in a bad place, mentally."

Even without the backdrop of a pandemic, eating disorders can be incredibly isolating conditions. With so much secrecy involved, EDs have a way of infiltrating friendships and relationships, and might cause someone to feel completely alone. "When someone has an eating disorder, eating socially is no longer fun, since managing food takes up such a great deal of time and energy," Rago says. "As people recover, they are able to connect better with people they care about. But as social isolation is encouraged or enforced, people can tap back into some of the desperate and lonely feelings that are part of the eating disorder."

For those in recovery, managing known triggers and implementing coping strategies is key. But lately, some people are finding it difficult to stay on a positive track simply because those tactics are no longer an option. Ella says that being out of her normal routine has been "somewhat jarring," adding that she has grown accustomed to having meals at specific times during her workday, which has helped her maintain healthy habits. But now, that routine has been completely halted. "Being at home, Ive noticed some things started to creep in. Like, forgetting to eat breakfast until noon and then hearing that voice in my head that would tell me to act on a symptom, or to act on bad habits that I've fought for so many years," she says.

Anna, a 26-year-old who has been battling bulimia for almost a decade, also finds that recent circumstances have interfered with her recovery. "As a general practice, I try not to have a lot of food in the house to avoid binging on it," she says. "I usually only shop for a few days at a time, but I had to stockpile a lot more last week." Like Ella, she reports the emergence of dangerous thoughts, adding: "I'm still fighting my ED triggers every single day."

The most important thing to remember if youre struggling with ED triggers is that youre not alone. If you have a therapist, consider arranging regular sessions over the phone or video chat, or reach out to trusted friends and family members. "If you have someone to share with so you can check in, it will help you be aware of triggers and not act on them," Rago says.

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Posting Jokes and Memes About Weight Gain During COVID-19 Is Not OK - Allure

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