Eating Disorders and Coronavirus

Beat urgently needs your help to keep our services running, as there are very serious risks to our funding. Major fundraising events have been postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus and many of our key funding partners are now unable to support us. So we need your help now. Every donation, whatever the size, helps us to provide support at this difficult time to anyone affected by eating disorders. Please donate here.

We'll be updating this page as the coronavirus situation continues so please do check back for updates and contact us if you’d like more information or support. Please do ensure you follow the government’s current coronavirus guidance which you can find here.

Coronavirus is understandably causing a lot of stress and anxiety, and we know that things may feel very uncertain right now. If you have an eating disorder, or are supporting someone who does, you might have specific worries or practical concerns to do with the illness or treatment. We’ve listened to the issues you’ve raised and, with the help of eating disorder clinicians, put together the guidance below to try to respond to the most common ones. Carers can find out more about supporting someone during the current situation here.

We also want to reassure you that our support services will continue to be here for you during this time, including putting extra provisions in place, such as our new online group open during helpline hours for anyone with an eating disorder. Our Helpline team is set up for home working and we’ll be ensuring this works smoothly in the coming days, so please do continue to get in touch with us as usual and we’ll do our best to give you the support you deserve. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our supporters who are fundraising and donating which has meant we are able to continue providing our services at this time.

Coronavirus and Your Health


Food and Excercise

It could be good to talk to people in your support network about meal planning, what foods you feel comfortable with, and what support you can put in place during mealtimes. They can also help you to think about substitutes for things you’re really struggling to get hold of.

Planning in advance and writing things down can help lessen anxiety and encourage you to stick to your plans. You could try a traffic light system on your meal plans, noting which foods are safe (green), challenging but manageable (amber), or very challenging (red) – meals involving more red or amber foods could require more support, and you could plan to have someone with you during those meals, over Skype or FaceTime if they can’t be there in person.

Think about which safe foods have a long shelf life – while we know there are issues with getting hold of non-perishable food in many areas, by planning as far ahead as you can, you may be able to gather the food you need more slowly. You could make a backup plan if you do have to buy more perishable food, and make things in bulk and freeze them. You could also let a group of trusted people know what foods you’re missing so they can pick them up for you if they see them.

If you find having your meals affected is causing you lots of anxiety and making you want to purge or over-exercise, it could be helpful to make a note of distraction techniques to use during and after a meal.

Lots of advice around avoiding the urge to binge is still helpful when thinking about coronavirus. You may find a meal plan helpful, and limiting the likelihood of bingeing due to hunger by eating three regular meals and three regular snacks a day. If your binges are triggered by emotions, a way to support yourself could be thinking through BLAST -are you Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed, or Tired? Try and make a list of distractions for each of these categories so you have an action plan for each of these scenarios. It may be that if you’re in isolation someone is there with you and will be able to help take your mind off the idea of bingeing, but there are lots of things you could do on your own, from reading to laundry to playing a game.

Think about whether you could keep food somewhere less accessible – could it be stored in a lockable cupboard that someone else has the key to, for example, or could you even think about storing some food at the houses of friends or family members?

Having to step outside your comfort zone or having to put your food shopping in someone else’s hands can be really scary. If you write your anxieties down or talk about them with another person, this could help them feel less powerful.

There are a few different ways to get hold of food without going to the shops yourself, including getting someone you trust to go for you or ordering online. There may also be a scheme in your area where you can ask a volunteer to collect food for you. Think about what you would feel the most comfortable with. If someone goes to the shops on your behalf, you could speak to them on the phone while they’re there if it would help.

Giving yourself permission to rest if you have to self-isolate is important, but we understand that this can be really challenging. It could be helpful to make a list of reason why it’s important to not compensate if you’re not able to exercise – remember your body still needs nutrition to carry out its normal daily functions. You could also refer back to anything you’ve found helpful in your journey so far so you can remind yourself why it’s so important to sustain positive changes you have made. This may include things like mantras and recovery goals.

Routine and Socialising

Other Information & Support

Difficult Emotions

During times of social distancing, you may find yourself ‘sitting with your emotions’ more often, and may have not have access to tools that might have distracted from uncomfortable feelings.

BLAST Advice

You may find it useful to use the BLAST technique. Think about what kind of things help you to feel better when you’re Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed or Tired.

The Sanctuary

Set up in response to the Coronavirus, Sanctuary is open throughout normal helpline hours.

The Haven

The Haven has been created for those that need a distraction and safe space away from discussion about Coronavirus.

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