This is a very difficult time for everyone, and we are all struggling in a manner of ways. Even those with healthy and good relationships with food are finding this time challenging. It’s really okay to struggle. However, now more than ever it is important to open up to an understanding friend, family member, or medical professional, or look to Beat for coping strategies and mechanisms. We are being encouraged to social distance ourselves but that does not mean we should hide or suppress our mental struggles.
In terms of exercise, walks and home exercise – my personal favourite has been dancing to Zumba tracks in my garden – are very achievable. Take the time to consider how you are feeling. If your frustration about not being able to exercise is arising out of unhelpful, compensatory thoughts than other tasks such a craft session, yoga, starting an online course and meditation can be a good source of distraction and can give you the mental satisfaction.
Not having access to safe foods is probably the biggest challenge I’ve had to face so far. These few weeks have been incredibly bizarre and it’s very strange to have food that is physically rather mentally unavailable. In a time of national food insecurity and making do with what is still available in the shops has not been the easiest. However, lessons I have learnt through successfully living in maintenance has helped me navigate and make the right choices through this uncertain time.
I would recommend using this time to really question why you only feel able to buy certain foods or specific versions. Is it because you genuinely prefer it or are too daunted from the prospect for diverging from safe, knowable and comfortable foods? A mantra that has helped me is that food is fundamentally fuel and in times where food choice is scarce any product or variation will keep you nourished, energised and is part of a balanced diet. These are key qualities for staying healthy and well. If your usual safe, familiar brands are unavailable please remember that going without is it not an option. It might be daunting varying from brands you trust but it is very important you make the right choices to fuel and nourish yourself.
Sometimes it really is not easy. Sometimes when I wake up and know I’m struggling mentally, it is incredibly hard to rally myself to venture out of my shopping list comfort zone. However, in times such as these when I’m literally left with no choice but stray from safe, trustworthy foods/brands, these little tests to my resilience will always be beneficial to my recovery. It certainly doesn’t feel like it now, but in time, challenging any rigidity in my thinking and making more impromptu food choices is such a valuable skill. Continuing to overcome different food obstacles and challenges will always be necessary in recovery. As food challenges go, feeding myself through a pandemic was not what I had in mind, but nevertheless the healthy coping strategies that I will develop through this period will stay with me for the rest of my life.
If you're worried about coronavirus, you can look at our guidance addressing some of the questions around the impact of the illness on eating disorders. You can also join our new online support group, the Sanctuary, set up to support anyone with an eating disorder who may feel worried and isolated right now.
Self-isolation is hard for everyone right now; everyone with an eating disorder is aware that there is pressure on every single person’s mental health.
These two posts, written two years apart, show how Mel managed to overcome a lot of the anxiety she felt around shopping for food.
Covid-19 is doing strange things to my perception, my lungs, my mind. And strangely, I am also thinking… “Phew, I’m glad I’ve been locked up before!”