Prioritizing Recovery During COVID-19

by | Eating Disorder Recovery

It’s a scary, confusing and unsettling time for all of us. Bobbi and I at Courage to Nourish are very grateful we can still connect with our clients virtually and provide a bit of support during the coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my clients and those in the Instagram community during this time and what these changes may mean for them. Many of us are spending more time indoors, less time with friends and more time alone. It wouldn’t be a surprise if mental health takes a hit. Not to mention various eating disorder and diet culture triggers that may pop up. Moving less, eating more “processed foods,” spending time with family members who police food, having more time and feeling less “productive. These can all lead to increased thoughts/guilt surrounding food. I wanted to write this blog to offer a form of support during the coronavirus pandemic and touch on some reminders for recovery:

Eating less “fresh food” is completely fine. 

We likely don’t need to stock up on groceries, however, many of us feel safer having some back up food available, just in case. One of my clients went out to buy groceries for the week. She texted me, not knowing what she should get for breakfast. Especially because a lot of the shelves were cleared out. She said the only option the store had was cinnamon buns, so she just grabbed them in the moment. We were able to talk about how cinnamon buns, although her eating disorder finds them unacceptable, is completely and totally okay to eat, during this pandemic (and also anytime). Fresh foods just aren’t going to last us as long as things like rice, pasta, beans and other canned goods. These foods will also provide us with more nutrients than fruits and veggies and keep our bodies fueled. Again, these foods are essential if you’re trying to limit leaving the house. But they are also totally acceptable to eat, anytime.

Create a schedule for yourself. 

Especially if you’re doing online classes or working from home. Some of my clients prefer to create an outline for the entire day, while others do okay with having a general task list. I’d also recommend planning in time to relax. Perhaps you could consider working for an hour or so and then taking a 15 minute break. During this break you could meditate, call a friend or read a chapter from a book.

You don’t have to be “productive.” 

I’ve been seeing posts circulate about picking up a new hobby while social distancing. While this might be helpful for some people, it’s also 100% okay if you don’t pick up a new hobby or clean or work all the time or get ahead in all your school work. To be transparent, this is something that I’m struggling with. If I’m spending more time at home, with less to do, shouldn’t I be doing all these things to grow my business? I’m reminding myself it’s okay to relax and take it day by day. 

Step outside. 

If you have the luxury of having a porch, balcony or a backyard, try stepping outside for a bit! If your city/state officials aren’t recommending a shelter in place, try going for a quick walk. This walk isn’t to burn calories or exercise, but instead move away from the confines of your home. Or perhaps open your windows to breathe in a bit of fresh air.

Remind yourself: It’s okay to move less. 

Most of us are already aware that gyms and other group fitness classes are closed. Not only that, but most of us are staying indoors as opposed to running around and attending to our usual errands. Your ED might creep in and make it seem like your body doesn’t “deserve as much food.” Your body still needs fuel. It’s okay to snack on random things out of boredom or stress.

You can rest and take a break from movement. 

Along the same lines as moving less, it’s also acceptable to rest or take a break from movement completely. Especially if you do not enjoy the types of movement you can do at home.

Emotional eating is okay. 

And last but not least, here is a reminder that emotional eating is normal. Eating due to stress or boredom or confusion is okay. It doesn’t make you a morally “bad” person. We cope with uncertainty and fear in different ways. Sometimes that comes out through food. Instead of thinking of yourself as a failure, try to think of this coping tool as resilient and something that may be needed during this time.

And lastly, I wanted to make a quick comment on social media. Bobbi and I created a handout on Tips for Social Media. Many of the suggestions on this handout apply to social media self care during the outbreak and could provide support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Check out my previous blog about Tips for Improving Body Image.

Bobbi and I are here for you! We are able to see current and new clients virtually. We are happy to work with you one on one or point you in the direct of online resources. If you need additional support during the coronavirus pandemic or other wise, feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how we might be able to help.

Alex Raymond, RD, LD, CEDRD

Alex Raymond, RD, LD, CEDRD

is an eating disorder dietitian in private practice in College Park and Columbia, MD. Alex specializes in treating individuals struggling with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. She practices from an intuitive eating model and enjoys working with individuals to improve body image. She is a passionate Health at Every Size © advocate and anti-diet dietitian. Alex provides eating disorder nutrition counseling in College Park and Columbia, MD. Alex's College Park office is walking distance from the University of Maryland. Follow her on Instagram: @courage.to.nourish

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