Pandemic Disordered Eating Fueled by Diet Culture

Pandemic Disordered Eating Fueled by Diet Culture

Woman wearing face mask

Being in quarantine or social distancing can be highly triggering to those who suffer from mental health and body image issues. In fact, it is probably safe to say that almost everyone is experiencing a form of anxiety or stress due to the fact that all of our lives have been flipped upside down.

Weight Gain Is Not Problematic During A Pandemic

Diet culture wants us to believe that we need to be productive and to use all of this “extra” time for self-improvement. It is a system that is set up to profit off of our guilt and insecurities regardless of the social climate. The situation we are in today is absolutely going to affect our bodies because our daily habits have been changed. These changes will probably lead (or have already led to) some weight gain. The diet industry wants us to think this is a problem that can be fixed with all of the supposed extra time we have as a result of the pandemic. The truth is that we are in survival mode.

Practice Self-Care

People need to practice self-care in order to deal with what is happening in the world. And I’m not talking about the type of self-care that diet culture peddles with their shakes, creams, and exercise programs. I’m also not talking about engaging in measures to be more productive or taking up practices that may expand your horizons. Please don’t feel pressured to write a book, start a business, or learn a new language. Remember that we are all in survival mode. What I am talking about, is the kind of self-care that truly makes us feel better. This will look different to everyone.

Self-Care Is Self-Love

I like to think of self-care as being interchangeable with self-love. Self-love requires improving your well-being and includes taking time for yourself, even though this may not be so easily done right now. Anyone who has children can attest to that. What you need to do right now are the things that make YOU feel good. If that means baking lots of tasty treats or sitting on the couch eating chocolate, then do it. If exercising or journaling helps you, then do that. Or take time to do both.

Your Size Does Not Define You

Our bodies are constantly changing throughout our lives and this is just one moment in time. It’s important not to hate your body because of weight gain. Now more than ever, you need to show your body some love. Your body does not need to be fixed. Not today, not tomorrow, and not when all of this has passed. And it will pass. Your body needs to be respected and thanked for what it does for you every day. Your body allows you to live your life and its size does not define you.

The Pandemic Can Trigger Disordered Eating

This may be easier said than done, especially for those who are suffering or recovering from eating disorders. This situation can increase disordered eating thoughts and behaviors as well as create physical situations that may trigger bingeing or binge-purge action. If you are suffering from an eating disorder this is a crucial time to reach out for help. There are plenty of online resources and virtual therapy appointments available to those who are in need.

Connect And Then Disconnect

What is truly important right now, is sharing our experiences and our struggles so that we feel connected. Whether it’s sharing a funny meme about eating all the snacks, posting a photo of what you are wearing (or not wearing) to your home office, or taking time to virtually connect with a friend, you need connection to thrive in this state. But sometimes it’s also just as important to shut it all off. The media (including social) can increase anxiety and feelings of sadness which is why it’s important to limit your time on it and instead focus on content that is meaningful and positive.

Focusing on what’s real, honest, and good is more important than the “improvement” of your body. Do not let diet culture take advantage of this imperfect situation. Practice self-care, stay connected, and stay home.

Emily is the founding editor of Happy Daughter, a body positive online community for women. She is a body image expert, who is passionate about promoting positive body image, media awareness, and healthy relationships. Emily is getting ready to release her book, Body Positive: A Guide to Loving Your Body in January 2021.

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