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COVID-19 stress may be triggering eating disorders

Experts advise seeking help from a professional counselor or dietitian to help you overcome your eating disorder.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Living in unprecedented times can cause a roller coaster of emotions and bad habits to develop. Eating habits and the culture surrounding food has changed during this pandemic, and eating disorders may be amplified. 

“We have less social contact so that can often mean eating less meals or enjoying meals with community or family and the change of pace with visiting restaurants or the type of food we’re buying or preparing, as well as the access to food has changed, as well as the emotions behind what’s happening during COVID-19," said TAMU licensed dietitian Keri Carpenter.

Eating is a part of our daily routines, but routines have changed during COVID-19. 

“Some people might live at home and now they’re eating by themselves or their home routine or work routine has become a little more stressful and changed completely. So what I recommend is try to create consistent eating times and that can be very helpful, creating that routine, as well as caring for yourself in other ways," said Carpenter.

Bryan ISD director of counseling Donna Willet said there are several signs and symptoms of eating disorders in students.  

“There could be rapid weight loss. Changes, up and down in weights, students in regard to how they feel, maybe they feel dizzy, they’re faint, they don’t have a whole lot of energy. It could maybe mean damage to their teeth. If they’re vomiting regularly, maybe their teeth could start to look different. There’s also that psychological changes that could be a part of this. Maybe they become anxious, maybe they become irritable,” said Willet. 

More often than not, it takes time to see that someone is struggling with an eating disorder. 

“The first thing we encourage is to go see a family doctor. A student that is not giving their body what they need is going to affect them in the long run... That’s the physical side. Then again there's the psychological side. It may take things hav[ing] to change in regard to your self image,” said Willet. 

Positive self encouragement is one way she said helps with your self image.

Both experts advise seeking help from a professional counselor or dietitian to help you overcome your eating disorder.