What is the current situation with my eating disorder, my immunity and the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus affects people who have a low immune system, on a positive note not all people who are experiencing an eating disorder have a low immune system. Speak to your GP as they will know your history and they can give you informed and personalised advice.
All people are advised to:
- reduce social interactions
- keep a distance of 2 metres between themselves and other people
- not shake hands or make close contact with other people where possible
We still need to apply the advice from the government and stay safe and self-isolate
What is the best way to communicate with my therapist right now?
At the moment most therapists are offering their services online or over the phone. If this has not been mentioned to you, reach out and ask them if it is available. You may have never had a therapy session online but it is a good alternative way to communicate with your therapist and recovery work can still get done and be your focus at this time.
What if I cannot get hold of the foods I need for my meals?
In the last week it is very true that a lot of supermarkets’ stock went down when it was announced by the government that we were to practise social distancing until March 29th. However, supermarkets have not been closed and have been restocked so there is plenty of food still available.
How can I avoid binging if we are also stockpiling for self-isolation?
Eating three regular meals and three regular snacks a day will help. Binging can be brought on by under eating, make sure you are eating enough at meal times. If your binge is due to emotions, think of ‘HALT’ - Are you Hungry? Angry? Lonely? or Tired? Make a list of how you can deal with all four in a positive way without using food. Reach out and talk to a friend, read a book, the list is endless. Imagine if you were symptom free, how would you like to spend your time? Or apply Anita Johnston Metaphor for feelings and food as described below.
Food as a Metaphor for Feelings
“Discovering the deeper meaning of our hunger means learning the language of metaphor. Through the use of metaphor we can begin to see how our most feared or favourite binge foods speak to us and for us. When we are physically hungry and crave a food, there is no metaphor present. However, when we are physically hungry and we deny ourselves food or when we are not physically hungry and we crave a food, we enter the world of metaphor and symbolism.” – Anita Johnston, Ph.D.
Food Cravings - Questions to ask yourself
In what way is my life not sweet enough? When do I feel that I am not sweet enough?
Smooth, creamy foods
Where in my life do I want things to be smoother, easier? Are things feeling too hard or rough?
Crunchy, salty foods
At whom or at what am I angry or frustrated?
Where in my life am I longing for emotional warmth?
Do I have enough excitement or stimulation in my life? Am I missing that? Do I need change in some area?
What am I craving sexually? Do I long for romance? In what ways is sensuality absent in my life?
These are some metaphoric cues to get you started. Sometimes the symbolism of the food is connected to memories associated with it and you might be longing for some past experience. Forbidden foods can speak to us metaphorically about things, feelings, or experiences that feel forbidden. Other times the actual names of the foods carry meaning that might be significant to you. The ways and situations in which you might typically eat the food can also be symbolic.
If I am self-isolating how can I exercise?
It is very important not to restrict food when you are self-isolating. Your body and brain still need good nourishment to sustain its daily function. Give yourself permission to have downtime at this time, as any type of eating disorder can be very stressful on the body and mind. This can be a really good time for you to go inwards and bring more awareness into the condition. Re-focus on your recovery goals. You can still go outside for some fresh air and a gentle walk.
Eating Disorders thrive in isolation - What if being isolated elicit my condition ?
Keep it simple.....
Have structure to your day where possible.
Getting up at the same time every day and getting dressed can make you feel better about yourself.
The Coronavirus is not an excuse for you to hurt yourself with food by overeating, binging or restricting.
If possible, do some gentle exercise like yoga or breath-work after rising, this sets the tone for the day. We all have things that we have been putting on the long finger and say to ourselves when we have more time we will read that book or finish that Jigsaw or ring a friend. Now we have the time! Spend time writing in your journal or as mentioned before, take out your recovery goals and see can you update them or can you work on any of them from home.
You may already have the awareness of what are the early signs of your triggers, if so reach out and ask for support, we may be isolated but we are not alone. Have a group online chat with friends. Take each day as it comes or each second if you have to and breathe. Have trust in trust and faith in faith.
Over the last years I have been letting my clients know about amazing podcasts online that can help with eating disorders and some great books. You may find them of interest to you at this time.
Book – 50 Ways to Self-Soothe without Food by Suzan Albers
Book- Eating in the Moonlight by Anita Johnston
Podcast – Body Kindness (It’s Free)
This too shall pass.
Michelle x x x