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COVID pandemic causes spike in eating disorders

COVID pandemic causes spike in eating disorders

White House: National eating disorder hotlines have seen a more than 70 percent spike in the volume of calls and chats since the pandemic started.

WACO, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone’s health both physically and mentally and it has done so in different ways.

“Since the pandemic we’ve seen droves, especially of adolescents, coming in and suffering,” said Kat Geiger, the founder of Thrive Wellness in Waco.

President Joe Biden and The White House officially proclaimed this week as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in hopes of drawing attention to an increasing pandemic of its own, calling eating disorders “one of the most serious mental health conditions impacting the lives of Americans and their families today.

According to the proclamation, the pandemic has been a challenge for those with have an eating disorder and said hotlines have seen a more than 70-percent spike in the volume of calls since the beginning of the pandemic. Hospitalizations are also up, having doubled in that same timeframe.

“Eating disorders are very isolative struggles, we don’t talk about them, even when somebody presents to a therapist anxiety or depression or an adjustment struggle, like being in college for the first time,” Geiger said. “it’s just unlikely unless you’re really looking for it that you’re going identify that this person has an eating disorder.”

Geiger, an Eating Disorder Specialist, said 10-percent of the general population has an issue with an eating disorder.

“Out of every ten people you meet or see today when you walk around or go to H-E-B, you are seeing people that have eating disorders that are actively suffering,” she said.

Geiger admitted that, as a society, we inadvertently push and support eating disorder behavior by pushing for diets.

“Stop moralizing food. Stop saying “look at you being so good having that salad,” stop saying “you’ve been bad today because you had a cookie,” Geiger explained. “Stop moralizing a specific body shape.”

“It’s so hard on our bodies when we do that. We see liver enzymes go up. When we lose a tremendous amount of weight we can see our white blood cell count go down and that’s not great in the time of Covid. So, it can really cause a lot of physiological harm that yo-yo diet cycle.”

Geiger said that it will take all of us to help those who need it the most and have suffered in silence for so long. She said learning how to and then creating a healthy relationship with food is imperative.

“Embrace intuitive eating. Listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry, stop when your full and trust that your body is going to tell you the types of foods that you need,” she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please all the National Eating Disorder Association at (800) 931-2237. If you want to contact Thrive Wellness Waco, you can do so at (254) 327-1408, (254) 300-7032 or e-mail them by clicking here.