Hundreds of headlines blare daily warnings about the dreaded “Covid 19” pounds packed on during these long pandemic months. Americans are locked out of their local gyms and yoga studios, locked down in their homes, and locked away from friends and family members for support. What isn’t locked down are the refrigerator and pantry, and comfort food eating is on the rise. What impact is this having on your health, and what can you do about it?
First, the good news: “Much like the myth of the ‘Freshman 15,’ which has been disproven through numerous studies, the ‘Covid 19’ phenomenon is more myth than reality,” declares Jennifer Lombardi, a certified eating disorder psychotherapist at Kaiser Permanente’s Eating Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program in Sacramento. That doesn’t mean there is not a problem though.
“Since the shelter-in-place orders took effect across the country, what we have seen is a significant spike in both disordered eating and diagnosable eating disorders. As a clinician in this field for more than 17 years, I have never seen [this] level of critical acuity, and I hear the same sentiments from my colleagues across the country,” Lombardi shares, referring to the scope and severity of the problem.
“With the pandemic, we have the perfect storm: isolation, change in structure and routine, and boredom,” she observes. “For those who have already been struggling with depression and anxiety, these factors can be the tipping point.” For some individuals, she notes, bingeing and mindless eating follow.
What can you do? “For individuals struggling with their relationship with food, one of the first recommendations is to take a step back and observe what has shifted and when.