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Eating disorders on the rise during COVID pandemic

Posted at 7:34 AM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 08:34:57-05

WACO, Texas — The last week of February is dedicated to Eating Disorder Awareness Week, an annual campaign to educate the public about the realities of eating disorders.

Nearly 29 million Americans will suffer from some kind of eating disorder in their lifetime.

Over the past decade, social media and diet culture have been detrimental to our youth when it comes to their relationship with food.

“Our culture kind of encourages diets and it encourages us to change our body based on some of the messages that we receive,” said Kaylyn Muscarello, primary therapist at Path Light.

Cases of eating disorders have risen and gotten worse since the start of the pandemic as anxiety and food-related triggers have increased.

“They didn’t have access to their food, things became scarce so for someone who is already struggling with their relationships with food it just increases that E-D voice,” Muscarello said.

According to Muscarello, there are no tell-tale signs when it comes to eating disorders because of the multiple different types as well as the complexity of each one.

“You can’t look at someone’s physical body and determine whether or not they are struggling with an eating disorder,” Muscarello said.

But, in some cases, those struggling suddenly become obsessed with calories or exercise excessively.

Over the past few years, the National Eating Disorder Association has been working to not only help people recover from the disease physically, but also at a deeper level.

“NEDA encourages this approach of taking care of the physical body but also the mental and emotional health of a person,” Muscarello said.

And Muscarello believes that we can all do our part by watching how we speak about food and even our bodies.

“How many times are people talking about, ‘I need to run x amount of times because this food is so bad," Muscarello said.

"Very easily a person’s relationship with food and their body can become really complicated.”

And if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder the best thing you can do is to talk about it. For more information, you can visit NEDA or contact their helpline number at (800) 931-2237.