Healthcast: People living with eating disorders struggling during COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

(CNN) — Cara Lisette has spent more than half her life battling anorexia. Now under the coronavirus lockdown, she says she is also fighting to find the few foods she considers “safe” to eat.

Lisette, a 29-year-old nurse, says she was originally diagnosed with an eating disorder at age 13.

After years of relapse-and-recovery cycles, she became unwell once more last June and took time off from work in December, shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19.

After seeking help from her doctor, she says she was offered a place on an outpatient treatment program, where she took part in therapy groups and ate three meals a day under supervision.

But when the UK government announced a lockdown to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, the service was closed down for 12 weeks.

“It’s been really difficult because a lot of what we are doing there is meal support,” Lisette said. Without that help, “I’m just having to wing it at home by myself.”

The coronavirus pandemic has left Lisette and many others suffering with eating disorders facing new challenges and exacerbated pre-existing problems for others.

Support groups estimate that some 1.25 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder. In the US, that number could be as high as 30 million.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), a leading US eating disorder nonprofit, reports that it has seen a 56% increase in its instant messaging service over the past week.

The service provides people with an alternative to having to speak over the phone.

“It seems like people don’t feel as comfortable to make phone calls when they are in quarantine with others,” said Kylee Siaw, a spokesperson for NEDA.

Read more here.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, NEDA has phone, text, and chat services available on its website.

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