In the midst of this worldwide pandemic there are so very many things we humans are worrying about that are very serious and can be life changing or ending. 

And then there are the minor things our “lizard brains” (the amygdala which keeps us safe, but sometimes gets hijacked) start to pick at and fixate on. This is human nature. It’s what our brains do when we’re in a threatening situation. 

The list of worries could be endless – I’ll spare you a list of examples. Think, “Lions & Tigers & Bears!”

One thing that appears to be a prevalent issue on American’s minds is worry about gaining weight during this pandemic. There are even hashtags about it. I’ll spare you those too. 

What does this have to do with eating disorders and family caregivers? Among other unhelpful things, worry about and focus on weight actually makes the issue worse, who knew? Research shows that focus on weight also doesn’t improve health and models unhelpful behaviors for your loved one in treatment/recovery. Dieting leads to weight cycling which is shown to be detrimental to longevity, and interestingly – slows metabolism. More info on dieting and weight stigma here on the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website and research to back it up here. 

Here are some excellent articles by actual EXPERTS in the field of nutrition and medicine to help you sort it all out and hopefully give that little lizard a worry break. Poor thing’s been workin’ overtime and not getting a break – now there is something to worry about 😉 Please gift yourself with a few minutes to read one or both of these excellent articles. The New York Times article isn’t even blocked by a firewall for non-subscribers! A gift! 🙂 

Lessons on Emotional Eating During these Trying Times, by, Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD  – March 21, 2020 on Erica’s website

The Challenge of Feeding Kids during Coronavirus, by, Virginia Sole-Smith appeared in the New York Times on March 26, 2020 and includes quotes from my trusted colleagues: Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN & Katja Rowell, MD & Anna Sweeney, MS, RD

Those who know me saw this coming…more self care practice. The moral of the story is…like Bobby McFerrin says so well, “Don’t worry be happy” and practice your self care like your life depends on it. Because it does. 

Now, let’s get going in our own little self care bubbles doing those things that give us joy! Whether it be at your craft table, musical instrument, an uncrowded park, balconies, living room yoga mats, etc, 6’ away from others and practice self care like a hero! Without worrying about the darn weight. It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. We can even imagine that when we are practicing self care, we have a cape on, because it is truly a way to be a hero. 

And for family caregivers, your loved one with the eating disorder is very likely having a much harder time right now with heightened anxiety and all the food focus. All the more reason to model self care that isn’t focused on working to not gain extra weight. 

What if we all aimed for joyful movement? Speaking of which…it’s up to 45 degrees ABOVE zero here on the frozen tundra and the sun is shining so I’m getting out to move my body, hear the birds, feel the sunshine, enjoy seeing neighbors (from 6′ away) and their sweet dogs. And, get my heart rate up a bit to keep my body strong and help my mood, cause you know…this is a really rough time. 

Hang in there and let me know if you have questions about any of this. It is counter to the pseudoscience the entire world is preaching (which is based in weight stigma) and it might take a while to wrap your brain around these concepts. That is okay. It took me a while too.