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The pandemic is hard on people with eating disorders

Isolation makes it easier to hide and harder to control. Binge eating is the most common disorder and it's equally prevalent among men and women.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — We've learned that the many things we struggle with in everyday life can sometimes be compounded during the pandemic. Isolation is particularly hard on those with eating disorders.

“Typically, when people have major stress or distress in our life, our eating behaviors follow suit in one of two ways, and it tends to be more extreme,” said Dr. Heather Gallivan with the Melrose Center.

People often either turn to food to cope and comfort themselves, or their appetite decreases, and they are eating less or not enough. Dr. Gallivan said she's seeing both happening right now. Isolation makes it easier to hide and harder to control an eating disorder. Binge eating, she said, is the most common eating disorder, and it is equally prevalent among men and women.

“People who have binge eating disorder engage in significant overeating, not just 'I ate too much a couple of times,' but they are eating large quantities of food where it feels like they can't stop or control themselves, and maybe eating when they don't feel hungry, and often times the eating is done in secret, and there's a lot of shame and guilt involved with that,” she said.

Trying to tackle it on your own can be tough. Reaching out to friends and family can boost your mood and do wonders for your brain.

“Use the good weather that we're having to try to get outdoors, and connect with others, and do it in a safe manor to try and decrease the stress of that isolation,” she said.

And more than that, there is professional help available to help you tackle the underlying reasons why we turn to, or turn away, from food.