Does family or culture have more of an influence on the occurrence of eating disorders?
For this third post, my main focus was supposed to be family and our culture actually affect our perspective of food and weight gain, but thanks to the comments from my last post, I believe it’s better to address the ED caused by COVID as well as the role our family played in it, as it is a prominent issue in our society. As well as suggested solutions for this problem. To end this post, I tie it back to whether family or culture have more of an inlfunec on the occurrence of ED.
3 weeks of break turned into 6 months and more, what better to do then to work on ourselves, losing/ gaining weight, changing our appearance and to document it on social media. We know the rule, if one person start doing it, everyone will follow, and eventually become a trend. Everyone felt obligated to do so: if they can change themselves I can too. A “positive transformation” was encouraged, weight loss and exercercise was targeted at those with obesity, but triggering the ones with existing difficulty with food.  Cases of restrictive eating, including anorexia nervose and avoidant/ restrictive food intake disorder started to spike, and eating disorders have thrived in this pandemic environment, as the focus on eating and weight control became a way of coping. Students are so used to having a routine of waking up, going to school, hanging out with friends– and now the routine is broken, this creates a huge impact on thier mental health . NEDIC’s anonymous helpline has seen a 43 per cent overall increase in calls, and more than double the number of calls from those aged 11 to 19.
It’s not just social media, limitations have been placed on physical activity, with individuals allowed outside briefly for physical activity or asked to stay indoors at all times. Such constraints may limit access to regular physical activity, which, in combination with disrupted eating patterns, may lead to heightened shape and weight concerns and disordered eating. Moreover, anxiety related to the pandemic and disrupted routines may negatively impact sleep quality, which is known to increase ED risk. High stress, loneliness, food and money accessibility are the common factors to pandemic caused ED. 
With people losing jobs, financial stability is weakened in a family which causes more stress in a family. Stress and ED are proved to be deeply connected with each other. Which brings us back to blog #4 and the effect of dysfunctional family has on children. When parents time start to free up, they spend more time with their children, which creates more conflict and tension between the 2 because children are not used to spending so much time together since they used to have their own set of routine, and now it’s broken, the dynamic of a family becomes disturbed. Then it comes back to the point control, and the only way they could gain this control in their life is food.
The unpredictability of grocery inventory can bring up the urge to both restrict and binge. When entire store shelves of rice, eggs, pasta, and toilet paper are empty, it can trigger a deep sense of unease and a desire to hoard. Panic buying has been rampant.
“This food is hard to get, so get it all while you can!”
To gain that control back in your life isn’t easy, while food can temporarily help, its important to have a healthy set of routine to help cope:
1. Stick to online groups that specifically promote body positivity and consider taking a hiatus from or deleting apps that encourage a culture of body shaming. (instagram/ tiktok)
2. After mealtimes and in the evenings, when more likely to engage in disordered eating, make a plan for activities with others for distraction (game night, going on a brief walk).
3. Work on going to bed at a scheduled time each night, ensuring at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
4. Create a schedule of healthy snacks and meals every few hours throughout the day to reduce the risk for binge eating.
5. Write down positive body affirmations on small sticky notes and place them in locations most likely to body check, including on mirrors. (personally, journalling and art helps)