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Local therapist offers advice for handling an eating disorder during the pandemic

Posted at 9:22 AM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 12:22:06-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — We’re staying home to keep ourselves safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this disruption to our usual routine can be an issue for mental health problems like eating disorders.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Leslie Barber said this major change to daily routines can trigger disordered eating as a coping mechanism.

“It’s their kind of go-to, so when times of stress are heavy, often symptoms and coping will increase. People can feel compelled to diet or restrict their food intake or restrict certain types of food," said Barber.

Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital’s Director of Business Development Amber Smithson said the first step to getting help is acknowledging the problem.

"[It's] important to recognize whether or not you’re kind of going down a negative or unhealthy route,” said Smithson.

She encourages those struggling to use online and in-person resources.

“You need to make sure that you are still seeking out that help that you need. You’re still seeking out that support that you need," said Smithson.

She said the National Eating Disorders Association website has screening tests and you can search for support groups in your area. Barber recommended finding local professionals for help too.

“Teaching out to a treatment team, a therapist, registered dietitian that specializes in disordered eating, is a great way to kind of figure out what some new coping skills are and really get to the root of the problem," said Barber.

For anyone struggling with an eating disorder, Barber said she wants you to know you are not alone, and there are many online resources ready for you to use.