Question: I’ve been eating less since I’ve been home. Partially because of stress, and partially because when there’s nothing available that I like, I just don’t eat. My parents really don’t listen to me about food choices, so what are my options? I’m really trying not to slip into disordered eating.
Answer: Thank you so much for your wellness question submission, you are not alone in your struggles. Many students are experiencing a lot of stress right now, and the unfortunate reality is that stress worsens feelings of low mood or angst. As a result of the stress, many, just like you, experience changes in appetite and eat less frequently. Skipping meals and eating less than your body needs because you do not like your food choices, further exacerbates your low mood and as you point out, puts you at risk for developing disordered eating behaviors.
It sounds like you are trying to continue to eat the same foods you did when you were on campus, foods you view as healthy, but that your parents make different food choices that you feel are incompatible with yours? Leaving you to feel that you, and you alone, must be flexible and make changes to your diet. This must be very frustrating for you.
Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for everyone. The increased anxiety can cause some to abandon their healthy eating intentions and snack on whatever is around while others adhere to a strict healthy eating regimen. Meal planning for a family, a challenge on its own, can be more so now with seclusion at home, more people to feed with different tastes, and more food stores with limited groceries and shopping times.
Now, perhaps more than ever, it is important that our eating be guided by balance and flexibility. I wonder how your parents would respond if you offer to plan and prepare one or more meals each week for your family? What about offering to do the grocery shopping for your family? Would this provide you with the opportunity to add in a few items that appeal to you and to prepare meals or dishes to your liking?
Your concerns about developing an eating disorder are valid. I strongly encourage you to reach out to the Stone Center through the student portal to schedule a remote counseling session. The Stone Center can also help you locate a therapist in your area.
In the meantime, check out The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness’s website https://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com/news/.
The Alliance is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the outreach, education, early intervention, support, and advocacy for all eating disorders.
They are hosting free on-line check-ins Saturday, May 23rd 11am EST and Monday, May 25th 7pm EST. Links to register:
We are here for you. Let us know if you have additional questions.