Eating disorders during COVID lockdown


Well here we are again NZ, in level 4 lockdown.

We know it can be extremely challenging for people with eating disorders during COVID lockdown. Regardless of the eating disorder, a lockdown seems to provide triggers and an environment that are especially taxing. We know from research done overseas that factors like reduced stock at supermarkets can make it harder for sufferers of anorexia nervosa to find ‘safe’ routine foods, and increased time at home with easy-to access food can trigger temptations to binge [1].

Our 6pm routine tends to gravitate towards the news headlines, where images of busy supermarkets and empty shelves commonly feature. A quick scroll on social media will have you inundated with content about the current NZ situation, and diet or home-based exercise advice to combat the anticipated lockdown weight-gain. Recent research undertaken in Australia shows that for people suffering from an eating disorder, the pandemic has exacerbated unhealthy eating and changed exercise behaviour in the majority of participants surveyed [2].

This is an anxiety filled time for many people, and unfortunately the impact of a lockdown can also disrupt the support systems for someone battling an eating disorder. Face-to-face appointments may be replaced with telehealth consults, and the wider social support network of friends and extended family may now exist outside of your isolation bubble.

We are still learning about the experiences of those with eating disorders in lockdown situations, but it is clear that this is a situation that is particularly hard to navigate. Take care of yourselves and those around you.

Kia kaha.



1.            Shah, M., M. Sachdeva, and H. Johnston, Eating disorders in the age of COVID-19. Psychiatry research, 2020. 290: p. 113122.

2.            Phillipou, A., et al., Eating and exercise behaviors in eating disorders and the general population during the COVID‐19 pandemic in Australia: Initial results from the COLLATE project. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2020. 53(7): p. 1158-1165.


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