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Eating disorder treatment in a pandemic: F.E.A.S.T. responds

by Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director


When our family was facing eating disorder treatment we were stretched to our limits. We counted the days and sometimes the hours between each treatment appointment. Any change in routine was a crisis. Any added anxiety or stress seemed unbearable.

As a former caregiving mother, I am trying to imagine adding a global pandemic and limited access to healthcare to the 24/7 crisis of caring for someone with an eating disorder. For the FEAST community, this is no longer theoretical: our community is struggling with a global crisis on top of what is often the worst thing the family has ever faced. Families are in quarantine, surrounded by uncertainty, unable to access treatment. Healthcare providers are being called away to provide treatment for the virus. Travel, to clinics or to visit those in clinics away from home, may become unsafe or impossible for a while.

The main features of an eating disorder involve anxiety and desperation. Treatment rightly requires an ordered routine, access to provider appointments, and putting recovery first. None of these are going to be in easy supply in the near future.

F.E.A.S.T. feels this keenly. We are all families who know the relentless struggle of recovery even in the best of circumstances. We know how impossible and unfair it seems to add one more pressure or concern.

But the novel coronavirus is here, and around the world, families are facing the crisis, and F.E.A.S.T. is hoping to offer what support we can for the community in this difficult time:

Watch our website for eating disorder-specific information on topics like “distress tolerance,” parenting calmly during anxious situations and employing tools from anxiety and OCD treatment that best apply in the current situation. Our materials and support will keep in mind the global uncertainty, quarantine, and lack of access to normal treatment and healthcare

We know you are worried about your person with the eating disorder and how this crisis will affect their recovery. We know that you are worried about the crisis itself.

In this time we will pull together as a community and alongside all our families with all the caring and fierce support we can muster. F.E.A.S.T. is a FAMILY organization, and we support families!

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