'There is no desire to eat'; patients struggle as COVID symptoms meet eating disorders
In the pandemic shut down over the last year, it's easy to feel a loss of control: a stressor for millions and one commonly linked to sating disorders.
That's why the Upstate NY Eating Disorder service wasn't surprised when they started seeing an influx in patients this year.
But one trend they didn't expect was the more physical toll of the COVID-19 virus itself on patient diet.
For some survivors, a fairly common side effect of losing a sense of taste and smell and stick around long after other symptoms have gone. When the loss of those senses piles on to already disordered eating, it can leave some patients with almost no motivation to eat.
Patient of the Service Kristin Duskasky explained that her restrictive eating disorder and limited diet is limiting her life. "I've always the type of person that restricted especially when I was stressed. So not feeling well is a stressor for me and not having the energy to do the things I want is a stressor to me so naturally I'm going to want to restrict...even in my sleep I wake up and I have this awful taste and smell so there is no desire to eat."
The clinic's director said that luckily they haven't seen too many patients that have also lost their sense of taste and smell but continue to work on a case by case basis-- and typically recommending additional zinc in their diet.
As for the increase in cases overall-- the clinic recommends that parents look out for signs of problems with food like negative self talk and food restrictions, to get help before a problem turns into a disease.