Today, the cost of living crisis is an issue that many areas of the world are battling, but especially in the UK.
One of the major problems with this cost of living crisis today is its impact on food and accessibility to food. In April of this year, 4.6 million adults reported not eating despite being hungry because they couldn’t afford or get access to food, and 7.3 million adults said they had skipped a meal or struggled to obtain food. With basic necessities growing more unaffordable and rising inflation rates, the cost of living crisis has caused many people to suffer from hunger.
For people who are with or recovering from eating disorders, this limited access to affordable food can be scary because of increased monitoring of food, shame surrounding financial hardship, and overall stress.
The cost of living crisis has caused many people to evaluate their eating and cut their spending. This behavior of monitoring and micromanaging food can be very reminiscent of some of their eating disorder habits, causing some to relapse or develop new disordered behavior around food. There is also a major risk to those in recovery who are unable to to get the specific foods they need in their meal plan, which disrupts their nutritional recovery.
Money and Shame
Guilt and shame are also feelings that can have dire effects during this time. There may be an increase in feelings of guilt and shame around either not having enough money, spending too much on food, overeating food, and/or being wasteful. These feelings are very dangerous for anyone and their relationship with food, especially for those with previous experiences in binge eating.
Stress and Hardship
These negative mental health effects extend to those outside of previous disordered eating as well. Financial difficulties, in general, have many adverse health risks. Experiencing economic hardship can heighten anxiety and depression. And with the lack of access to affordable and effective mental health resources, this cost of living crisis puts many in troubling situations.
The good news is: there are resources available. There are many amazing online communities, pages, and other resources that are affordable/free for people who are looking for support during these difficult times.
If you are in an emergency situation struggling with an eating disorder or you know someone who is, here are some resources to help:
Beat - UK charity for eating disorders. https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information.../
Shout - UK-based free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope with a mental health issue. https://giveusashout.org/
The Samaritans - a phone service available for free, 24/7 support from any phone. In the UK call 116 123 www.samaritans.org.
National Eating Disorders Association - US nonprofit for eating disorders. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support
Butterfly Foundation - Australian nonprofit for eating disorders https://butterfly.org.au/get-support/helpline/
National Eating Disorders Information Center - Canadian non-profit for eating disorders. https://nedic.ca/
FEAST - international non-profit providing support for carers of people with eating disorders https://www.feast-ed.org/
Find the helplines for other countries at https://www.befrienders.org/help-and-support
Beanbag Health also offers free, around-the-clock community peer support through our Discord community
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Jack is an intern at Beanbag Health. He is a senior at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Management. Jack states that he has already learned so much during his time at Beanbag Health and feels excited to be a part of a company that is working towards making eating disorder recovery support more accessible. He is looking forward to a future where everyone will be able to access affordable and effective mental health care.
Lindsey is one of the founders of Beanbag Health with a personal passion for eating disorders. She's a behavioral scientist with a background in health-tech and ed-tech in the US. She has designed healthcare and education programs at scale, engaging millions of Americans and thousands of students globally, including many from traditionally underserved backgrounds.