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Recovery centers see major increase in calls for eating disorder help amid pandemic

Eating Recovery Center Sacramento has seen an 90% increase in calls for help compared to non-pandemic years.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Eating Recovery Center Sacramento (ERC) has seen an 90% increase in calls amid the pandemic.

“People are spending more time alone at home, people are engaged more often with social media which sometimes gives us a lot of feedback that we are supposed to be a certain type of person and have a certain appearance in a certain category,” ERC Clinical Director Cory Adams said.

The ERC found a greater increase in calls compared to non-pandemic years because of that.

Joanna Nolan knows the pressures of fitting a certain type of standard. She said she remembers not feeling comfortable in her skin from childhood.

Her family history gave her a heightened sense of awareness. She said she was warned by family members of health problems that could happen later in life.

“If you don’t get your weight under control you could risk having to have all of these issues down the road,” Nolan said.

Watching her weight became what she calls an obsession.

“I could recite to you my calorie content for the day and what exercise regimen I had for the past two months, but I probably couldn’t tell you about anything else,” Nolan said.

She never thought it was an eating disorder until she ended up in the emergency room. She said it felt like the wind was knocked out of her.

When she described her lifestyle to a doctor, they mentioned she might have an eating disorder.

“I never looked underweight. For everybody else I was seen as fit and athletic and taking care of my health and my wellbeing," Nolan said. "But little did everybody know what was going on behind the scenes as far as me being so dependent on laxatives and diuretics and diet pills.”

When she was ready, she went into treatment at the ERC. Nolan said the life she’s living now is well worth all the work she’s put into her recovery.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.

Adams said if you feel that a loved one might have an eating disorder, pay attention to the signs.

“When people have really drastic changes in behavior, you’ll see people more often comparing themselves to others, having more discussions about their appearance, getting wrapped up into diet fads and kind of going back and forth into different eating habits,” he said.

He said early intervention is the key to recovery.

“It is kind of one of these disorders that has a lot of shame and guilt associated with it. So, it kind of keeps people from seeking out that help," Adams said. "I think the more that we can have these conversations, I think this can be awareness for this disorder will help people get care and treatment that they really need."

If you or someone you know are struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the Eating Recovery Center Sacramento at (916) 574-1000.


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