5 Tips to Stop Stress Eating During COVID-19 Pandemic
This pandemic is upon us. You might be feeling a lack of control and find your stress levels are high. Health and weight wellness goals might feel insignificant in the face of a very scary virus that has disrupted our lives.
Maybe now you are feeling like it’s okay to just go into survival mode and not worry about the effect of your food and lifestyle choices.
I can understand that feeling.
But…. guess what?
This crisis (although never-ending currently), will come to an end.
I challenge you to consider how you can get through this time and come out stronger, and continue on the path to the health YOU choose.
Stress manifests itself in many ways, including disruption of sleep, feelings of anxiety, labile emotions and stress eating to name a few.
It is not surprising if during this time of disruption of routines, the uncertainty about when things will normalize, and the constant access to your kitchen while working from home, you might find yourself stress eating or even eating mindlessly.
Have you noticed this?
I have found myself often reaching for food when I am not hungry.
Sometimes it may even be a “healthy” option but eating when I am not hungry or more often, seeking those comfort foods- like something salty and crunchy (chips anyone?!)
Do you find yourself feeling like you can you can justify over-indulging in treats and “feel good” foods?
If we don’t check this behavior pattern and continue to not find a different way,
that “Quarantine 15” or “COVID 19” for weight gain could become a reality!
So… let’s talk about how we can nip this in the bud.
Here are some simple techniques you can use to start to recognize stress eating and mindless eating and break the cycle.
PAUSE: Check in before you eat. Ask “Am I really hungry?” versus maybe “I am thirsty.” Ask yourself if you are feeling an emotion that you are not addressing. If you realize it is not real hunger, recognize this, and distract yourself or have a low calorie snack like raw vegetables or a have cup of tea.
FOCUS: Eat without distractions! Turn off the TV, get off your phone or computer and focus on the meal in front of you. You are more likely to note when you are full when you are not focused elsewhere.
SLOW DOWN: Eat slowly so that hormones from your intestines have time to tell your brain that you are full.
ENJOY: During this time, try out a new recipe you have been meaning to try. Try new foods when what you wanted wasn’t available at your weekly grocery store trip. Use all your senses when eating: notice how it looks, the color, how it feels, smells and chew slowly to sense the taste.
ADAPT: Try alternative coping strategies. If you are feeling stressed, ways to relieve stress. Try taking a walk daily, meditate, read a book, try a new hobby, stay connected by calling a friend!
Remember, you are a work in progress and don’t need to be perfect. Choose 1 or 2 of these tips and practice applying them. Over time, your level of awareness builds, and you are armed with the tools that allow you to live the life you envision.
This awareness can slowly translate to other parts of your life: How you think, how you move, how you interact with others- with intention and purpose.
You are not just “letting things happen.”
So, keep the vision of the life and health you want and let your WHY guide you.
Everything else may not be in your control, but your moment to moment decisions are YOURS to make.
Richa Mittal, MD
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