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If you’ve felt an uptick in urges to munch and crunch your way through the day since COVID19 has revamped our lives, you’re not alone. It’s hard enough not to fall prey to emotional and mindless eating in the best of times. Enduring sky-rocketing stress while hunkered down, we need compassion for what we’re experiencing and a redoubling of attunement to emotions and appetite regulation in order to stay sane and healthy.
How can we not feel overwhelmed when seemingly overnight our usual host of worries has been transformed into inconceivable horrors: ourselves or loved ones succumbing to COVID19, losing our jobs and financial assets, and wondering when this nightmare will end? As our stress ramps up and routine pleasurable, relaxing activities are cut off one by one, it’s natural to experience feelings of extreme loss of control so that the mere act of eating seems like a magical antidote to combat our sense of powerlessness.
During home isolation—alone, with roommates or family—we may initially try to stay busy to keep anxious thoughts and feelings at bay. But as boredom and edginess set in, it’s easy to seek solace in the trifecta of sugar, fat, and salt to lift sagging spirits, soothe gnawing angst, or ward off boredom. Aside from anxiety, isolation may heighten loneliness, depression, and despair, all of which drive emotional eating which increases shame, remorse and self-hate, substantially exacerbating low mood.
Slim pickings’ when grocery shopping can seem like the end times, causing us to feel deprived, resentful, and angry when we can’t buy foods we love. We might rebel against perceived deprivation by sneaking or bingeing on “forbidden” foods we believe are “bad.” When do get our hands (or mouths) on foods we love, in a last-supper panic, we may greedily polish them off.
Fortunately, five simple strategies will teach you how to stay (relatively) sane around food when self-isolating.
In sum, if you’re used to turning to food to cure the blues or the blahs, use the home-bound time to radically change your eating habits by finding heartfelt passions and pleasures, learning how to manage stress and distress effectively, and employing the power of positive thought selection and self-talk to forge a healthy relationship with food and your body. Who knows? Years from now, you just might remember COVID19 as the virus that helped you heal your emotional eating problems.
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