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If you feel the urge in urging to chew your way all day since COVID-19 has changed our lives, you are not alone.
It’s hard enough not to fall prey to emotional and mindless eating at the best of times. Stress that continues to skyrocket when crouching, we need compassion for what we experience and double the emotional adjustment and appetite regulation to stay healthy and sane.
How can we not feel overwhelmed while staying overnight, our usual set of worries has turned into unimaginable horrors? When our stress increases and routine activities are interrupted, it is natural to experience feelings of extreme loss of control – so that the act of eating merely seems like a magic antidote to our sense of helplessness.
During isolation at home, at first we might try to stay busy to guard our thoughts and feelings of anxiety. But because boredom and anxiety begin to emerge, it’s easy to find solace in the trifecta of sugar, fat, and salt.
Slender harvests at the grocery store can feel like the end of time, causing us to feel lost, vengeful, and angry. We may rebel against the perceived shortcomings by sneaking or eating “forbidden” foods that we believe to be “bad.” When we get our hands (or mouth) on the food we like, in the last panic, we may greedily polish it.
Fortunately, five strategies can teach you how to stay (relatively) sane around food while seclusion.
Manage your thoughts, emotions, and self-talk. Be honest about the challenges you face when it’s just you, Hagen Dazs and too much or too little to do. Manage your mind by choosing which to invite and which to leave at the door. Watch your emotions. Develop a mantra to be repeated softly but firmly, like, “I will find a better way to take care of myself.”
Have an open discussion. If you live with other people, start an honest conversation about why food is an unhealthy emotion regulator. Set a positive tone and avoid commanding, demeaning or humiliating attitudes, which can trigger secret eating or rebellion. Avoid taking responsibility for eating other adults: Everyone needs to keep their eyes on their own dishes.
Enjoy the food. Be thankful you have food to eat. Enjoy sweets and treats occasionally by eating them consciously, cheerfully, and stopping when you are full or satisfied.
Enjoy non-food activities. Make sure you have enough structure and freedom to balance your life, and enough pleasure that you don’t want to brighten your day.
Eat or tweet. Because you tend to overeat when disturbed, don’t eat or snack in front of the TV or when you play games, send messages, surf, or send emails.
Years from now, you might remember COVID-19 as a virus that helps cure your emotional eating problems.
Sarasota resident, Karen R. Koenig is a therapist and writer for eating psychology.
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