Before learning how to deal with emotional eating during the pandemic with advice from top nutritionists, dietitians, and healthcare experts, let’s learn why emotional eating is bad for us:
According to WHO, the stress associated with Covid-19 triggers emotional eating habits among individuals. Whilst some people resort to eating less, or not at all, a vast majority uses excessive eating as a coping mechanism. It is used to suppress or soothe negative emotions.
1. Overeating may seem a pleasant fix at first, but it only gives short-term happiness. It doesn’t make your blues vanish.
2. Research suggests that the aftermath of an emotional eating session actually makes one feel worse. Emotions such as guilt can arise.
3. Over time, emotional eating leads to weight gain and increases one’s risk of other chronic and lifetime illnesses such as diabetes.
How to stop binge eating during these trying times?
Step1: Understand what causes emotional eating
This may be hard to identify at first but getting to the root cause is easy when the pattern is noted down. Each time you indulge in the unhealthy habit, what leads you to it? Is it stress, boredom, anxiety, depression? And what causes that? If it is a person or a situation, you can start avoiding him/it. If you cannot, you can learn other ways to cope with the issue. For example, you can go for a run to vent it out, talk to a loved one, sign up for therapy, or even paint.
Step2: Ask yourself if you’re really hungry
Just because you want to stuff your mouth with donuts, doesn’t mean your body needs it. In fact, a sugar or junk rush is the last thing that your body needs. Stock snacks that you know you won’t have at once and go for healthy alternatives. For example, instead of ice-cream, get no-fat frozen yogurt, etc. Time yourself. If your last meal was four hours ago, you might be hungry but if you just ate two hours ago, you’re probably not hungry!
Step3: Do something you love
If you find something you love doing, chances are that even if you’re feeling low, you will not opt for emotional eating. The pandemic might be horrible, but it has given us all an opportunity to pick up on a long lost hobby. Set a new goal, make a new friend, and do something that gives you joy.
Step4: Go the extra mile to help yourself
Sometimes we make decisions to quit habits but in trying times, we adopt them again. It’s hard, we understand. If you can’t help but emotionally eat, stop buying the stuff you crave for. If you won’t have it in the closet or fridge, by the time you decide to get it, you’d actually be feeling better enough to think your decision through.
Step5: Make sure you’re not missing out on the essentials
Sometimes all you need is 30 minutes of brisk walking in nature to get that adrenaline rush in your body. A little jog and me-time go a long, long way! Sleep plays a vital part too. If your body gets an adequate amount of sleep, chances are that you’ll feel much better throughout the day and will also deal well with unpredictable events.
Whilst these five steps can set you back on track, understand that not everyone can do it alone. At times we all need help and it is perfectly alright to get it. In these difficult times, telehealth has become a life-saver. You can make an online appointment with a nutritionist to get a personalized meal plan from the comfort of your home and look your very best! OR, you can opt for therapy and get online video consultations to relax your mind and be a better version of yourself.