Stress is an emotion that we will all have to face at one point in our life. Right now, we can all relate to the stress this pandemic has caused us. Whatever the reason, it is important to be aware of our emotions and how they impact our actions. I’m sure that in the past month, we all have experienced stress and that may have caused us to over-eat, because our bodies know that emotional eating can bring us short-term comfort. But over-eating in the long term only exacerbates our stress, when we worry about our health and our weight. So, what can we do about it? Here are some tips for eating intuitively during a pandemic.
- Before you reach for a snack, ask yourself: How am I feeling?
Remember that you can’t fully trust your hunger when you are stressed out. Being aware of your emotions is the first step in making a change. It is important to listen to your body even more closely during times of intense stress or sadness. Check in with yourself before and during your meals to see if you’re actually hungry or if you’re just trying to ease your emotions.
- Find other ways to cope with your emotions.
If you’ve determined that your stress is impacting your ability to trust your hunger, find another way to ease your stress. Find the root of the problem, and if there is something you can do to fix it, then try that. If the root of your stress is out of your control, try to find something else to put you at ease. Maybe it’s talking to a friend, getting lost in your favorite hobby, finding a new hobby, or meditating.
- Come up with a few easy rules that you can stick to, without restricting yourself too much.
Finding some structure can be a good tool to end overeating. Here are some good examples of rules that you can set for yourself:
- Stop eating snacks out of the bag. Pour one portion into a bowl and put the rest away.
- Cut down on processed foods.
- Don’t eat in front of the television.
- Chew your food thoroughly.
However, choose realistic goals for yourself and don’t restrict yourself too much. If you don’t give yourself the opportunity to enjoy your food each time you eat, it may lead you to binge on more unhealthy snacks.
- Exercise regularly!
Getting your body moving releases endorphins and can help to alleviate stress. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, or craving unhealthy foods, first try going for a walk, a run, or doing some yoga. Getting your blood flowing could be exactly what your body is craving and can help you to reduce your stress and eat healthier.
- Make peace with food.
Make your relationship with food a healthy one. Food is our sustenance; it keeps us going day after day. It’s important to remember that we still need to eat every day, even if you think you ate a lot yesterday, or you are moving less than usual, or you aren’t happy with your weight. Make good choices with each meal but remember to enjoy them too.
- Make your meals something to look forward to.
You may have some extra free time right now, so use it to plan some exciting meals! Find recipes that inspire you. Learn how to cook something new. When we eat quick and easy meals it may be easier for us to over eat. But when you take the time to cook a meal from scratch, the fulfillment and pride you have in your meal can satisfy you more! Picking up a new hobby like cooking can also help to reduce your stress levels. Cutting vegetables can be very therapeutic.
- Remember, we are all going through this together, and our priority is to stay safe.
Don’t forget, that right now, the most important thing is to stay home and stay healthy. Don’t go out of your way to pick up any obscure ingredients at the store if you don’t really need them. Be kind to yourself and we hope that this will all be over soon!