I hope everyone reading this is keeping safe. It’s not nice living in lockdown, with the pleasant weather appearing in the UK, but we’re confined to our homes. I’m hoping these posts about Health During Lockdown will help some people cope a little easier during this uncertain time.
This post is about stress eating. Something that I know I can fall victim to and something which at the time you don’t realise you’re doing.
Stress will cause stress eating. That doesn’t mean you have to stress about anything in particular, you could fall to this if you’re upset, anxious or even just tired. There is a load of emotional feelings that can lead us to eat. We don’t have to be hungry, comfort is what we’re looking for and we often find relief in food.
There are some quick ways to combat it. Some of us, like me, are working from home now. Some are not working but must school their children. These settings create what I call “work areas”. Breaking from these areas makes things a lot easier against stress eating.
Plan your meals and even your snacks if you need to. When working, I take all I need with me. This includes Breakfast (I leave the house too early to always eat breakfast before), snacks and lunch. Do the same at home now. Plan and get ready your meals and snacks, it will stop you raiding the fridge or cupboard later in the day.
We as human need breaks. Some people don’t always get set breaks in their line of work (I feel for all the key workers right now), but if you can incorporate them into your day, then do it. For me, my office/study used to be the garage. I try to take a mini-break every hour. I can get a drink, see the wife and kids or even just gaze outside. It gets me away from my desk and allows me to relax for a few minutes. It breaks up the working day and allows me to compartmentalise what I’ve been working on.
Where you eat is a BIG player in stress eating. Don’t eat where you’re working at all if possible. If you need a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack/pick-me-up, do so at the dining table or something. Eat somewhere you enjoy food. It allows you to separate the stress of working with the delight of taking on fuel. It stops your mind from associating eating and stress together.
Now most panic buyers aren’t buying any more. The current situation shouldn’t change what you’re buying if you’re already dieting. Continue to buy what you do normally and make the healthy meals you typically would. Don’t go stocking up on processed food just because it’s easier. Have two or three frozen meals for emergency use, but try to stick to healthy raw ingredients.
Drink fluids regularly. If you don’t, you will become dehydrated. The sense of being dehydrated can easily confuse the sense of hunger. I have often had something to eat when a pint of water will have done the trick. Drinking regularly through the day combats this and keeps you hydrated, even more important now the weather is a lot hotter.
Even if you’re not a great cook, you can still enjoy cooking. Look up new recipes, try new ingredients. Making something you enjoy eases your mind and relaxes you. Sometime me and my wife will cook together, this brings even more enjoyment as you’re sharing the experience. It sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s true.