Battling the Covid-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging and difficult for each and every soul. The lockdown, working from home and the new-normal has given birth to another level of stress where you tend to resort to emotional eating. If you think about it, you’ve always turned to food whether regardless of being happy or sad.
This no-schedule-eating is not normal and can damage your health system, disrupt sleep, weaken immunity, and increase health risks. Here’s how to not mix food with emotions.
#1. Monitor your body signs
Get to know your body to distinguish between body hunger and mental hunger. If you’re physically hungry, your body will reflect physical symptoms like a growling tummy but if you just had your meal and still feel hungry then you need to monitor your emotions. Studies say that there are four basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. Knowing exactly which emotion you’re experiencing will help to tackle it in a way that doesn’t involve food. For example, if you’re feeling sad, try talking it out with a close friend or family or spend quality time with your pet.
#2. Do you choose food according to what you feel?
The next step is to know the reason behind you’re eating choices and the four emotions mentioned above will help you do that. Is there a specific pattern you follow? Like if you’re sad do you reach out for chocolates and ice creams? If you’ve not noticed this yet then start to maintain a journal where you can keep track of it. While you do that, you can also record your hunger and fullness levels, and your emotions. This will help you understand your relationship with food and the awareness will lead you to test out alternative coping tools.
#3. Organise your eating schedule
Follow a routine where you fix a time for your meals. It’s more likely that you eat emotionally on the weekends since you have more free time. Coronavirus has, without a doubt, messed up your eating schedule and left you with no strong structure. Try eating your meals around the same time each day with a gap of three to five hours in between. A consistent eating routine helps prevent mindless munching and regulates blood sugar and insulin levels as well as hunger hormones.
#4. Avoid any kind of distraction while eating
When you settle yourself to have a meal, commit to mindful eating, and avoid doing any other task. Have your meal at a table rather than sitting in front of your TV or computer and do not check your phone while you eat. Initially, it might feel strange but you’ll see that you’re able to tune into hunger and fullness cues, and feel more satiated after eating.
#5. Be kind to yourself
The last step is to be kind to yourself and initiate positive self-talk. Blaming yourself or feeling guilty about emotional eating only worsens it which can increase it the drive to eat. If you find yourself eating emotionally, what you need to do is to find the answer to the ‘why’ behind it. Keep a check on your actions and take a step back to analyse so that you know how to handle the situation in a better way. This process will lead you to adopt alternative ways to cope with emotional eating.
Having said that, remember to not be too hard on yourself. You can relish your special treats when you’re craving for it but the point is to keep a check on them. Maintaining balance is where your actual focus should be.
Featured Image Courtesy: Being Healthy