Are You Stress and Emotional Eating During COVID-19?
It’s no doubt these are stressful times for the majority of the world
right now. With unemployment rates in America at the highest since the
Great Depression, for lack of better words, times are tough. As humans a
lot of us, when times are tough we turn to food. We become depressed
and stressed leading to emotional and stress eating. Why do we do this?
Is it the fullness of our bellies that give us comfort, is it the
amazing smells and flavors that temporally hypnotize us and bring us
joy? Whatever the reason may be, a lot of us also usually feel guilty
after the fact.
Eating food is a known primary coping mechanism to deal
with emotions, and stress increases cortisol levels in our body.
Cortisol is a hormone and when the body releases it in response to
stress, this can increase appetite and the motivation to eat.
Usually we people with stress turn to foods high in sugar
and fat. Eating these kinds of foods activates dopamine, the “reward”
neurotransmitter. Foods high in sugar and fat make you feel better in
the moment and they are referred to as “comfort foods” because they
appear to counteract stress.
Here are some tips to help manage emotional and stress eating during these difficult times:
Pay attention to your eating habits and what kind of foods you tend
to go for when stressed. There’s no need to judge yourself, just think
about it so your aware of your habits. Consider keeping a food journal
so you don’t lose track of your habits, it easy to forget something when
you want to.
A good way to better track your hunger and satiety cues is to
practice a technique called mindful eating. Remove distractions (TVs,
cell phones and laptops etc.), avoid eating directly from the package
and focus on the sensorial properties (smell, taste, texture) of the
Get Enough Sleep
Studies have found that getting too little sleep is directly related
to over-eating. Although not everyone needs the same amount of sleep,
most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily. Consider
establishing a regular sleep schedule to help you get on track with your
sleep habits. It’s healthy to have routines in both sleep and exercise.
Putting yourself down for anything especially over eating can only
make your emotional state worse and lead to continued over eating. Learn
to love and accept yourself. Practicing self-affirmations in the mirror
daily can help with this, and if you think you need help don’t hesitate
to reach out to a healthcare professional.