Hey Angels and Alphas,
Have you found that your relationship with food and weight loss has been… strained since COVID-19? (Pardon the pun.)
Let’s face it – while it’s okay to sometimes stress eat or track our intake so we can safely lose weight, it’s also important that we pay some close attention to the potentially worrisome changes in our eating habits such as overeating or cutting out too many calories in one go.
The pandemic changed the way we live, work, train, eat, everything. Everyone has been impacted by it in one way or another, and today, we’re here to learn about all the ways the pandemic could have negatively impacted our relationship with food. (As well as how experts believe we should go about dealing with that problem.)
Here’s what the science says.
As a surprise to absolutely no one, a study done in April this year found that there’s been an increase in problematic eating behaviors since the start of the pandemic. The ultimate result of these behaviors, especially those left unchecked, is more eating disorders.
Eating disorders have been linked to countless factors that were prevalent during the pandemic, such as depression, food insecurities, financial difficulties, social isolation, and widespread uncertainty.
And according to this study, more than half (6/10) people said they struggled with maintaining their weight, while 1 in 10 reported binge-eating. This is the result of all the poor stress management, financial difficulties, and symptoms of depression that a lot of people faced while they were socially isolated.
With vaccines being rolled out around the world and cases beginning to fall, life has somewhat gone back to normal. But if those unhealthy habits or feelings are still lingering in your life, you have to take the necessary steps to get back on track.
Let’s explore 4 ways in which your relationship with food could have changed for the worse… and how to bounce back.
#1 MINDLESS SNACKING
If you’ve ever found yourself at the bottom of a bag of chips, with a full belly and a desire to reach for more, you’re not alone. Let’s be honest – gaining weight is easy if we’re just talking on a physical level. And mentally, food is really not that satisfying when you’re not savoring the moment and being fully present while enjoying it.
If you’re one of those people who can’t sit down to eat without a show to watch, you need to take action. Even if it’s just for a few days, commit to making your eating time a time of mindfulness, a time when you actually enjoy the food you’re consuming.
When you experience cravings, try to reach out for something a little more nutrient-dense and fulfilling and make sure you’re focused on the process of eating and consciously fueling your body instead of aimlessly snacking while watching Netflix.
#2 IF YOU FIND THAT YOU’RE EATING MORE THAN USUAL…
In general, countless people are just simply eating more than before, thanks to all the pandemic-related stressors and the fact that they were stuck at home.
But the bottom line is, if you want a healthy relationship with food, you have to be clear and aware of your hunger and satiety signals. Not knowing when to stop will have you gaining weight, experiencing dissatisfaction with your body, and put you in an off-kilter eating pattern.
The fix here is to start logging, even if it’s just for a while. Try mindful eating practices such as using your five senses while you’re eating. And make sure to make a list of things you can do every day to avoid snacking out of boredom or stress. When you tune in to your body and start listening for those hunger and fullness cues, you can start enjoying snacks without overeating.
#3 AND IF YOU’RE EATING LESS…
Sure, it’s okay to eat a little less if you’re moving less. But the added stress can lead to a loss of appetite, and fewer calories kicking in can be a recipe for disaster. You have to make sure you’re getting in all the energy you need by creating a healthy eating schedule with small, frequent meals.
If you want your body to function properly, you have to focus on fueling it properly – with whole grains, veggies and fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and more.
#4 IF YOU’RE USING FOOD TO COPE…
Just know it’s absolutely normal… but there are limits to it. It’s perfectly human to reach for comfort food when you’re stressed out. But if this is the only coping mechanism you have and you’re stuck at home, those excess calories from sugar and the trans fats and salt from junk food can definitely outweigh the benefits.
As simple as this may sound, just generate a list of alternative things you can do. You can provide yourself instant mood boosts and distract yourself from stress quite easily if you meditate, train, do yoga, go for walks, talk to friends, and participate in other activities you enjoy.
There’s nothing wrong with having a coping mechanism, but if that coping mechanism has negative effects on your health, you have to abort mission and find healthier ways to cope with stress.