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Why we eat during quarantine due to stress (and how we deal with it)

May 15, 2020

Eating for fear is a common and understandable response to stress, but it is important to develop habits to control our emotions.

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The opinions of the employees of s You are personal.

Why we eat during quarantine due to stress (and how we deal with it)
Why we eat during quarantine due to stress (and how we deal with it)


This is an overwhelming moment. Most of us face dark headlines 24 hours a day. We also lose our jobs, have tense relationships at home, miss our routines, feel bored and very scared. We can therefore be expected to overeat.

“Eat Through Stress” It is when you consume large amounts of food in a conscious or subconscious effort to calm negative emotions. The great fear we have has caused many of us to feel comfortable with food, and that explains the 37% increase in sales in companies like General Mills, Nestlé and Kellogg’s. Cinnamon toast crunch muesli, pop tarts and chocolates fly off the shelves. This is a global phenomenon (humorously, the Germans call weight gain due to overeating. “grief bacon”, literally “black bacon”).

My good friend, author of Food in color: delicious healthy recipes for you and your family and nationally-known nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth explains: “Other leisure activities and distractions have been taken away from us, and this is extremely worrying. People are now turning to eating to feel good and the types of food they choose . ” The most in demand are those who concern us the most. On social networks and in the news, we see that people enjoy a lot of baked goods like banana bread, cakes and cookies. Never in a million years would I think flour and yeast would run out in Midtown Manhattan, but this pandemic has caused them to blow off the shelves. “

My personal way to reduce stress is exercise and movement. I love to sweat and feel my heart beating, and the endorphins of the movement make me happy. While my desire to “eat through stress” is rare, I have more than one sweet tooth. Here are my tips for dealing with cravings:

  1. Ask yourself: “Am I hungry?” “I’m thirsty?” “Why am I eating?” These simple, conscious questions allow me to reassess my decisions. The power of the mind is stronger than you think, and sometimes homemade water with fruit will satisfy hunger that has never existed.
  2. Take a short walk to breathe deeply. The connection with nature and my own breath distracts me from the triggers that would make me eat without thinking. And a slight increase in my heart rate sends good chemicals to the brain that help me determine that fear has caused my need for treatment.
  3. Low sugar candy. I’ve always been a sweet tooth and low-sugar organic popsicles or gummy bears are goodies that I eat a lot, especially after a meal when I want to continue biting, but that’s really not necessary. These little sweets satisfy my sugar cravings, digest my stomach, and send a message to my brain that I’m happy and no longer need food.

Largeman-Roth, who shares my mutual adoration for chocolate, offers some additional advice:

  1. Save it. Largeman-Roth explains that we store a lot of food these days, especially in small kitchens. We have no place in the pantry to store everything, so we literally leave cravings on the table where we see them all the time. “Keep everything you can because if you take an extra step to get it out of the pantry, you’ll think twice. If it is out of sight, it will help you keep it out of your head. “
  2. Use a small plate for your snacks. “If you grab the bag of french fries or the tube of cookies, you eat half of it without realizing it. Here we get into trouble. If you put your snacks in a small bowl or plate, you get a better view of what you eat and you will be more aware of how much you eat. ”
  3. Stick to a schedule. This is difficult for many due to the loss of routine, but use meal times to focus on family conversations and share the delicious food they may have cooked together. Like the rest of us, Largeman-Roth admits that she had to work to develop this new habit, as she was used to having her own time eating, working, and playing sports with children in school . “We slept in the first few weeks of the quarantine and stayed up later than usual. It was fine for a while, but I realized we were having breakfast very late, sometimes skipping food, and then having a big dinner in the afternoon. Again, it’s not a total disaster, but I don’t want to make it a habit, so my husband and I worked to get everyone back to normal, and that helped normalize our diet. It is healthy to be flexible now, but children and adults need a routine to be successful. “

I also consulted with a long-time colleague, Lauren Slayton, author of The Little Book of the Thin: Plan solutions for every diet dilemmaand founder of Foodtrainers. During this time, Slayton advises many of his customers:

  1. Develop substitute behavior. The last thing you want to do when you’re looking for comfort is to say, “Don’t do it.” First, that doesn’t solve the problem, and second, for many of us, there is a rebellious component in stress eating. The “no” makes us want more. Many people have a certain amount of time to eat due to stress. For some, the afternoon is an endless snack train, for others it’s after dinner. Perhaps you can exercise or take a bath after dinner. Or maybe you can watch yoga online or stretch at 3 p.m. Substitute behavior is personal, so choose what works for you.
  2. Focus on protein, fresh products and good fats. “Having these 3 components in your meals can keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable and in control, which means you have ammunition against the fear monster.” Slayton explains how protein is a natural appetite suppressant, so he eats eggs, fish, and lean meats, vegetables, and fruits with fiber like cabbage or broccoli. And for fats, use what Slayton calls “great fat,” like MCT oil or avocado, which helps you reduce sugar and satisfy hunger.
  3. Chill out Kryptonite. “Almost everyone has something to eat or drink to lean on. For one person (ok, it’s me) it’s a cocktail, for another it’s something freshly baked,” explains Slayton. We had enough quarantine time to identify our own Kryptonite in particular and try to tame it. “If alcohol is your option, try to schedule at least two” dry nights “a week. If you crave sweets in the morning, afternoon, and evening, choose a time of day to enjoy a serving of sweets. on a plate or napkin. The goal is to calm them down Kryptonite, but try nothing serious that is only counterproductive ”.

During his phone sessions, some customers said to Slayton, “There is a part of me that feels like I should take care of it (eat) when it is over.” While the urge to feed anxiety with comfort foods is understandable, she is confident of adopting better eating habits. You will feel more energy and a more positive attitude while you work, study at home and try to survive for some. Who knows? Perhaps this is your chance to create a new habit and quarantine yourself as a healthier and stronger version of yourself.