With Coronavirus taking over, many of us are having to work from home. Whilst this can feel novel and exciting for some, it can also come with that dreaded fear…
Maybe thoughts like…
- “How will I be able to control my eating?”
- “I’m home alone and nobody is watching – that’s a recipe for me to just eat all day!”
- “If I’m not as active, I might gain weight. I better be more careful”
…are pouring in, adding in even more anxiety.
I want to give you some insight into the ways in which you might be able to feel less panicked.
1. Reminder: eating is a valid way to self-soothe
Emotional eating or comfort eating is often seen as a bad thing that we should avoid doing. We need to change that mentality. Because it’s not a redundant tool for coping. And sometimes it’s the only coping toolkit we have in our bag – especially during times like now. There are far worse things you could be doing for your health than using food to soothe anxiety, stress, and facing a lot of unknowns. Give yourself some slack :).
2. Let’s get clear on overeating…
I often hear clients say that they overate. And when we delve into it, they didn’t feel physically uncomfortable. Rather than feeling guilty as they ate more than they “perceived” should be enough based on diet cultures unrealistic standards. So check in with yourself. Are you really overeating past the point of comfortable fullness? Or are you eating more than you perceive you should and it’s just making you feel guilty? If it’s the latter, you’re not overeating.
3. Are you restricting?
If you’re someone who struggles with losing control around food, it may well be that there’s some restriction going on (aka dieting). You might not be engaging in Weight Watchers, or Slimming World or anything that seems like a proper diet, but dieting has been morphed and can creep up in many sneaky ways. Many of my clients had no idea they were dieting when they first worked with me. And it’s these hidden diets that can keep us locked into a problematic relationship with food.
So are you engaging in any of the below?
If so, don’t panic. It’s just providing some insight into why you might be struggling around food. Letting go of restriction may feel like a pretty large feat right now. Especially with all of the other anxieties we have going on. But one first step may be to familiarise yourself with an approach to help you make peace with foods in the longer term. Now I imagine you have less time commuting, can you use it to engage in learning about your eating behaviours? My free online webinar might be a good place to start or this article on Intuitive Eating.
4. Are you ensuring there is food available?
It’s tricky to honour your hunger if you’ve not got a lot of food available to do so, or if you’ve not thought through some rough ideas for meals and snacks. How can you be prepared for the week without obsessing? Check out my FREE Meal Prepping Without Obsessing Guide.
5. Are you allowing yourself to get too hungry?
This might sound simple, but many clients I work with have lost the ability to tune into the subtleties of hunger. Often only noticing when hunger levels are at rock bottom. Tuning into early signs of hunger can help prevent you from getting too hungry, which can, in turn, prevent ‘out of control’ eating, overshooting satiety cues and eating past the point of comfortable fullness. This can lead to negative judgments about yourself, such as “I can’t be trusted around X food”.
Developing awareness of, and sensitivity to, these internal physiological sensations (more technically known as interoceptive awareness) can help you to develop more trust in your body.
Most people find that three meals and 2-3 snacks in a day feels good.
My free online webinar called “Ditch Dieting & Eat with Happiness” guides you through a hunger body scan and goes into more depth on this topic. If you struggle with eating past the point of comfortable fullness regularly, I would recommend checking it out!
6. Are you allowing yourself the foods that you enjoy?
Have you ever considered whether rice cakes, kale crisps, and low-calorie cereal bars leave you feeling satisfied? Quite often filling up on these low-calorie foods, or foods we think we “should eat”, leave us feeling unsatisfied. We find ourselves at some point in the day or week, uncontrollably diving into the foods we are trying to avoid (cheese, cookies, chocolate, ice-cream, etc.). Letting go of the idea that foods hold a moral value (aka they are good or bad), means we can curiously decide for ourselves whether we like certain foods, and how much of them is enough to feel good at that moment in time.
When you look to Google and find ideas that are steeped in diet culture and more pseudo diet tools. Which, might actually be keeping you locked into a problematic relationship with food – especially in the long term.
If you’re struggling with control around your eating, regularly eating past the point of comfortable fullness, and it’s been going on for some time, now might be a sensible time to seek support from a professional who is trained in non-diet approaches to support you. Because there is another way!
Another way you can get support if you’re struggling with your mental health through all of these changes is through talk therapy. Licensed mental health professionals are available online at BetterHelp.