Food has always been used as a sticking plaster and source of comfort when the going gets tough, but no more so than in the wake of a global pandemic. In an attempt to quell the uncertainty of the current circumstances, food is a welcome distraction from the challenges of our current reality.
In an initial estimate of retail sales for March 2020, The Office of National Statistics has reported food stores seeing the strongest growth in sales volume on record, at 10.4%. With restrictions placed on shopping and movement, going to the supermarket or ordering a shop online has become the highlight of the week.
As an eating psychology coach, I am getting numerous messages from people saying that they can’t seem to stop snacking at the moment and, as enjoyable as it has been to indulge, as the time in lockdown is extended, overeating is leading to more negative emotions like regret and physical discomfort from weight gain.
If you’re finding yourself reaching for the cookie jar more than you would normally, here are three things you can do to take back some control:
- Try to make more conscious choices about what you are eating by planning your meals and shopping to your plan. Setting an intention to eat well by creating a meal plan makes it more likely that you will stick to it, and creating your shopping list from the plan means it’s less likely that you will become distracted or aimlessly browse when in-store or online. If you don’t have biscuits in the cupboard, you won’t be tempted by them when you hit a low point.
- Write a list of the other things bring you emotional reward or provide a happy distraction and refer to it when you are feeling the urge to snack between meals. Things like having a bath, speaking to a friend, getting crafty – whatever it is that brings you joy or comfort other than eating, put it on the list and stick it somewhere you can see it.
- Get real with your emotions. Many people have difficulty accepting negative emotions, but the truth is, they are unavoidable. Acknowledging that you are not going to feel happy all the time, and being kind to yourself when you do feel a little low, takes the pressure off and makes it less likely that you will turn to food to hide from it.
If you are struggling with persistent emotional eating patterns then take a look at my online course recommended in Grazia magazine, Overcome Emotional Eating. It teaches you effective tools and techniques that you can use to end the cycle of emotional eating patterns and feel much better in yourself.
If you’d like to read my article on the steps to overcoming emotional eating, you’ll find it here.