Updated: Jun 1, 2020
The spread of the COVID-19 virus affected the daily life of millions of people, globally. Spending more time indoors and less time commuting and socialising doesn’t feel relaxing or instill any confidence if you’re already struggling with your relationship with food.
Food shortages in shops mean that you may need to get extra to stock up or buy foods you normally wouldn't, just because that’s all that’s available. Not so easy to do if you struggle with extra time on your hands and extra food in the house.
If you know that being stuck indoors or working from home gets a little difficult for you, here are a few strategies that may help feel more in control of your food habits and reduce anxiety during these uncertain times.
Keep a routine
If you’re working from home, you will notice the true power of routine and structure to your day. It’s no different with food. If you’re used to having your meal times dictated by your work schedule, it’s a great opportunity to duplicate that in your day now. Perhaps meal times could be the main structure that holds your day together?
Having regular meals at set times also helps balance blood sugar fluctuations and reduces sugar cravings, so you don’t experience overwhelming urges.
Stay out of the kitchen
Boredom or procrastination often comes in a disguise of hunger or urges for particular foods, chocolate often being the classic go-to. This is where you may need to be a little firm with yourself and remind yourself that you have no business in the kitchen between meals.
“I’ll just see what’s in the cupboard” is very likely to lead to habitual grazing or binges, so make sure you change something about your routine- perhaps close the door to the kitchen, leave a post-it for yourself somewhere you can see it or put the sweet snacks in a different cupboard.
Although these sound like small steps, they will help create space between you and the habitual snacking and even a few seconds of pausing between taking action that allow your logical brain to take over and help you make thought-through decisions.
Limit social media and media time
Whether you feel the increased anxiety and stress after watching the news or spending hours scrolling on social media, it’s a brilliant idea to limit your media exposure during quarantine. If you still want to know what’s going on in the world, it’s a great idea to set a limit of 10-15 min daily and check the news online, where you have a choice of what to read, rather than have it blasting at you 24/7.
Although it is easy to scroll on social media if you’re missing social contact, are bored and hope to see what your friends are up to, it is easy to get affected by other people’s lives, what you should/ should not be doing. Next thing you know you may be heading to the kitchen for comfort and to cope with unpleasant feelings. Choose to be in charge of your day and also cap your daily social media time.
Get outside regularly
Sounds obvious, but if you’re feeling uneasy, fidgety or bored, it’s necessary to make sure you schedule daily time outdoors. Being outside not only supports a positive mindset and boosts wellbeing, but also helps you break state if cravings start to take over. Spending time outdoors is an excellent antidote to cabin fever and even a 10-15min walk can change the trajectory of the entire day.
Take time to prep your meals
Working from home means that there’s more time spent at home and less time spent commuting. If you struggle with bingeing and grazing through the day, consciously channel that energy and extra time into preparing delicious and nutritious meals instead. If you are grazing on snack foods that are lacking nutrition, they may leave you unfulfilled and still hungry for more and create further cravings.
However, if you focus on making tasty meals packed with nutrition- the vitamins, minerals and fiber help you feel more satisfied and help curb cravings. Take time and get creative with what you can find in the shops, it’s a great time to experiment with whatever is available. Yet, making sure you eat plenty of colourful foods, daily.
Connect with real humans
Ok, perhaps right now meeting friends and family over Zoom or conference calls might have to be the next best thing, however it’s essential to carve out time for socialising, however that may look like for you now. Connecting with people is an essential human need and especially if you live alone, you may need to make extra effort to make sure you talk to somebody daily.
Although texting and messaging is a good way to connect, always aim to call or have a video call. Utilise as many ways as you can so it feels as close to a real encounter as possible. Not only will this help keep positive during the crisis, it will also help break the state and reduce cravings that are linked to loneliness.
It may seem like isolation will take absolutely forever, yet I am sure quarantine is all finished, many of us will wonder “What did I do with this time?”
If you truly want to make the best out of the quarantine and extra time, it’s a good idea to ask yourself “How would I like to feel?” If you’re a really busy superwoman most of the time, chances are you never have time for self-care and looking after the #1. This is your chance to reclaim the space and time, which is just for you. Or even better, put “self-care” in your daily vocabulary, if that hasn’t been the case until now.
Challenge yourself to do self-care every single day during isolation, even if it is just 5 min. It may seem like 5 min is not enough to make a real difference, but if it means having a cup of tea between calls or putting your feet up may reduce your stress level, it may, in turn, reduce sugar cravings.
A great opportunity to eventually increase the self-care time and create some rituals that feel like the much-deserved time for your mind and body to renourish. Whether it’s a long bath with music and essential oils or simply having a nap in the afternoon on the cosy sofa.
Medical Disclaimer - I am not a doctor, medical professional or a dietician. The information I provide is based on my professional experience as a Nutritional Therapist, studies provided and on my personal experience. Any recommendations I may make about diet changes, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle, or information provided to you on this website should be discussed between you a medical or healthcare professional. The information you receive in these blogs do not take the place of professional medical advice.