How to avoid overeating during lockdown is the question everyone is asking right now.
Stress eating is a common and reasonable answer to everything that is happening around us.
However, for a longer period of time it is best to make certain strategies to control your emotions.
Many people are struggling with overeating right now, probably with different ways than they are used to.
There is a large scale research which suggests that when people are in stressful situations one of the first things they change is their eating habits.
There are physiological reasons to chose food when the world is upside down.
Body is craving food rich in calories and sugars. This is because these kinds of foods provide short term bursts of energy.
Stress leads to increased levels of cortisol which can increase appetite.
In addition sweet food creates dopamine, neurotransmitter connected to motivation and reward.
Overeating can also activate pleasure centre in your brain and psychologically protect you from negative emotions you feel at that time.
Seeking pleasures through food is a common strategy. Around 38% of grown ups report that during stressful period in their lives they tend to overeat with unhealthy food.
With bad problem solving main factors of job related stress is uncertainty and lack of control. Two things we so much in these quarantine days.
Accordingly, sometimes emotional overeating is the only tool to face this stress in the times like these.
It is alright to catch a little break once in a while.
Unique Stressors – How To Avoid Overeating ?
It may seem heartless to talk about stressful overeating while many people worry about having enough food and money during isolation.
However, worrying about food can grow itself into emotional overeating.
Limitation, whether it is physical(not having physical approach to food) or emotional(food is seen as bad) can have strong effect on a person and incited food disorder.
This feeling of limitation, if people have it, is now interacting with other unique stressors. In addition they are connected to social isolation and shelters.
One of these stressors is loss of routine. This has bad impact on people who have rich working and social life.
For example. Think about average office worker.
He has one meal before going to work, one bought meal during the day and one warm meal when he comes home.
Because of pandemic this person has lost known timeline of events during the day.
The need to spend excess mental energy on every of these decisions can lead to larger anxiety.
Other stressor in this moment is boredom which is getting bigger and bigger.
At the same time, people are used to their usual strategies of facing a problem. Such as seeing a friend or go to nature, however, this is not possible at this time.
There are 5 factors of risk which can make someone more susceptible to eating disorders.
Mental Health Problems
Anxiety and depression in most cases.
Problems With How People View Themselves.
This is a common problem for people who have trouble with their own body.
If they are constantly changing their diet and weight before pandemic they are in a bad place right now.
Impulsive personality can be displayed in the form of overplaying games, gambling or misuse of drugs.
This when you reach for food every time you are upset.
Friends And Cousins Which Have Problems With Eating
Line above tells it all.
Most people probably have overeating periods from time to time, however, this is not classified as eating disorder.
It is usual that someone has a desire to eat whole pizza, this should not be worrying.
However, mild form of eating disorder is when this becomes more and more often.
Although overeating can make you feel good for a short period of time and gain some sense of comfort, bare in mind that it will not last.
This good feeling is followed by guilt, which increases stress.
How To Avoid Overeating?
It is a thin line between “I like to eat and enjoy food.” and “I am enjoying so much I have no control over myself.”.
First one is completely normal and healthy, while the other one is one of the main characteristics of stressful overeating.
It this time of quarantine it is hard to recognize obsession and even harder to admit it.
Although you are not sure what is going on, you lose control and cannot stop.
Above all you still think that this is all happening just because food is delicious.
You Are Not Your Overeating
Don’t identify yourself with your behaviour.
Every one of us has made something that they are not proud of. This is not bad, quite the opposite.
This shows us that we did something that is not us. Our values are completely different from that.
If they weren’t we would not feel guilty.
Labelling yourself can be very bad, because we automatically adjust on certain behaviour which we do not want to do.
Everyone strives toward better feeling, and if food is your valve, it is quite clear and natural why you did it.
Without guilt, the cure is compassion to yourself.
How To Avoid Overeating – Focus On Positive Things
Nothing is black and white, and it is up to use to decide on which part we are going to focus on.
Although it is popular to thing that you can solve lot of things by focusing on problems, sometimes it is quite the opposite.
When we allow ourselves to see everything pretty, it is easier to motivate and work on what is troubling us.
Do you notice when you have increased cravings for food?
Is it when you are happy? Sad? Stressed?
What are you doing in that moment?
Is there a way to prevent or at least make those situations a little better?
Devote yourself to you and your thoughts.
Write down every time you think about food.
At the end of the day it will be crystal clear when you are not thinking about food and focus on that moment.
Can you extend it by doing something more?
What were you doing when you are not thinking about food?
You Want To Eat But You Are Not Hungry?
We all have moments like these. However, difference is when, how, and what is done in the end?
When you feel hunger, assess the situation if you are really hungry or there is a reason you want to eat certain food.
Also, the fact is that this happens more often when we are surrounded by food.
Would you really eat that candy bar if it was not there on the table?
Maybe, but probably not.
It is important not to judge yourself for anything, it takes time to learn to recognize real hunger.
Everyone eats when they are not hungry, it is really common practice for many people.
Problem begins when it is not controlled and often.
Which Food Is Your Favourite?
You can easily resist peanut but not chocolate?
Of course when you think about chocolate you can easily eat it whole.
This does not mean you cannot eat it, but it would be good if you can limit to eating only in certain conditions.
Try putting everything you eat in a bowl instead of eating it out of a bag.
When you eat food out of a bag you lose sense of amount, you only realise this when you eat the whole bag.
How To Avoid Overeating – Feel The Taste Of Food
It is common for emotional overeating to eat food as fast as you can.
By doing this it is very hard to even feel the taste of food in the right way.
Sit at the table and eat slowly, feel the food in every moment.
You will notice how you only feel the taste of the 10 bites, after that the feeling fades.
On every few bites ask yourself does the next one lead you to your goal or away from it?
The feeling you get will give you the answer to this question.
You Are In Control
Although it may not feel like it, know that you control everything you eat 100% of the time.
In every moment you have the power to control what you eat or what you will not eat.
Will you feel good or bad after overeating? What drives you to do it now?
Whatever you decide, be aware that you have a choice. It can always be different.
It is also very important to know that you are not alone in this. So many people is in the same situation right now just like you.
Talk about it with your friends, family.
Be proud of yourself that you took the first step in solving problems and taking care of yourself.
How To Avoid Overeating – Control Your Triggers
One of the tools can be “time to worry”, give yourself 30 minutes of time to approve all negative emotions about what is worrying you.
Allow yourself to feel emotions in intensity which they are in. Even if you have the need to scream, write in your diary, call your friends. Do everything you need to do.
After that, just put those feeling aside until the next time to worry.
Not a single soul can endure so much fear and pain and negative emotions during the whole day.
This technique will not be good for everyone, but it is worth a try.
Other tool is means to finding replacement for emotional overeating.
- Names of 5 people you can all when you are down
- 5 ways to relax
- places you can go and calm down (for example a room in your house you like)
- 5 things you can say to yourself (for example, “this will all pass”)
- 5 activities you can do to divert attention.
Goal is to understand why you are craving that chocolate bar.
It may not be craving for chocolate, but for relaxation and change.
If you discover that you are looking for food even when you are not hungry, and you know that food is not forbidden or limited, than it is a great information.
Your body is wanting something from you. Now is the right time to ask yourself what that is.
It is important to know our triggers.
Is it that your are always online, or bad news? This is why you should eat comforting meal before you turn on TV or go to a news website.
Food can be source of feeling of comfort and connection during hard times.
However, your health, and more important your relationships will be stronger if you reach for the telephone instead of cookies next time you want to feel good.
If you know someone that is dealing with self judgment for overeating, staying in contact with them during quarantine is useful for both sides.
I hope that this really gave you the answer to your question on how to avoid overeating during lockdown.