With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe, millions of people have little choice but to stay home and self-isolate. It’s challenging not to go out and live your life as you should, but safety during these times is of the utmost importance.
That said, being stuck at home can be stressful and may lead to stress eating. People who are emotionally vulnerable may turn to food to cope with their feelings, and this may lead to overeating.
Overeating, in turn, may lead to many health problems including bloating, obesity, and eating disorders like Bulimia nervosa, a condition that affects approximately 100,000 Australians.
In this post, we look at how you can avoid stress eating while you’re at home.
Understand what you are feeling
When you’re stuck at home, feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety may cause some people to turn to food to manage their emotions.
To avoid overeating, try to determine whether you are eating food because you are hungry or if something else is influencing your eating habits. Every time you feel like you want to eat, especially if you are not hungry, try to understand the emotions you’re feeling at that moment.
Once you have discovered which emotions are triggering your eating habits, try to find other activities that can help you manage these feelings.
Keep high-calorie food out of sight
People may get cravings for food items like snacks and candies just by looking at them, even if they’re not hungry.
When you’re stuck at home, you may spend a lot of time around these snacks, and you might find it hard to control yourself. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that seeing high-calorie food can stimulate our brain, which may make you crave certain types of food, leading to overeating.
As far as possible, try keeping your food in your kitchen cupboards or refrigerator, and do not leave any food or snacks in places where you can see them constantly.
Drink plenty of fluids
Not drinking enough liquids has also been linked to stress eating. Your body tends to become dehydrated if you don’t drink adequate amounts of water and this can also affect your mood, leading to overeating.
It’s always important to drink water, even if you’re not feeling particularly thirsty. On average, adult men and women should drink at least 2.6L and 2.1L of water a day, respectively. That said, this can change based on your age and physique.
Exercise and stay fit
When you’re stuck at home, you may have a lot of time to yourself.
Exercising will give you something to focus on when you’re stuck at home for long periods. Studies also show that exercise acts as a mood booster and may help you keep emotions that make you crave food at bay.
Make yourself a daily exercise plan and set yourself workout goals. Whenever you feel peckish, try doing short, easy exercises, like stretching or even breathing exercises.
Focus on your eating
Being at home for days on end can lead to extreme boredom. Fortunately, there are many ways to counteract this boredom, like scrolling through our smartphones, Netflix, books and video games.
It’s also common for people to snack while partaking in these activities. If you eat while watching a movie, for example, it’s easy to lose track of how much you eat. As a result, you may end up overeating without realising it because your attention will be on something else, and not on eating. If you want to have a snack while you’re doing another activity, what you can do is avoid eating directly out of the container or a packet. Try and control your portion sizes.
Manage stress eating while you’re at home
Staying at home for days on end can cause stress and anxiety and lead to overeating. If you aren’t sure about how you can control your eating habits, get in touch with a medical professional to create a healthy diet plan or for any other kind of health support you need.
Author biography for Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandaraja
Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah is a specialist medical practitioner with experience in a number of leading medical institutions.
Dr Suhirdan is an Associate at Diagnostic Endoscopy Centre (DEC) in St Vincent’s Clinic, Darlinghurst and will be leading Sydney Gut Clinic and the Gastroenterology department in association with Alexandria Specialist Day Hospital. He also has appointments at St Vincent Private Hospital, Darlinghurst, Centre for Digestive Diseases (CDD) and consults at Sydney Specialist Suites, Rozelle. He is actively involved in both clinical work and research.
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