Has lockdown affected your eating?
The stress of lockdown has for many, led to comfort-seeking and indulgence. Most people know that these strategies are unhelpful, and often have negative consequences emotionally and physically. There’s no getting away from the fact that there’s a limit to the things we can do to occupy or console ourselves when we can’t mix with friends or family. For some people it’s an exceptionally stressful time, while for others it’s a time to reconnect with loved ones and enjoy quality time. If you fall into the former category getting through this difficult period could be a real struggle.
For individuals who have body image issues or food and weight-related problems, it is likely to be especially stressful. Those who have an unhealthy relationship with food often find it easier to be around people who are going to be supportive, rather than critical or judgemental. In lockdown however people have fewer options (if any) about who they spend time with. If their coping strategies usually involve the support of friends or family outside their home, being trapped in isolation alone will be difficult. If they are stuck indoors with people with whom they have a difficult relationship it can make it more tempting to over indulge or self-medicate with food and drink.
During lockdown when connecting with others might be limited to Zoom, Skype or phone, it may be a challenge to stay upbeat or focused on healthy eating. Rather than have a black and white or good or bad attitude to your behaviour you could give yourself permission to eat modest amounts of ‘that tasty thing’ from time to time but be prepared to say ‘no’ to treats or calorific foods at times too. When overeating or eating unhealthy foods is a way of coping with stress, loneliness or anxiety, new and more effective strategies need to be found.
I work with clients who recognise that their eating habits are often connected to their mood, stress levels or anxiety. It is therefore beneficial to learn new ways to challenge or work through any anxious thoughts and to have safe and healthy methods to lift low mood. I teach all my clients techniques to effectively manage their thoughts and emotions and I’m now doing this online via Zoom. Having self-help strategies usually results in a more relaxed attitude to eating and food choices which makes mealtimes (and the times in-between) more relaxed too.