I remember when the weather called for a New England blizzard my Dad would make an “emergency run” to the grocery store to pick up a “few things.” It was so exciting because I knew a “few things” meant gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, my favorite ice cream, tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and buttery popcorn for movie night. Could life get any better?
During a virtual coffee date with my girlfriend this week, I came to realize I’ve been using the stay-at-home social-distancing policy as an excuse to act like a 10 year old on a crazy long school-snow-day.
Based on my social media accounts it looks like I’m not alone! It seems restrictions on dining out and limited social contact has contributed to an explosion of instagram pics showing off steamy comfort foods and delicious looking baked goods. Personally, I don’t bake. Ever. And for good reason: I eat everything I bake.
Fast forward to the first week of an unprecedented pandemic and I’ve already baked banana muffins, angel food cake, dozens of brownies, chocolate covered pretzels and ginger snap cookies. Ughhh! Cooking and baking brings comfort to many. It feels good to do something. I get it. But it can be a slippery slope to weight regain.
Here are a few tips to consider if your tasty creations are luring you off track:
1. Accept that there is a new normal
This is a very hard - but necessary - step. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned. None of us have ever dealt with a crisis of this scale. It’s normal to feel anxious about our health, our jobs, and our loved ones. However, beware that stress, anxiety, and uncertainty is a recipe for a binge if we feed these emotions rather than feel them. Reach out to someone you trust, a therapist or coach if you find yourself feeding your emotions.
2. Clear out trigger foods
What’s a trigger food? It’s something that once you start eating it you can’t stop (re: my baked goods list). Why torture yourself? Why make things harder than they already are? Get rid of the stuff. Don’t buy it, bake it or make it! A “treat” isn’t a “treat” if you have it multiples times a day.
3. Get back to basics
Routines can create a sense of calmness during uncertain times. Structuring your meals and planning snacks will go a long way. Be conscious of your portion sizes and food choices. Stabilizing your eating patterns will help bring a greater sense of emotional stability during these hectic times.
4. Ground yourself
The ever-changing sea of information can unsettle your day, make it difficult to concentrate, and create a chain of stress responses in your body - leaving you craving quick burning carbs. A few moments of quiet deep breathing can go a long way to remind your body that it’s safe and okay. Movement and music is another great source of calming the body. There are also wonderful free resources such as Micheal Seeley’s guided relaxation exercises.
5. Stay connected
It’s hard to avoid eating when you're bored or lonely. Create connections by phone, video conferencing or texting - and know that you are not alone. #nevergiveup