I’ve had many sessions with clients over the past two weeks who are understandably very uneasy, scared, and thrown off of their normal healthy eating routines. One common thought I’ve heard them relate is, “What does this really matter with all that is going on with the coronavirus?” While I understand that the state of the world can be overwhelming and frightening at the moment, I would argue that working to control your eating is important now more than ever.
Why is this? Well, one thing we know for certain is that when people have a good eating day, they feel good, period. They feel physically better as a result of eating good food, and they feel mentally better because they feel in control and proud of themselves. When people have an off-track eating day, they feel regretful and out of control. They sometimes feel physically uncomfortable, and psychologically they feel mad at themselves, knowing they were degrading their health. Right now there is so much going on in the world that you can’t control – eating is something you can control. Taking control of the things you can will feel so much better than letting everything slide out from under you. Right now when we’re all holed up at home and everything is closed, many of our usual sources of pleasure aren’t available to us (movies, meeting friends, dinners out, concerts, museums, etc.). Maintaining control over your eating is one major thing you can do to help boost both your physical and mental health, which is sorely, sorely needed right now.
When I was in session with a client this week (all of which are done remotely), she recognized that she was giving in to coronavirus-related stress eating, and felt determined to turn things around. We made this list of things she could do when the stress and anxiety felt particularly strong:
- Go for a walk, either outside or in her house.
- Call or video-chat a friend.
- Use her meditation app and do a 3-5 minute meditation.
- Give herself permission to not be productive for 30 minutes and read a book, listen to a podcast, take a nap, etc.
- Declutter something.
- Make a gratitude list – either of things she will be grateful for when this is over (stocked shelves at the supermarket, giving a stranger a handshake, meeting a friend for lunch) or something she’s grateful for right now (food delivery service, spending more time with her daughter, reading more).
If you don’t have a list of things to help you de-stress, make one now! Consult it daily and remind yourself why it matters to care about your eating right now. Regaining control or staying in control is guaranteed to make you feel better than the opposite, and we need all the good feelings we can get. This matters. This is important. You can do this.