I uploaded this to instagram yesterday and it seemed to hit home with people. So I’ve expanded my thoughts below…
As a dietitian who works with people suffering from eating disorders and disordered eating my thoughts often leap to thinking how people in those situations may feel. I think this applies to so many more people right now.
You don’t have to have an eating disorder to be feeling anxious about food.
Right now some or all of these may apply:
- Feeling Anxious about food and generally.
- Unsure what to eat, how to adapt meals, how to make what you have last.
- Concerned that you cannot get your usual foods that feel safe and normal.
- Aware that when you are stressed you want to eat differently too.
- Emotionally stressed and using food to help you cope.
- Either not exercising or over-exercising as a coping mechanism.
- Eating at times that are not usual for you. Perhaps skipping some meals and then eating lots later on.
- Feeling like you are bingeing on carbohydrates/sweet foods.
- Drinking more alcohol than you know you should.
- Worrying about what your weight will do over this time.
- Calorie counting/tracking in an obsessive way.
- Body checking your shape/size/in a mirror constantly.
If you are feeling any or all of these then please do not panic. Instead, try to find ways to reduce your anxiety. There are lots of free resources available currently available to help and so many things you can do at home.
- Breathing Exercises can be really helpful.
- Start a journal writing down your anxious thoughts and then end with some things that are good right now, things you are grateful for.
- Take a walk outside somewhere where you can see greenery and nature. Your garden, or a place locally. Fresh air and things of beauty help!
- Switch off the news and notifications from social media, only log in when you feel calm.
- Keep in contact with people on the phone/online.
- Try apps like Headspace and Calm.
- Gentle movement like yoga and pilates can help.
- Colouring, jigsaw puzzles and anything creative.
Now lets think about food. Whilst normally I would be advocating a healthy balanced diet there are times that we break all the rules. In a time of crisis or worldwide pandemic I think we can tear up the rulebook for a while! If it helps. If actually you need the structure and stability of a meal plan then that is absolutely fine too. This time is about nourishing your body and caring for yourself. If that means more chocolate than normal and less fruit then that is fine! This period of time will not last forever. Once you have settled into what is happening and are calmer, that is the time to get back into your normal eating routine.
If you can try to:
- Have fruit and veggies throughout your day. Tinned, frozen, dried. They all count and having them may make you feel better in terms of knowing you are looking after you.
- Stay hydrated. Water, decaff drinks, no added sugar squash.
- Eat carbs and protein at your meals or snacks, at some point in your day! If you want white over wholemeal for comfort go with it, if you don’t have your usual supplies then that is ok.
- You may be eating more fats and sugary foods at the moment, that is ok, it won’t last!
Above all be kind to yourself and try to find ways to look after your mind and body.