In my work, I utilize the concepts of Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size(R), and body image work to help people find true wellness without obsession. If you want to book a free introductory call to see if we’re a good fit, click the “work with me” tab. Follow me on Instagram @shantinutrition so I can say hello!
Since our relationships with food, our bodies and our health are VERY complex, this post should not be used as substitute for doing this healing work but I DO want to hopefully provide a little bit of guidance on a few “hot” topics right now. I hope you find it helpful!
People have asked specifically about “overindulging and finding balance with food during quarantine”. What a GREAT question! And it has MANY layers, so let’s break it down a little.
First, when we feel like we are “overindulging” or “overeating” or “overdoing” it, it’s typically because we were “underdoing” it in some way. In other words, one of the biggest reasons for overeating is undereating. Let’s think of a stray cat. When you give food to a stray cat, they gobble it all up immediately, because they’re not sure when they’re going to get food again, understandably.
Then you have my house cat – Marshmallow – who gently grazes on her food throughout the day when she’s hungry and often leaves food in the bowl. Especially if there’s particular foods we don’t “allow” ourselves to have (pizza, ice cream, cake, bread, pasta, whatever) then when push comes to shove (a pandemic, for example) and we end up getting in front of that food we feel out of control and “overdo” it. But it’s not because there’s anything wrong with you. It’s because food is much more than nourishment (i.e. comfort, culture, connection, community) and it feels good to eat. We can only hold our breath underwater for so long!
Making peace with food starts by switching from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. Think about toilet paper. Before it was scarce, I never worried about grabbing it at the grocery store. Now mid pandemic, my desire for TP and thoughts around it have gone way up. Ever since we went to BJ’s and scored 24 rolls of it, I feel fine! Same thing with food – allow yourself to feel safe around food by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat it. The strong desire for it may take a bit to go away, but once you know you can always have more, the intensified feelings tend to subside. This can take time, so try and be patient with yourself! Especially if you’ve been dieting or even subconsciously restricting food or certain foods for a longer time.
Our bodies are biologically wired to save us. So in periods of restriction (not eating enough) our metabolism slows, our thoughts around food increase, our hunger hormone (ghrelin) goes way up all in an effort to get us to eat so we can stay alive. Our bodies just want to save us! ALSO it’s okay to eat past the point of fullness sometimes! The key is to incorporate self-care and mindfulness practices to (for the most part) listen to our bodies, honor and respect what they’re telling us.
Another layer in all of this has to do with food, emotions, and coping skills. Emotional eating means you’re human! It is natural and normal to have a physical, mental, and emotional response to stress, chaos and uncertainty. Send yourself some compassion for being human! If you notice yourself eating a bit more during this stressful time, know that it simply means you’re not a robot.
Food is meant to be comforting and rewarding. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t want to eat, and eating is of course essential for life so this would be a big problem. It only becomes uncomfortable and problematic when eating is our ONLY coping skill.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to take care of myself in this moment?” Maybe it’s have the cookie AND do one of these things, or just do one of these things…
- Walk outside
- Deep breaths
- Move your body
- Facetime a friend
- Spring cleaning
- Turn off the news
- Play an instrument
- Doodle, or do some art
When lessening the restriction/deprivation around food like we discussed above, often times it goes hand in hand with what we’re talking about here. We notice that the more we create an abundance mindset around food and truly give ourselves permission to eat without restriction or rules, the less of a desire we typically have to overeat when we get stressed. We’re able to comfort with some food or some soul food (examples I listed above) or both.
I hope you found this helpful and if you’d like to continue to conversation and work a bit more on finding peace with food, your health and your body feel free to book an introductory call here and we can chat!
In peace and health,
Lexy MS, RD, LDN, RYT