Finding yourself at home with more uninterrupted access to food can mean you’re finding yourself snacking more through the day – and not because you’re necessarily hungry. There are few roadblocks to the pantry and fridge. Emotions such as boredom, procrastination and stress can send our brains into old patterns of using food to cope.
Arguably this can feel like one of the hardest challenges we will face during this time, as we do not have our typical distractions or external factors which can help us to avoid being tempted by this emotional eating. For this reason, one of the first things I encourage you to take note of is you are not alone. Remember in times of stress such as this, your brain will revert to old habits and especially those which create the ‘feel-good’ chemical processes that we have easy access to (i.e. food, alcohol).
If you’re interested in addressing this, here are 3 steps to take which can make a big difference:
Step 1: Be curious
Bring awareness to what’s going on internally. Logically we are aware that we are not reaching for food out of pure physical hunger- so what else is going on? The more we know about our triggers (environments, emotions, timing, etc.) the more easily we can appropriately address those and create new habits.
Step 2: Manage physical hunger
Your body is more likely to get over-hungry and exacerbate cravings for snacky foods if it is under-fueled. A general guide is to eat every 3-4 hours through the day. Typically, this means 3 meals and 2 snacks. Allow yourself permission to eat enough during the day (i.e. a whole lunch meal, protein at breakfast, etc.) so that your hunger does not catch up to you at the 3 p.m. witching hour.
Step 3: Slow it down more to go further, faster
Remember your brain will have a hard time finding satisfaction from distracted eating. This can feel like we have eaten ‘enough’ to satisfy our physical body yet our mind is left ‘wanting more’. Eating a little slower will help your brain catch up to your body and heighten its appreciation factor.
The more we lean into recognizing our patterns the more we can create separation from our emotions and urges from our food choices. We know that the desire to ‘snack’ will likely not go away entirely, yet we can recognize it for what it is (a feeling) vs. a physical need.
By Erika DeRooy, PRO Medical Dietitian Services Manager and Registered Dietitian
PRO Medical’s Registered Dietitians provide personalized meal plans and education to support you in making realistic lifestyle changes and in achieving your individual goals. We have experts in a variety of areas and provide support for adults, pediatrics and families.
For healthy recipes that you can use these seasonal ingredients in, view our recipes here.