Eating During COVID-19!

We’re eating… We’re definitely eating. If we're not eating,we're talking about what we’re going to eat, or what we ate last night. We're detailing how we prepared it, debating how we’re going to prepare it… And pondering where, when and how we’re going to buy the ingredients for meal that we’re going to prepare… There is a lot of focus on food.  (Now for me, that’s not a new phenomenon, I have always been food focused. Hence the recipes and the classes I teach!) 

We’re getting more creative. That’s a great thing. We have to be creative to use the food that we've bought so it doesn’t go bad between our (weekly?) shopping trips. Trips that, for me and many others, used to be daily. We’re projecting what we’ll need and coming up with ways to use it up.

Maybe we’re not eating MORE food, but I think we’re eating differently than we used to.

Yes, we’re eating at home so we, most likely, are eating better than we have in the past…  Less preservatives, more organic… We know what’s going onto our plate because we’re preparing it ourselves.

But what about the type of recipes we’re gravitating towards? People are talking about pasta and breads and cookies and cakes (oh my!) a lot more lately! In a time of Gluten-free and Keto and Paleo diets, this return to carb-binging seems to have become more socially acceptable. (Point – Yeast and flour were unavailable for awhile because people were buying so much of it!)


Why are we eating so much differently than we did in February? Are we self-medicating with food? Are we snacking more to stave off sadness?

I think, absolutely.

We’re lonely, we’re anxious, we’re adjusting to a new way of life and an unknown future. What brings us the most comfort? Well, besides a big hug, which may not be available right now, (or, for those of us who have been sheltered in place with LOVED ones for too long, may not even be welcome 😊…)  FOOD! And we’re not talking about an apple here. 

Carbs and sugar are notorious for being labeled “comfort” food. 

And, for many reasons – 

They bring memories of better times – Sweets and carb-laden meals are often associated with memories of foods at holidays, our childhood, times with our family and friends. We may not be really wanting the food as much as we want the experience. If we’re making our mom’s apple cake recipe, it may not be the cake we miss as much as it is our mom.

Physiological reaction – When we’re craving carbs, it's because we're drawn to foods that encourage serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is needed for mood regulation. Research shows that having a meal high in carbohydrates tends to raise levels of serotonin. That is also the case when we eat carbs that are healthy (brown rice, whole grains, etc.) but that isn’t always the food we turn to when looking for a hug from the inside out.

Boredom – Many people are used to being busy, busy, busy. We may find we  have more time on our hands than before. So, eating or watching TV or eating WHILE watching TV is a mind-numbing solution to that boredom!

We’re still sheltering-in-place. If we continue to maintain this eating pattern, we are NOT going to be happy in the long run. (The aptly named expression, COVID-15, is how we’ve wryly named the weight we’re gaining!) 

So... What should we do? 

We should give credence to our feelings.  No matter what our situation, it IS different than what it was before. We’re bombarded with news of suffering, death and sadness. It takes a toll. We miss our family, our friends, our old lives. Maybe we’re sad, maybe we’re scared, maybe we’re anxious, maybe we’re lonely. 
These are ALL valid emotions during this time, even if our situation may not be as bad as some of what we hear about. 
These feelings are still valid. 
So, we eat to soothe those feelings.
Once we’ve acknowledged our feelings and the reason we’re eating, it may be easier to make better choices.

Ways to bring ourselves more comfort – 

Exercise - We have all heard how exercise can increase our serotonin levels. Get outside, in a socially distanced way, in the fresh air and expend some energy! Go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go for a run! If we can’t leave our house, we can use the backyard, patio or balcony… Or we can open the windows and move our bodies indoors. There are so many great opportunities online for exercising – either live on zoom meetings or taped videos. We can find the ones that work for us and DO IT. 

Eat more fruit - The sweetness in the fruit will help us with sugar cravings. Our bodies DO need sugar, just not the processed sugars that come along with most cakes and cookies, even homemade. Yes, it is sugar, in the form of fructose, but the fiber and the properties of the whole fruit will help our body process the sugar, the way it is designed to do! 

Eat healthy carbs – Yes, the carbs will still help our serotonin level, but our bodies will be happier with the healthy choices. Opt for brown rice over white, add in more whole grains, quinoa, spelt, oatmeal…  Change up the idea of bread. There are plenty of ways we can eat breads, even pizza, without resorting to white flour.
Almond Flour Bread makes great toast and Quinoa Flatbread makes a great pizza. There are great alternative pastas such as red lentil pasta or other bean pastas. (It may take a little longer cooking time to get them soft and more similar to white pasta, but they are GREAT substitutions. 

Eat healthy treats – Treats don’t have to be “bad” when we can make healthy treats such as
Mango (Mighty) Mousse or Greensicle Smoothie. The Red Lentil Brownies do not increase blood sugar and have protein and fiber to boot. The Coconut Cake also has similar properties of the Red Lentil Brownies and will satisfy a sweet tooth without derailing blood sugar counts!

Refocus – We can take our focus off of the news and put it onto something that will spark our interest. There are many online courses, self-help, home interior design or repair, language, music, art, meditation… name it… it’s available. We can tackle the projects we’ve been putting off. Perhaps volunteer projects that can be done at home? What gives us purpose? 

Socialize – We can schedule online meetings with friends and family. It gives us something to look forward to other than food.  Get-togethers online allow us to celebrate our relationships with others. These get-togethers can bring so much enjoyment we may wonder why we waited this long to do this! (And contrary to how we socialize in person, I’ve found that eating while zooming is NOT a lovely thing. Imagine, all the person is looking at is our face… while we put food into it. Yeah, we can table the fancy appetizers for another time…. )

So, today, instead of drowning our sorrows with cookies…. Let’s get excited about eating healthy and see what we can do that’s good for our body in this time of uncertainty and fear.

We’re worth it!




Having a Holistic Health Coach means you don't have to do it alone. Contact me to schedule a complimentary consultation to see if health coaching is right for you. This is your chance to spend an hour talking about YOU.

To Life - To Health, Health Coaching by Barbara
Barbara Leland
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