Coronavirus and the social distancing measures being used to combat it are creating unprecedented changes to daily life for people around the world. Obviously, the devastating damage to physical health and the world economy are at the forefront of the discussion. But there will be other side effects that will be destructive to people’s mental health as well. One of those areas I have personal experience with is food issues. I will always have some lingering struggles with my relationship with food and over the past few days I have already felt some familiar triggers.
People who have a troubled relationship with food thrive on routine. In my experience, a disruption in routine is the most common cause for me to binge. Combined with stress, economic insecurity, isolation, boredom, and uncertain access to specific foods, this situation is a perfect storm for people with food issues. I have been thinking about these issues over the last few days and wanted to share some tips I think could help to deal with it.
Tips for Dealing with Food Issues During Coronavirus
Focus on Health- One potential positive of this catastrophe is the realization of how precious our health is. We always want to do our best to stay healthy and if I try to focus on food as a way to maximize my health, I find myself making better decisions.
Create New Healthy Routines
Social distancing is a big change to our daily lives. The first week felt more like having a snow day. But we have to realize this is going to be our reality for the foreseeable future. We can’t just spend the day watching netflix and eating oreos. Everyone should take some time and create a schedule for themselves. Especially, if you are now working from home or taking care of kids, scheduling your time will make the day so much easier. Schedule your work time, your breaks, meals, outdoor time, and leisure time.
Being stuck at home all day, especially as we head into Spring is really frustrating. But it doesn’t mean we have to spend all day on the couch. Go outside for a walk and some fresh air. Or if you are used to going to the gym, there are lots of resources for home workouts or yoga you can find on youtube. Keeping our bodies active is really key to mental health.
Don’t Hoard Food
As of now, I don’t think there is any reason to think our food supply will dry up. We won’t have the same access to every ingredient, but we don’t have to buy months worth of snacks. Sometimes having so much food in the house can create a mentality which causes people like us to binge. If you do stock up on food, consider keeping it stored away until you need it.
Reach out For Help Online
Isolation can be disastrous for mental health. If you are used to seeing a therapist, ask them if you can have your sessions on the phone or online. If you go to group support meetings, look into online resources. There are online meetings for OA, and I am sure there will be similar groups popping up out of necessity.
Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself
We are all going to have to do our best to get through the next few months. Everyone is going to struggle one way or another. I think we can find some solace in the fact that we are all in this together. So much of my relationship with food is based on pressure I put on myself and pressure I feel from the outside world. Times like these are a good reminder that there are more important priorities to focus on than our weight or the way we look.
I have so much empathy for everyone struggling with mental health issues during this time. If you have any advice or kind words, please share them. We will all get through this together.