Stress is a normal reaction to challenging or unsure times in our lives, but sometimes too much stress can cause negative effects. Therefore, it is important to recognize how stress impacts your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
Take some time to check-in with yourself and your eating habits during stressful times. As we are encouraged to stay home for our own health and the health of others, you may notice that:
- Your regular eating habits are all out of tune
- You are snacking or eating more often than normal
- You are eating larger or smaller portions
- You are not eating at all during the day
- You are eating at different times than usual (eg. very late or very early)
Tips for Maintaining Regular Eating Habits in Times of Stress:
1. Tune into your hunger cues
You may be noticing that you are eating more often than usual due to stress. Periodically throughout the day and before a meal or snack it may be helpful to check-in with how you are feeling. You may ask yourself:
"Am I actually hungry? If yes, how hungry am I?"
"Am I bored? Stressed? Anxious? If yes, is eating what I need right now?
Some things you can do instead of eating out of boredom:
- Drink some water
- Go for a walk and get fresh air
- Read a good book
- Play or listen to music
- Watch a show or movie
- Clean / do chores or organize
Asking yourself these questions will help you to become more in tune with your hunger cues and may help you to make a more conscious choice.
2. Set reminders on your phone or computer
If you are finding it challenging to eat throughout the day or are eating at different times than usual it may be helpful to set reminders on your phone or computer. These reminders can be set to your usual eating times and will give you an opportunity to check in with your hunger and energy levels.
3. Meal preparation
Having prepared meals on hand may be helpful for individuals who find it hard to eat while stressed or those who are eating at different times than normal as it is convenient and easy.
If meal preparation was part of your daily routine, continue to schedule in time to prep meals for the week. In contrast, if you find cooking adds to your stress, it may be helpful to meal prep so that most of the cooking can be done 1-2 times per week.
4. Be kind to yourself
Now more than ever, in these uncertain and potentially scary times, it is important to be kind to yourself and others. It may take time to adjust to this new lifestyle and situation so let yourself do so with patience. Eating when we are stressed is a form of coping with the situation and it is okay to engage in this coping strategy. However, there are many other coping strategies that can help you get through this stressful time.