Stress Eating During a Pandemic

Why We Do it and How to Manage it

Stress eating is a common response to periods of heightened stress and uncertainty. As we continue to navigate the current Coronavirus pandemic, many factors may be triggering you or a loved one to stress eat in response

  • Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on healthy behaviors
  • Changes in stress hormones can lead to changes in hunger hormones
  • Food is often used to find comfort or as a distraction
  • If you’re dehydrated, you may confuse thirst for hunger

Shown below, OAC summarized tips for managing stress eating that were provided by Robert Kushner, MD, an obesity medicine specialist who also helps spearhead the educational program of OAC’s Annual Convention each year. He covers these tips in complete detail on his website at DrRobertKushner.com.

Tips to Combat Stress Eating

1) Plan in Advance:

  • Keep food in your house that YOU will eat regularly, not just what other members of the household will eat.
  • Whether you venture to the grocery store every so often or order online, fill up your shopping list with nutritious foods that will keep you full: lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and whole-grain items.
  • Take advantage of healthy grab-n-go foods like string cheese, Greek yogurt cups, sliced oranges, grapes and broccoli florets.
  • Look online for energy-dense recipes you can try with family.

2) Set Boundaries to Eat Mindfully:

  • Designate a specific place to eat that’s not at your desk or on the couch.
  • Make it a rule to only eat when you have these 3 items: a table, plate and chair.
  • If you catch yourself snacking, log what/when/why you eat in a journal to identify stressful triggers and coping habits.

3) Seek Out Other Ways to Cope

  • Schedule virtual hangouts or “happy hours” with your loved ones via web cam, or just pick up the phone and call someone.
  • Listen to music, journal, read a book or try any creative exercise.
  • Go for a walk, try a video-led workout, do some yard work or “dance it out.”

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By: Obesity Action Coalition