4 ways to control your eating during lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic is understandably causing a lot of stress and anxiety, and things may feel very uncertain right now.
If you are dealing with an eating disorder, you might be concerned as to what to do when the problem arises.
We spoke to a dietitian, Mbali Mapholi of Mbali Mapholi Inc on what you can do to deal with eating disorders during the lockdown, and below is what she said.
Adopt a routine
Keeping to your normal eating daily routine as much as possible during lockdown is important. Ideally it is important to keep to a daily routine, which is all about living a life that feels good and is realistic to you. This helps take away the anxiety and distress that comes with uncertainty around food. Being stuck in a house with others can make the eating disorder 'rules' hard to maintain. Equally, if you are living alone, isolation can cause one to adopt destructive coping strategies.
These factors make it harder than normal to stick to a normal routine. However, this is achievable when you develop a “new'' normal routine which is fitting for this time without stressing about things returning to the normal before the pandemic. In that way, you will be much kinder yourself and aim for more nourishment and fewer restrictions.
Plan your meals
Meal planning also helps us improve our eating behaviors. Plan all meals, know what you intend to eat at breakfast, lunch, and supper. In that way, you will make nourishing foods available in the house.
There are trigger foods, which once eaten can cause you to feel guilty. It is best to plan your meals to avoid such situations of guilt and be prepared for hunger and boredom better.
Sleep and light
Getting quality of sleep is important and distractions such as spending time on your phone or laptop at night can affect the quality of sleep. It is important to allocate time and switch off distractions and reflect on the day in any way you prefer especially if you are recovering from previous eating disorders. Sleep helps us maintain a good balance of appetite hormones.
When appetite hormones are not regulated well, this can cause overeating because of increased appetite but sometimes even a complete lack of appetite. Winter is approaching and this also presents “winter blues”, which are normally because of a reduction in serotonin (the feel-good hormone).
This phenomenon is also observed when we spend a lot of time indoors which is what we have been doing during this time of pandemic countrywide lockdown. Spending some time in the sunlight helps with moods, as the sun increases the brain’s ability to produce serotonin.
Dealing with triggers
It is important to develop an awareness of your triggers. Everyone is different, you can be triggered by a host of things such as the sight of certain foods, words, people around you, and social media. The growing diet culture and constant reference to people’s outlooks these days are also not helping in cultivating healthy relationships with food.
The first step to dealing with triggers is to know them, in that way you can come up with sustainable healthy ways of dealing with your triggers. The use of negative words and language towards certain foods can subconsciously foster an unhealthy relationship with food for yourself but also those around you.
Be mindful and use kind words towards self but also kind words when talking about the food itself to help cultivate a good relationship with self and food. Amid lockdown pandemic, social media has made everything, and everyone becomes much closer as people spend more time online now. If social media is your eating disorder trigger, pull back, and or unfollow certain accounts that are potential triggers.
During these unprecedented times, there will be bad days and good days. On good days, it is important to celebrate life, and that can help us slowly build a healthy relationship with food.