There are scientific studies by Psychologists which say that our emotions play a crucial role in our food intake habits. Repeatedly our focus goes to sweets, high calorie food, high carbohydrate food and we go into sinful eating. During lock down when the days and nights are structured people are reporting getting into unhealthy eating due to boredom and stress. People need to engage in eating healthy food because a vicious cycle may start where in first they eat unhealthy food and then feel guilty and then again eat unhealthy food.
It may be tempting to ease your anxiety with your favourite foods, but emotional eating can hurt you physically and mentally.
Monitor yourself for eating healthy food
Monitor yourself for eating healthy food: assess and evaluate responses to eating choices.It is recommended that you assess what you are eating during the day and night and what kind of food you are taking. This will increase your awareness about the food that your are eating.
Differentiate between body’s (physical) hunger signals and emotional hunger signals
Physical hunger means that you eat when your body signals that its hunger, where emotional hunger means that while experiencing different emotions (sadness, anxiety, happiness etc) you turn to food. Emotional hunger is sudden and physical hunger is gradual.
Practice mindful eating
Practice mindful eating which means that you are focusing on what you are eating, ingredients, texture, taste, aroma of the food etc. Mindful eating will make you aware of the food or drinks that you are putting in your body. Mindful eating will help you eat slowly and experience the food. This will help you differentiate between healthy and unhealthy food. Keep your phone aside when you are having your meals. The regular practice of mindful eating will help you to avoid weight gain.
Time restricted’ eating
Eat within an 8-12 hour window. This will help you eat less and planning a meal. Also with this night binging gets reduced, as you are restricted to a particular time for eating.
Set a structure to your day and follow it
As we all are well aware that boredom and stress can lead to sinful eating instead of eating healthy. We need to have a structured schedule that includes time for work, relaxation/exercise, physical exercise, learning new things, doing puzzles, playing indoor games and communication with others
Plan eating healthy meals and snacks at the start of each day or a night before
Planning meals and snacks in advance makes a person more aware about his or her choices. Research has shown that when we plan a meal we choose healthy nutrients for ourselves and this also avoids weight gain.
Choose one place in your home as the only place where you will eat
Decide for yourself that there will be only one place for eating, this will help you avoid eating on bed or on work table and become more disciplined
Take Breakfast, lunch & dinner at same time each day
Designate same time each day for all meals. This will keep you prepared and you will start to value each meal and respect yourself for the same.
Find other ways to manage stress
Deep breathing and engaging in pleasurable activities and increasing social support network will help you manage stress and anxiety I a healthy and effective manner.
Engage in stretching & physical exercise
You needs to engage in at least one hour of physical exercise each day to feel good, motivated and brings positivity. Stretching and exercise is essential for physical and mental fitness. Physical activity helps to maintain or reduce the weight of an individual.
Drinking water makes one feel fresh and hydrated. When a person feels hungry, his/her first impulse is to find the food. But it may just be a body need to be hydrated. Drinking water gives a feeling of being full which may lead to engaging in healthy eating.
Avoid caffeine, smoking and alcohol
Anything in excess is bad and has an impact on our physical and mental health. Moderation is the key. Avoid caffeine in the evening. Smoking and alcohol do more harm than we can think of, so think before you plan to smoke or drink.
Lightest & light Dinner
Dinner should be the lightest meal and take dinner minimum 2 hours before you go to bed, as this helps in digestion of food and for the body to absorb nutrients. Also our body dynamic says that when we are active we need more energy and vice-versa.
It is necessary that at this time everyone keeps their immunity intact and focus on eating healthy. As per Clinical Psychologist Ms. Deepali Batra, this will help everyone handle the stress, boredom and anxiety efficiently and eating healthy wood will make one feel more positive towards oneself.