EP 13 – Eat This: Self Isolation, Eating and Snacking

We are in an intense time of uncertainty, fear and worry and it’s worldwide. How are you? This isn’t easy an easy time to be in with all the change from the normal day of getting up, going to work and coming home. Kids being home all day and family members all around you without much space is likely grating on your nerves left, right and centre. So many emotions to navigate: loneliness, sadness, anger, isolation, overthinking, anxiety, aggression, insecurity, and the big one, FEAR.

For so many, this is the perfect time to self soothe your stress away like a Calgon bubble bath, but with food. If you’re prone to emotional or stress eating on a fairly normal day compared to now, I feel for you and know that if there was ever was a time to work on self-compassion, it’s right now.

Let’s get into it, knowing that I focus on one mouthful at a time in my nutrition practice, when I’m talking on TV and radio and of course on this podcast, and now is no different. In fact, it’s time to focus on that more than ever.

You’ll notice that this episode sounds different… Well, that’s because Chris and I aren’t in the studio, we are in our respective homes working with what we’ve got. I’m here in my closet for the best sound possible, and as far away from my daughters and dog as I can get. We are making it work, just like you, and while this episode won’t have the usual production excellence that Chris adds in his studio, we are here for you getting this out so we can stay connected and safe.

So even in this time of super stress… Listen up and EAT THIS…

Whether it was before the new Coronavirus hit the globe or not, you may find your new default could be emotional eating, and while you might have had a snack or two a day before being in self-isolation at home, working from home or physically distancing from others, many who I’ve spoken to are up to 10 snacks, and that’s before lunch!

I read a Tweet from Arlene Dickinson, a super successful Canadian businesswoman, and she Tweeted that she’d eaten all her day’s calories, and it’s 10 am. I know she’s not alone.

With the new phrase of COVID-15 already speculating that we’re going to come out of this with a plus 15 pounds on the scale, know that depending on your level of lifestyle change, this doesn’t have to be your new normal.

Sadly, the answer to your stress, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and fear isn’t in the fridge or freeze, because I know you look for it at the bottom of the ice cream container, chip bag or cookie jar. Believe me, I wish it were.

The emotional eating that we are all engaging in right now begs the question of WHY? Not to turn yourself inside out with beating up on yourself or shame, but asking yourself those three letters as you head back to the kitchen for yet another snack, maybe the start of a mindset shift where you can pivot from food to something else to self soothe.

I’ve heard it many times – people are BORED. Under that, there’s fear and the unknown. All those emotions I mentioned earlier like lonely, alone, sad, overthinking, over-analyzing, anxious, uncertain, anger, and insecurity, but I think that the loneliness and feeling of disconnect is huge. Ever notice that eating can be totally mindless? I know you’re looking for comfort and answers that no one has for us right now, we’ve gotta realize that the comfort and connection we are looking for is not going to come from yet another snack.

Emotional eating doesn’t usually look like a big fat salad or hummus and sugar snap peas, no… It’s usually a white, refined, ultra-processed, sugar-laden, or even a salty, deep-fried something like chips. I know you know this, but I’m going to say it anyway… These foods have a knock-on effect to your overall health that’s not good, and for the sake of your immunity, your mental health, your sleep, and how you feel about yourself, let’s see what we can do about injecting some healthy eating here.

Know that high-fat, high-sugar foods release dopamine in the brain, aka it lights up the reward center or the feel-good part of the brain, so that’s why you want them. But there are other ways to feel good.

  • How about you move your body. Go for a walk, try an online yoga or exercise class – exercise is one of the best stress-busters out there.
  • Meditation and journalling often help to ease the intensity of emotions but done proactively rather than hoping for relief at that moment that you’re feeling like you’re losing it.

If that doesn’t do it for you, I get it. For some, the best tasks to take our mind off food are cognitively challenging ones as opposed to walking, meditation, or having a warm bubble bath. How about something that engages your brain like Sudoku puzzles, crosswords, brain training apps, chess or scrabble, calling a friend, playing a board game, or listening to a podcast or audiobook.

Then there are other people who, like me, under eat. Under major stress, my appetite goes out the window. I didn’t make myself that way, it just is. Don’t hate me for it, I have to think about eating when I’m stressed and there are others out there who are the same.

Ok, so how are we all going to get through this no matter what you’re like?

  1. Establish new daily routines and stick to regular mealtimes.
  2. There need to be meals that are packed with healthy, fulfilling and nutritious ingredients no matter what it is. I know you can find something. For some inspiration, every day I’ve been doing a live video on Sprout Right’s Facebook and Instagram pages and I show you how to cook a fast and easy recipe from my book Sprout Right Family Food. Each video is seriously under 30 minutes and presto, you’ve got dinner or a snack, and usually leftovers.
  3. I want you to include good quality proteins like tinned fish – I made yummy Salmon Cakes as one of the easy meals on my first live video. How about some eggs (if you can find some)? My daughter ate about 4 yesterday. If you can find it, tofu, add some legumes to a big pot of soup or a rice dish, and lots of vegetables, either fresh or frozen. Seriously, protein-based meals help keep you fuller for longer.

There are particular foods that can help boost the levels of the happy hormone serotonin, such as fish, nuts, dark green vegetables, seeds, oats, yogurt, eggs, and poultry. See what you can do to ensure these foods are part of each day or meal. I’ve got my chocolate chip recipe lined up to cook on another live video and they are made with oats! How’s that for a win-win recipe?

Speaking of recipes, if you’re on social media a lot and hang out on Twitter, resist the urge to join the #TheGreatQuarantineBakeOff unless you submit my recipe!

If you’re really struggling with the snacking, I’m going to suggest distraction, distraction, distraction.

Let’s make some agreements if that helps keep you accountable

  • If you feel bored and feel the urge to have an unhealthy snack, then go do a crossword puzzle for 10 minutes.
  • If you feel lonely and start craving chips or chocolate, then go call a friend for a quick chat.
  • If you feel anxious and overwhelmed, then pause and go read a book for 10 minutes.

Can you commit to that or at least give it a go? I want to hear how you are. I want to know what you need and how I can help. Hop over to any of my social media channels and leave a comment on Lianne Phillipson Facebook or Instagram or Sprout Right’s YouTube channel, Instagram or Facebook pages – and while you’re there check out my #cooktogether videos. You’ll find all my immune-supportive supplements on SproutRight.com and can send a message through either of my websites. Please know that I’m here to support you in any way that I can. Just reach out – say hi, tell me how you are or ask me a question. I’ll answer, I promise.

This will pass and we will all find our new normal, and as things change, Chris and I will keep recording episodes, no matter how they sound so we can stay connected.

As always, EAT THIS one mouthful at a time.

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