Covid-19 Related Food Anxiety

We – as a culture, city, nation, and world – are living in unprecedented and scary times. Everywhere we look, we are faced with new and confusing information. We are feeling scared and uncertain about many things, and most of us are probably really worried about health and finances. This is also a lonely time, as we practice social distancing and attempt to stay connected solely through virtual means. By this point, we have probably been told that that the anxiety we feel is normal.

For many people who struggled or continue to struggle with body image, disordered eating, or a generally difficult relationship with food, social distancing has likely added an extra layer of stress. With extended periods of time at home, you may be eating food that you’re not used to, or eating more food than usual. Maybe you find yourself anxious, stressed, or bored, and reaching for food for comfort. Perhaps this situation feels so out-of-control that controlling your food intake feels like the only thing you have power over. Or perhaps with closed gyms and less movement in general, you are feeling anxious about your body and the changes it may experience. This all, too, is normal, and many people around the world are experiencing similar feelings about food and their bodies.

The good news is that there ARE things you can do to nurture yourself and your body during these trying times. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Try to develop and stick to a consistent schedule. Set a wake up time that is reasonably consistent every day, and follow your usual morning routine. Try to maintain a schedule that is similar to your “normal” one, including work, breaks, mealtimes, etc.
  • Stay active! Go for a walk, jog, or bike ride (while maintaining  proper physical distance of course). There are also many free yoga and workout videos available on YouTube. While this may not feel the same as an intense hour in the gym, try to appreciate this as a time to nurture your body – or to try a new workout!
  • Stay connected. Reach out to friends, family, or anybody you feel comfortable talking with.
  • Try to do something productive and fun. Read a book, take up a new hobby, learn a language, anything that gives you a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment!
  • Try to think of food as nourishment, as fuel, rather than in “bad” or “good” terms. Often this “black and white” thinking, as well as restriction, can set us up for overeating.
  • Think of some soothing things you can do when you are feeling bored, anxious, or lonely – journaling, taking a bath, calling a friend, meditation, or lighting a favorite candle are just some ideas.
  • Most importantly, be kind and patient with yourself and your body! There will be tough days. There will be times when you feel down on yourself and your body. Try and thank your body for three things it did for you each day.