With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe, millions of people have little choice but to stay home and self-isolate. It’s challenging not to go out and live your life as you should, but safety during these times is of the utmost importance.

That said, being stuck at home can be stressful and may lead to stress eating. People who are emotionally vulnerable may turn to food to cope with their feelings, and this may lead to overeating.

Overeating, in turn, may lead to many health problems including bloating, obesity, and eating disorders like Bulimia nervosa, a condition that affects approximately 100,000 Australians.

In this post, we look at how you can avoid stress eating while you’re at home.

Understand what you are feeling

When you’re stuck at home, feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety may cause some people to turn to food to manage their emotions.

To avoid overeating, try to determine whether you are eating food because you are hungry or if something else is influencing your eating habits. Every time you feel like you want to eat, especially if you are not hungry, try to understand the emotions you’re feeling at that moment.

Once you have discovered which emotions are triggering your eating habits, try to find other activities that can help you manage these feelings.

Keep high-calorie food out of sight

People may get cravings for food items like snacks and candies just by looking at them, even if they’re not hungry.

When you’re stuck at home, you may spend a lot of time around these snacks, and you might find it hard to control yourself. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that seeing high-calorie food can stimulate our brain, which may make you crave certain types of food, leading to overeating.

As far as possible, try keeping your food in your kitchen cupboards or refrigerator, and do not leave any food or snacks in places where you can see them constantly.

Drink plenty of fluids

Not drinking enough liquids has also been linked to stress eating. Your body tends to become dehydrated if you don’t drink adequate amounts of water and this can also affect your mood, leading to overeating.

It’s always important to drink water, even if you’re not feeling particularly thirsty. On average, adult men and women should drink at least 2.6L and 2.1L of water a day, respectively. That said, this can change based on your age and physique.

Exercise and stay fit

When you’re stuck at home, you may have a lot of time to yourself.

Exercising will give you something to focus on when you’re stuck at home for long periods. Studies also show that exercise acts as a mood booster and may help you keep emotions that make you crave food at bay.

Make yourself a daily exercise plan and set yourself workout goals. Whenever you feel peckish, try doing short, easy exercises, like stretching or even breathing exercises.

Focus on your eating

Being at home for days on end can lead to extreme boredom. Fortunately, there are many ways to counteract this boredom, like scrolling through our smartphones, Netflix, books and video games.

It’s also common for people to snack while partaking in these activities. If you eat while watching a movie, for example, it’s easy to lose track of how much you eat. As a result, you may end up overeating without realising it because your attention will be on something else, and not on eating. If you want to have a snack while you’re doing another activity, what you can do is avoid eating directly out of the container or a packet. Try and control your portion sizes.

Manage stress eating while you’re at home

Staying at home for days on end can cause stress and anxiety and lead to overeating. If you aren’t sure about how you can control your eating habits, get in touch with a medical professional to create a healthy diet plan or for any other kind of health support you need.

Author biography of Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah

Dr Suhirdan leads the team at Sydney Gut Clinic, bringing a combination of experience, excellence, and dedication. He is a highly trained Interventional Gastroenterologist, which means he has additional training that allows him to perform more complex procedures that others may have to refer out; improving the outcome for patients.
Dr Suhirdan is also an Associate at the prestigious Diagnostic Endoscopy Centre in St. Vincent’s Clinic, with admitting rights in St. Vincent’s Private, Darlinghurst, is a VMO at Centre for Digestive Diseases and Consultant at Sydney Specialist Suites – and with past experience at Liverpool Hospital and the Institute of Advanced Endoscopy.
Educated at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Dr Suhirdan has accessed the best of research and educational facilities in perfecting his skill and practice. He has also conducted extensive research and written papers on a variety of subjects.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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