As the nation adapts to life in the closure of the coronavirus, people across the country are forced to establish new daily routines.
Health and diet are proving particularly difficult to manage as our regular training regimes are interrupted and millions of us work from home with constant access to our kitchens and care inside.
Thousands of workers have gone to social media to reveal that they are snacking more than ever and are ‘grazing’ during the day, now that the structure of the working day has been messed up.
This could potentially fatten millions of people across the UK, which is of particular concern for the current climate as obesity is recognized as a key risk factor for COVID-19. An increase in obesity also poses a long-term threat to the NHS.
Speaking with FEMAIL, two UK-based nutritionists explained that this apparent need to eat constantly is triggered by feelings of boredom, panic and anxiety caused by the fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and government-changing measures. to stop the spread.
Tamara Willner, a nutritionist from Second Nature, a food plan supported by the NHS, and Jenny Tschiesche, a nutrition expert known as The Lunchbox Doctor, shared their advice on how to recognize, deal with and manage the long-term diet.
Thousands of workers have gone to social media to reveal that they are snacking more than ever and are ‘grazing’ during the day, now that the structure of the working day has been messed up. Nutritionists reveal how to regain control of food. Stock image
WHY ARE WE MORE SNACKING?
Tamara explained: “Between stress on uncertainty, work from home and reduced social interaction, emotional food could be particularly popular in the coming weeks.
Emotional consumption occurs when food is used to soothe or suppress negative emotions such as isolation, anger, boredom or stress.
‘Often comfort or emotional eating ignores the feelings of physical hunger that come from an empty stomach. The most common craved foods are usually ultra processed, such as biscuits, chips, chocolate and ice cream. These foods are scientifically designed to quickly target the pleasure receptors in our brain.
‘Most of us experience emotional food at one time or another. However, when emotional consumption occurs frequently and food becomes the main mechanism for coping with a stressful situation, it can affect our health and mental well-being. This emotional eating may be more likely when we isolate ourselves. ‘
How snacks are designed to be impossible to resist
The block snack probably involves delicacies like cakes, biscuits, chocolate and chips, rather than healthy options that we know are “best” for us. And we can find “space” to eat these, even when we are full.
This is because our taste system can be fooled when salt, fat and sugar are carefully combined in quantities measured by experts to be “right”, according to a post on the Second Nature blog.
At this point, we keep coming back more because we continue to enjoy it, even when we should stop.
Howard Moskowitz, an American market researcher known for creating compelling flavor combinations that fly off the shelves, coined this as a “happiness point” – the exact measurements of fat, sugar and salt that make our taste buds tingle and nullify the natural brain “stop signs.
This happiness point plays a significant role in why we crave certain addictive foods, such as ice cream and chips. Even in the most strong-willed individuals, these cravings may seem impossible to resist.
Jenny said: ‘During this time when those with compromised immunity are completely home related and those who are not limited to one form of exercise per day many of us will experience cravings or pangs for the food we don’t need.
‘For many, hunger for food is actually a need to bridge the boredom gap or a need for some form of distraction. Also, the lack of daylight most likely means a lack of vitamin D and that associated with stress right now means that we tend to want to eat sweet foods as a quick fix for low mood and low blood sugar levels. “
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SPEND LESS?
Tamara outlined a four-step plan that anyone can follow to end their emotional eating during the blockade.
Know your trigger
Keeping a food diary of what we eat, how much we eat and what we feel when we eat can help us identify what causes comfort in eating. For some people, it is boredom, while for others it is stress, anxiety or sadness.
Find a new outlet for the excitement
Once we know what triggers our emotional eating, we can find other simple activities at home to manage them without food.
The best tasks to do to divert our mind from food are those with cognitive difficulties. This means that taking a walk, meditating or taking a bath may not be an effective way to distract us. However, something involving your brain can be a better distractor, like sudoku puzzle, crossword puzzle, brain training app, chess or doodle, calling a friend, playing a board game, listening to a podcast.
A food diary can help you discover the emotional triggers that drive us to snack. The science behind junk food means that we are more likely to look for chocolate than salad. Stock image
To be prepared
We can prepare for when we feel compelled to eat emotionally by writing down some “if / then” scenarios. For example:
Three quick habits to help cut down on snacks
Sana Khan, founder of Avicenna Wellbeing, offered more practical advice on how to minimize snacks
- Keep snacks in the kitchen rather than on the desk
- Just take out what you need. For example, if you are having a snack with oat cakes, put some on a plate, rather than taking the whole package
- Chew, chew, chew. Chewing improves digestion and increases satiety, which means that you feel full and less likely to choose a snack. Adding a herbal tea to your snacks can also be helpful in limiting the snack
- “If I am bored and feel the urge to buy unhealthy snacks, then I will do a crossword puzzle for 10 minutes”
- “If I feel lonely and start craving chips or chocolate, I’ll call my friend for a quick chat”
- “If I feel anxious and overwhelmed, I will stop and read my book for 10 minutes.”
We can also prepare our environment, avoiding having large quantities of ultra processed foods (for example chips, biscuits, ice cream, chocolate) at home.
Instead, buying healthier whole foods for a snack means that we are less likely to overeat and will make us feel more satisfied.
Take the blame away
It is important not to have guilt feelings when we experience an episode of emotional feeding. One way to do this is to avoid labeling foods as “good”, “bad”, “treatment” or “syn”.
This can promote a negative relationship with food and create a continuous cycle of food comfort. Instead, we can classify foods as foods that we like every day and foods that we like less often.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT
Jenny said it’s important to try to stick to normal meal times and to eat dishes full of healthy, fulfilling and nutritious ingredients.
He said: ‘Try to focus your meals on good quality proteins like canned fish, eggs (if you can find them), tofu, legumes and lots of fresh or frozen vegetables or cans if needed. These protein meals will keep you full longer.
In addition, there are particular foods that can help increase happy serotonin hormone levels, such as fish, nuts, dark green vegetables, seeds, oats, yogurt, eggs and poultry. Try to make sure you eat these foods regularly too. ”
Tips for snacks
Unsweetened peanut butter
High quality dark chocolate (85% +)
Simple Ryvita crackers
Make sure you have them on your online shopping list to add to your meals, Jenny suggested.
Vegetables (fresh and canned are fine)