Tragedy, Stress, and Eating: Nourishing Ourselves in the Midst of it All

By:  Functional Nutritionist, Leann Larson

Social unrest and the COVI19 pandemic can feel heavy. We all feel the weight and the pressure of the world right now. Those feelings have prompted many to take action, demanding social justice and taking care of elderly neighbors due to COVID19 risk. What may be harder to do during this time is taking care of ourselves. Here are some tips for nourishing yourself during stressful times.

It feels selfish to consider yourself at times like these: However, I urge you to consider it a necessary priority. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we will be unable to care for others. It is okay and natural to feel stress. It is also natural to look towards food when we are experiencing this stress. Stress eating is not someone losing will power, it is actually a biological stress and survival response.  The problem is that during stress we look to comfort foods; typically high-fat, highly processed, sugary foods, because they provide quick energy for our bodies. Eating these foods on a regular basis will result in not only unwanted weight gain but will impact the health of our gut, brain and how our bodies function. If left un-managed, stress can lead to continued problems such as anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure and even a weakened immune system. Better understanding stress eating and learning how to best validate and process difficult emotions can help guide us during this time of unrest.

Stress Eating Tips:

Take An Emotional Break:

In the midst of so much uncertainty, give yourself permission to indulge in your favorite treat, just do so in moderation.

Be Present When You Are Eating:

Mindful eating means being fully attentive to your food as you buy, prepare, serve and consume it. Eat without distraction, and chew slowly to properly kick start the digestive process.

Meal Plan:

Studies show that people who plan out their meals eat healthier overall. Start small; Lunch is a great meal to start with. When you are making dinner for the night, make a little bit extra and save for lunches the next few days. 

Avoid One-Size Fits All Diets:

Choose a meal plan that works for you. The truth is there is not a “one-size fits all” meal plan that works best. We all have individual needs. The best meal plan is one that meets your medical and nutritional needs. It has to be affordable, sustainable and enjoyable.

Consider Intermittent Fasting:

This is not right for everyone, for some the thought of intermittent fasting can be stressful and may not be helpful.  For many people however, keeping an eating window to 8-10 hours can be healing, empowering and provide many health benefits for letting your gut reset.

Make Sleep a Priority:

Seek help if you are suffering from sleep problems or insomnia. Try and incorporate a consistent bedtime routine.

Get Active:

It is important to exercise your mind and body. Gyms are beginning to reopen, but streaming a workout video or joining a friend for a social distance hill walk are still great ways to get exercise.