News — emotionaleating

Curb the Home Isolation Munchies

Last week we talked about why emotional eating during the COVID-19 outbreak is being experienced by many of us at the moment, especially while we work remotely, socially isolate and juggle ALL the things! 

Maybe you’re working from home, homeschooling (or both!) and your experiencing the lure of the kitchen…the magnetic attraction to the pantry (or wherever you keep your biscuits, chips or other indulgent foods). You might not normally consider yourself an emotional eater, but perhaps the weight of the current situation has caused you to turn to food, or you’re feeling the uncertainty and just want some comfort food! Below are some tips and ideas on how to curb those COVID isolation munchies…

1. Be gentle with yourself

The first thing you need to do is be gentle and kind to yourself. This is an intense time for many of us and it is more than likely that you will look for food for comfort. Accept some comfort food but also know that things won’t go completely back to normal for at least a few more months yet, so remember to stay connected to things that remind you about being healthy (e.g. planning your meals, taking frequent exercise breaks, heading outdoors for fresh air).

 2. Lower your cortisol naturally

The level of anxiety and stress at the moment may be releasing more cortisol (stress hormone) from your system, which over time can do more harm than good (high cortisol is a major driver in weight gain, for example). You can help to relieve your cortisol levels by doing things that produce dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters), for example aerobic exercise, time spent in the sunshine, massage, or even hopping on a zoom call with family/friends to get some love that way. Increase your oxytocin (cuddle hormone) levels by laughing, smiling, even a self-massage on your shoulder and temples.

 3. Do little things that will help you to have better choices

For example:

  • Fill a large bowl with fruit and make it extremely accessible to you, where you can see it in full view. Fill it with fruits that you love of course!
  • Take some time to structure your meal times and food planning. Giving yourself more control over this aspect of your life can help you to experience more food freedom, helping you to let go of guilt and anxiety over food.
  • Take a walk during your work calls – anytime your phone rings, pick it up and head straight outside for a walk around the block.
  • Make sure your freezer is stocked with healthy grab and go foods like frozen fruits and veggies, cauliflower rice, healthy snacks.
  • Have a great breakfast. Did you know that regularly skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain, obesity and diabetes? For a different breakfast idea try a warm meal of beans and greens, with an egg or tofu scramble on the side. The beans will help you to keep satisfied and properly nourished before lunch. No time? We have 7 day breakfast packs available to order with any meal plan. 

Emotional Eating During the Coronavirus Isolation: Why you may be having some extra munchies during this period

We have all experienced times in our life where we have turned to food to provide us with some comfort. Known as ‘emotional eating’, it can take a lot of different forms, from stress eating, to boredom eating, to sad eating. You may be feeling these emotions (plus others, like general uncertainty) to an extra high degree than normal during the current COVID-19 pandemic (which is completely normal, see our last article on ways to keep calm during the COVID-19 pandemic) and it may be causing you to turn to food for comfort and to help take the weight off the current situation.

 But why are we prone to emotional eating during isolation?

Well, first of all, isolation means we are home a lot more, which means we are around food a lot more (without anyone watching). The food in our pantry, in our fridge and freezer, the cake that you may have iso-baked that’s sitting on the counter in full view. If you are now working at home, it’s a big change to suddenly have a kitchen full of food in close proximity to your working space, and can be very distracting! Even if you are not working, not being able to fill your day with activities away from the home means more time spent at home, around food, and this can be very challenging for some people.

Secondly, research shows that comfort foods are in fact comforting to us. For example, a 2006 study published by Physiology & Behavior found that sweet, high calorie comfort foods can provide mood improvements in certain populations. One way they do this is by producing endorphins, which helps to promote feelings of bliss and happiness. But comforting foods that delight our senses and make us feel good don’t have to be only the unhealthy ones, they can also include foods like chilli, bananas, nuts and oranges.

Thirdly, choosing what we want to eat can sometimes give us some control, especially right now when we might be feeling disrupted and without structure to our day. Combined with increased feelings of stress and uncertainty, comfort foods that are high-calorie and low in nutrition (like snacky, junky foods) may be the foods that you are choosing. The message is not about how to avoid those comforting foods, but how you can safely and in a healthy way incorporate some of those foods into your life, without feeling like you need them when you are feeling vulnerable. Plus, who ever said that healthy food can’t be comforting? A slice of cake is nice, but there’s nothing better than a warm bowl of massaman curry with fluffy quinoa and crispy green beans! What are your favourite healthy ‘comfort’ foods or meals? 

Stay tuned next week for some different ways that you can curb those home isolation munchies.



E.L. Gibson. Emotional influences on food choice: sensory, physiological and psychological pathways. Physiol. Behav., 89 (2006), pp. 53-61