Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many people have resorted to different activities to spend their time at home including reading, working out, and many more. Out of all these activities, the most common one happens to be cooking. While eating home-cooked meals is always healthier and recommended, quarantine cooking can be quite the opposite, according to health experts since its encouraging stress eating.
Melanie Brede, who is a dietician at the University of Virginia’s Department of Student Health, states that eating patterns and diets of the majority have changed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of factors come into play while looking out how people are eating differently than before.
For example, food availability is a major contributor to the change. At the starting of the outbreak, many people generally avoided making a lot of trips to the grocery stores and generally relied on stocking food. During the three months lockdown, the demand for certain foods including all-purpose flour increased as many more people were baking than before. Additionally, many of the foods even disappeared from most grocery stores.
Hence, a large number of people, including those from all age groups, were consuming not only unhealthy foods but eating a lot more in general. More cooking and baking meant more food was available at home and since most of the time was spend at home, people consumed a lot more calories than they did before.
Another factor that plays a big part here is levels of stress. The increase in food, and specifically, unhealthy food consumption is not only due to more cooking and time spent at home. The rise in uncertainties and anxieties about the future is a major contributor that has encouraged the vast majority to resort to stress eating during the pandemic.
For instance, the fear of unemployment and economic uncertainty was one of the biggest causes of the rise in anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. To cope up with the mental stress of the pandemic and its effect on the world, many people ended up eating mindlessly. This change in eating patterns is certainly unhealthy.
Stress eating or eating mindlessly is known to be harmful to health as it can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can, in turn, increase the risk of health conditions in the future such as metabolic disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
In addition, for people who have a limited food supply and may have food security issues, it can be particularly harmful and lead to financial issues in the future. It is best to safe and cooks smartly especially during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. So, what can be done to stop stress eating during the health crisis?
According to most health experts, high-stress levels can be easily managed by talking to people. Social isolation and being disconnected from people are two of the main causes of depression and stress especially right now. Staying in touch with family and friends and expressing feelings can make a big difference.
Just like anger and happiness, fear about the future or regarding any aspect of life is an emotion that can be shared with a trusted friend. Therefore, sharing emotions and fears can be particularly helpful. Remember, it is better to talk it out rather than eating the feelings away.