Wellness

Stress eating these days? Here's some help

(CNN)Stress eating is something that many people struggle with on a regular basis, when things are "normal." But with the coronavirus pandemic challenging us in different ways each day, it seems to have become an equal opportunity problem, affecting even those who don't typically eat in response to anxiety or other emotions.

"I think I need to be socially distanced from my refrigerator," said Lisa C., who preferred not to reveal her last name, a now working-from-home legal executive who added that "going down the stairs for food and back up again is my only exercise these days."
Lisa C. is not the only one who has shared her stress-eating sentiments with me.
    "I think I've snacked all day long for the last 10 days," said Liliana Fazendeiro, who has been at home with her 2-and-half-year old son since his daycare closed.
      "While being homebound during these last two weeks I've noticed I've been self-soothing by grabbing a little sweet here and there and having a second helping of dinner," said Natalie Santos Ferguson of Baltimore, Maryland.
        "Plus, all the homebound extra baking we're doing is not helping. As a mother, I don't want to let my children see how worried I have actually been, so rather than letting my emotions out, I'm grabbing the nearest treat to make myself feel good," Ferguson added.
        While many often eat in response to stressful situations, others lose their appetite during such life events. But for those who typically engage in stress eating, being stuck at home makes the challenge of avoiding indulgences all the more difficult.
          "For people who were stress eaters but may have been in the office all day doing stressful work, it may have been a relief to come home and eat a lot of food that may not be healthy for them. But now they have access to that [food] all day long," said registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of "Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table."

          How to manage stress eating

          Whether it's your first time struggling with stress eating, or it's gotten increasingly more frequent, we want you to know that there are ways to manage it. And here's some more good news: It doesn't necessarily require cutting out your favorite treats.
          Here are some tips for managing stress-eating:
          Control triggers. First and foremost, if you find yourself eating in response to stress, it's a good idea to become acutely aware of what heightens your stress and them come up with a plan, advised Martha McKittrick RD, a registered dietitian in New York City.
          Whether it's watching the news or talking with a friend or family member who irritates you, it's important to find a way to help minimize triggers. "Maybe it's watching less of the news or tell your friend you only have five minutes to talk," McKittrick advised.
          If you're not sure what your triggers are, a food journal can help to reveal your stress eating patterns, explained Carolyn O'Neil, a registered dietitian and author of "The Slim Down South Cookbook." "Include what you're eating, when, how much, where you sat or stood and with whom," O'Neil said.
          Don't deny yourself your favorite comfort foods. </