Routine with good meal planning prevents emotional eating during COVID-19

by | Jan 29, 2021 | Life

Mindful and intuitive eating approaches are key ways to support overall health and wellbeing during the pandemic, experts say.

Amanda Li, a registered dietitian with Wellness Simplified, said eating is not a means to an end.

Li said if people do not eat a full meal, they would feel like snacking every hour.

“Meal planning, to be present in the moment and relish every bite is super important,” she said.

Li said when minds are mentally distressed, people often end up doing mindless eating.

“My goal is helping you make healthy eating the easier choice,” she said.

Jonathan Wade, a health and fitness trainer with LA Fitness and Goodlife Fitness, said the biggest issue around health is the North American diet, which is a carbohydrate-rich diet that includes rice, bread, pasta, and processed food.

That type of diet coupled with long periods of sitting and a lack of exercise could spell trouble.

Wade said it is important to implement healthy eating habits combined with exercise for well-being, especially during a pandemic.

A study by the College of Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan found that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted university students’ mental and physical health. Staying indoors led to a worsening of eating habits, increased snacking, consuming more high fat and sugary foods, alcohol, while reducing consumption of nutrient-dense food.

The study found poor dietary habits pose a greater risk to mental and physical health.

Registered dietician Chelsea Cross, with MC Dietetics, said an emotional relationship with food should be shunned to avoid stress eating and irrational overeating.

“If you have certain trigger foods in the house readily available all the time and you say no to yourself all the time, that causes a lot of anxiety and just the fact that you’re telling yourself no, eventually you will crave those foods,” Cross said.

She said it is important to stuff the pantry with the basic staples in the house to make meals quickly, to avoid irrational eating.

Cross said choosing to cook more balanced meals at home, as opposed to ordering convenient food, is the way to maintain good health.