Our lives have changed in seismic ways and it’s all happening incredibly fast since the Coronavirus slapped mankind in the face. This is a lot to deal with and many of us have been left reeling in panic, but it doesn’t have to be this way, read on to find out how to manage food and eating during a pandemic.
Many of us feel out of control, confused and scared, and this has a major impact on our behavior, mood and thought patterns. Many people have started stockpiling food and toiletries, leaving grocery store shelves bare, and even more, people have been stress eating to manage their emotions during the pandemic.
The coronavirus has triggered a sort of survival mode for many people, where we need to ‘stock-up’ on essentials (including toilet paper), in part due to many officials advising to keep at least 2 weeks ‘worth of food, toiletries, and medical supplies on hand. Since most people don’t because we’re so used to being able to access stores almost 24/7, people freak out and take this to extremes.
They’re doing it so I’ll do it too.
Panic buying perpetuates panic buying. People are social beings, and we often model our behavior on others around us, especially when it comes to fear – it’s very contagious. Photos of empty shelves and misinformation on social media can cause others to rush out and grab what they can, causing perceived scarcity to become an actual scarcity. It’s a vicious cycle.
When stocking up on groceries, limit waste and be considerate. Planning 1-2 weeks ahead with meal plans and grocery lists is all you need right now. Buying in bulk will only lead to food spoiling before you can eat it, and hoarding products that others may also need.
By focusing on what you will realistically eat and use, you can shop and prepare meals in a calm and rational way that will help flatten the panic-buying curve.
If you would like more ideas and tips on food planning and staying healthy, download my free guidebook here.
It’s OK to feel anxious
When we’re faced with a lack of food or even the possibility of food shortage, our mind freaks out. We feel deprived like it’s our last supper, so your brain goes, “Eat everything now!”. It’s the same type of response if you’ve ever been on a restrictive diet. Your body is trying to keep you alive and, in the process, wants to overcompensate and we end up binge-eating or overeating. That deprivation, coupled with anxiety and stress eating, can quickly throw our health and weight into the unhealthy zone.
The Live-For-Now Mindset
When exposed to information about the health and economic crisis we’re currently facing owing to the coronavirus pandemic, this can trigger a live-for-now mindset, rather than rationally focusing on the future, and that can become very shortsighted when it comes to your eating behavior.
In fact, this was actually tested by two professors at the University of Miami, using M&M’s and their students. Half the group were given a bowl of candy and then were also sent a text message that emphasized hard times and deprivation with words like survival and shortfall., while the control group had the same bowl of candy but read a text with neutral words. As expected, the fear-monger group ate more candy than the control group – they were responding to their perceived world of deprivation by eating more calories to compensate.
When it comes to your eating, this scarcity mindset can lead to (or keep you stuck in) a diet-binge cycle or eating for emotional reasons. The simple truth is no amount of gorging or storing of food can quash your anxiety of fear – you have to tackle that head on rather than hide your head in a bowl of pasta. It’s a recipe for disaster if you don’t recognize it and get a handle on it.