How to stop stress eating during lockdown

Some of us may be struggling with maintaining healthy eating habits in your home during lockdown. Many of us turn to food as a coping mechanism during stressful times, which can result in binge eating, comfort eating and overeating which, more often than not, is on unhealthy and undesirable foods.

 

A few tips to help you maintain healthy habits during your time at home:

  1. Routine

Having a routine in place will help you stay on track and feel in control. This starts with a daily hygiene routine of getting washed and dressed, making your bed and having set times for work and leisure activities such as watching TV.

  1. Make time for exercise

Allocate a specific time of your day for 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise. This can be, for example, walking in your garden to get some fresh air or home-based exercises that you can do without any equipment. Involve the whole family with the exercise routine or encourage a friend to do a 21-day exercise challenge with you.

Woman working out at home during lockdown

  1. Plan your meals

The best way to avoid numerous trips to the grocery store (which is what we want to avoid) is to plan your meals. Make a list of all the foods in your pantry and plan your meals from there. Start with the fresh ingredients that will go off first, and then plan meals with your frozen foods once you have used up your fresh ingredients.

  1. Freeze fruit that is going to go off

Cut up fruit and freeze it in zip lock bags so that you can still use it for a fruit smoothie at another time to prevent food wastage or spoilage.

  1. Make set mealtimes

Having set mealtimes will prevent you from opening the fridge every few minutes to eat unnecessarily. This also includes having set snack times as you would if you were at the office to prevent grazing throughout the day.

  1. Choose healthy snacks

Snack on food such as fruit, raw vegetables, homemade popcorn, unsalted nuts and cottage cheese, and try not to snack on empty calorie foods such as chips, chocolates and sweets.

Variety of fresh spices in plates on counter

  1. Make your food tasty

Keep your lockdown meals exciting with natural flavourants such as fresh herbs, plain spices, garlic, ginger, onion, pepper, wine, and turmeric for example.

  1. Be mindful about your eating

Try and recognise when you are eating due to stress, boredom or other emotions, and rather look for positive ways of dealing with those emotions such as exercise, meditation, or yoga, for example.

  1. Keep a food diary/food record

If you are someone who struggles with self-discipline in the kitchen, keeping a food diary can help keep you in check. Write down everything you are eating and drinking daily to be more aware of what you are putting into your body.

Food diary with measuring tape and pen

  1. Monitor your progress

If you are currently on a weight-loss journey, it may help to weigh yourself once a week on your bathroom scale. This helps keep you in check and can help you to stay motivated to reach your personal goals

  1. Make bulk meals

Make extra meals to take the pressure off meal prepping the whole time you are at home. This makes lunches easier if you have packed dinner from the night before and pre-portioned it out for lunches.

  1. Keep treats in moderation

Allow yourself a nice sweet treat/dessert in moderation. Avoid high sugary foods on a daily basis.

Child drinking glass of water in kitchen

  1. Drink plenty of water and limit caffeine

Keep well hydrated with plenty of water while drinking caffeine in moderation. Place a big jug of water on your desk to remind you to drink while working.

If you’re still struggling to feel motivated and healthy during this stressful time, book a virtual consultation with a dietitian.

Kelly Ansley, registered dietitian
Kelly is a registered dietitian and owner of Smart Eating Registered Dietitians Kelly is a registered dietitian in private practice. She gained valuable experience in the government and private sector before starting her own practice, ‘Smart Eating’, in 2015. She is currently a guest lecturer to the third-year dietetics students at the University of Pretoria and consults from practices in Houghton and Fourways and Morningside Mediclinic. Since becoming a mom in 2019, Kelly feels passionate about educating and informing other moms on nutrition-related topics and empowering them to provide a healthy balanced diet for the whole family. Kelly understands the stress and pressure that come with being a working mom and she supports her clients and assists them to achieve sustainable health goals. In her private capacity, Kelly enjoys baking, travelling and spending time with family and friends.