Many of us are dealing with new and uncomfortable situations right now. Financial insecurity, housing and food insecurity. Many of us have more time on our hands than we’ve had in years. Many of us are spending more time at home base than we are accustomed to. Some of us are dealing with illness or the fear of illness. All of us have had our lives upended to some extent by the invasion of this coronavirus.
These are challenging times. And what do challenging times frequently call for? For many of us, the answer is food. Anxiety and stress cause many of us to overeat. Uncertainty can bring out the snack tooth. Boredom and procrastination can feed our “need” for snacks. And not usually snacks of the carrot and celery variety—especially when we are limited by funds or access.
As much as things may change around us, we can always count on food, can’t we? Our bodies need it. Our survival depends upon it. Any possibility that it might disappear can create an unconscious drive to consume it.
All of it.
We are not, of course, helpless—although at times it can feel that way. While we know we really don’t need the whole bag of chips or container of ice cream…oh, it’s almost gone anyway…we may feel powerless over our ability to stop.
What’s a person to do?
First, have a glass of water! Still water, or try a glass of bubbly water with a splash of lemon or lime and some stevia. Frequently we just need some good old-fashioned hydration.
If that doesn’t do it…
Before it happens, as in right now, make a list and post it on the fridge or on the pantry—or both—of things you like to do; things to do instead of eating.
My list looks something like this:
· Walk a lap around the house (inside or out, but probably in!)
· Stop, breathe, close my eyes, loosen my jaw and shoulders; check in with my Higher Self. (This one is super important for me as I frequently end up as more of a human Doing than a human Being.)
· Find someone to chat with, either by phone or in person (I am quarantined with 4 people and 4 animals; I am grateful to have lots of choices)
· Set a timer for a few minutes of social media (the timer is key!)
That’s me. Your list might include singing, knitting, reading, drawing, jumping jacks, chair exercises, planning a game night with friends and family via Zoom; the sky is the limit…as long as we keep it six feet away, of course.
NEXT TACTIC, when the inevitable snack-calling does come, we can HALT and ask ourselves if we are:
ANGRY (or responding to another feeling)
Take a pause to reflect and, if you’re not actually hungry, step over to your list of activities and try one. Distract yourself with something which nurtures your spirit and know that it generally takes only 5 minutes for a particular craving to disappear.
Not sure if you’re hungry? How does steamed whitefish and overcooked broccoli—with no seasoning at all—sound?! How about uncooked tofu?! If you’ll eat that—you’re likely hungry!
Still want a snack?
Here’s a rubric to keep in mind—with the aptly chosen acronym SNACK. It is inspired by a post Dr. Susan Albers wrote recently in Psychology Today.
S—SLOW DOWN: What am I really hungry for? Food? Companionship?
N—NOTICE: What is my hunger level? 1 = not hungry at all, in fact, I’m full! To a 10 = ravenous, I’ll eat a piece of cardboard! (Feeling hypoglycemic—shaky, irritable, light-headed, low blood sugar—counts even if you don’t actually feel hunger.)
A—ASK: What are my options? Look at the list of activities, and try one to see if the hunger is real. Then name three pantry/fridge possibilities. What can I eat? Make a conscious choice. No guilt required.
C—CHOOSE THOUGHTFULLY: Will this meet my needs? Would I invite [insert name of someone you respect the heck out of] to join me? And how much of it do I really need? Listen to your body as carefully as you would a beloved child.
K—be KIND: Am I being good to my body? Am I caring for this temple so I am ready to live my potential? What will I think about this snack tomorrow?
To sum up, try this if you’re feeling snack-ish and don’t really want to eat:
· Activity list
· Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?
· Slow down; Notice; Ask; Choose thoughtfully; be Kind
May these words support you in supporting your health and wellness during this extraordinary time.
Written with so much love and appreciation for each one of you,
PS If you are seeking healthy snack ideas, check out this recipe for avocado egg salad. Something different to try!
Avocado Egg Salad
inspired by https://ultimatepaleoguide.com/avocado-egg-salad/