Nutrition and pandemic: the relationship with food during the quarantine
Nutrition becomes a strategy for managing our emotions. And since the situation in which we are is putting a strain on many of us, according to different psychologists and psychotherapists, the stress of this period becomes a serious risk for a slatentisation of dysfunctional dynamics with respect to the use of food, or for an accentuation of difficulties and existing ailments.
Advertising message E ‘for several months that everyone’s lives have been overwhelmed by this pandemic; the restrictions to which we are obliged have brought about great changes and had important consequences on people’s moods due to uncertainty and constant concerns; never as in this period is the need to protect the mental health of the population emerging.
This emergency forced us to readjust our daily routine, with many difficulties, which even if it seems to us to be a little outdated considering the first signs of reopening of our country, we are far from actually being out of it. Indeed, surely this new phase will entail a further readjustment, will bring with it still a lot of uncertainty and concern, as well as new possibilities to explore (hopefully positive!).
And in all this, we asked ourselves: “What role has nutrition played and continues to play?”. In fact, food always has an important role in the life of human beings and, especially in this period, it has been the protagonist. Just take a ride on the most important social networks to realize that the “popular wisdom” (in mostly ironic ways) immediately intercepted the link between this situation, the source of new stress and emotional efforts, and the role that food can play (especially in terms of overeating); and in fact, one of the aspects that push us to take it is our emotional state. “Eat to console yourself or to distract you” (Beck J., 2013). This sentence by Judith Beck contains precisely the meaning of what is usually called nervous or emotional hunger: that is, when you eat even if you don’t really need food (to feed yourself), but because of emotional stimuli, in this case, food becomes a strategy for managing our emotions. And since the situation in which we are is putting a strain on many of us, according to different psychologists and psychotherapists, the stress of this period becomes a serious risk for a slatentisation of dysfunctional dynamics with respect to the use of food, or for an accentuation of difficulties and existing ailments.
Often, in our new daily life, we are experiencing negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety and irritability, or again, loneliness, confusion and frustration, we can be afraid of these emotions and feel helpless or vulnerable. In this case, the food takes on the consoling or relief function. You eat to appease an unwanted emotion, to distract yourself from thoughts about job uncertainty or the fear of getting infected, to stop boredom or the frustration of having to stay at home, to suffocate the sense of loneliness or fill the void of certain days. You can go as far as binging, eating and continuing to pinch all day in an automatic way and it is usually done with “high-grade” foods, favorite foods, sweet or savory, or better yet very fatty, because they induce a certain degree of pleasure when we hire them and for a while they make us forget what disturbs us internally. Using food in this way actually prevents us from facing an unwanted difficulty or something because food, as already mentioned, gives us immediate pleasure and is easier to keep under control, for example, when we swing between the binge and repressing us; in that case it is easier to spend mental, emotional and behavioral energies on the control of weight, calories, quantities of food and physical activity to compensate, rather than for example, on the dissatisfaction and job uncertainty that you are experiencing , or about the marital crisis that worsened during the emergency and forced cohabitation, or about feeling unable to manage their children at home,
Advertising message Clearly allowing yourself something more for the sake of tasting it and having a moment of pleasure (precisely because we are experiencing a particular and difficult period) is not in itself wrong or dangerous, on the contrary, but when this becomes a sort of habit , maybe out of control and automatic, then a problem can sneak up. And therefore even in these times it can be useful to begin to reflect on the role that food and emotions are having in our life and to equip ourselves.
Here are some ideas to start with: from a daily food management point of view, some researchers from the ISS and CREA (2020) reiterate their attention to fatty foods, sugary foods and drinks and an excess of carbohydrates in favor of those foods important for nourishment; attention to excesses and therefore to keeping an eye on the portions in view of even the least physical movement; be careful not to overfill the fridge and pantry and not to turn the work table into a place full of various snacks, thus increasing the risk of spicing up continuously. They also hope to be able to “take the opportunity to transform this situation into a new health opportunity,
From an emotional management point of view of our relationship with food, here are some indications to reflect on:
Finally, if you recognize that you have extreme difficulty in this phase, and that you cannot manage your relationship with food on your own, there are many bodies, associations and mental health professionals who have equipped themselves to continue to support you in this period in compliance with the provisions imposed; asking for help can therefore be a really important gift to give to yourself.