How to stop binge eating

Swap binge-eating during lockdown for healthier, controlled eating habits
MINDFUL EATING: Swap binge-eating during lockdown for healthier, controlled eating habits

Reaching for my seventh cup of instant coffee, it occurred to me that perhaps I have not been handling the lockdown  in quite the controlled fashion I’d thought.

Looking at my caffeine and cake consumption compared to a few weeks ago, when I was rationed to two cups and no cake ever, I am clearly on the C19 diet.

The C19 diet is a polite way of describing the panicked, disordered, often frankly gluttonous, disordered eating patterns adopted by many.

A survey by King’s College London has found one in three of us (33%) have eaten more food or less healthy food than normal and that half of us (49%) have felt more anxious or depressed than normal as a result of the coronavirus.

While the odd week of crazed eating is a small price to pay for Covid-19 sanity, experts warn that, unless we find a way to get back under control, as quarantines stretch on, there will be a reckoning.

Childhood obesity could be the next epidemic, scientists from Columbia University in the US say in a study published recently.

Established data shows children are already prone to gaining weight during long summer holidays, especially among those already overweight.

“When a child experiences obesity, even at a young age, they are at risk for higher, unhealthy weight all the way into middle age,”  epidemiologist Prof Andrew Rundle, who led the study, says.

Nutritionist Kim Pearson says humans need routine, especially when it comes to eating well.

“Before the lockdown, we would’ve had breakfast at a certain time, perhaps so we could leave for work or school, then lunch to fit into the daily routine, and our evening meal when we came home.

“That need for a fixed time has disappeared.

“If you don’t eat proper meals, your blood sugar levels go on a rollercoaster, so you keep feeling you need to eat something to stay happy.”

Boredom, stress and loneliness all play a part.

“There are so many reasons why we eat when we are not hungry,” Pearson says.

But what can you do if erratic eating is your new normal?

How can you get order back?

First, Pearson says, keep a food diary and note your feelings when you eat.

Consider what you could do instead.

“If you are feeling stressed and have a desire to eat, what could you do instead to calm down?

“Would it work to go for your walk, light a candle or have a cup of tea?”

If the driving factor is loneliness, try to recognise that feeling, pick up the phone and contact someone.

Start a sleep routine too, so you get eight hours a night.

And if you want a treat, plan for it.

“You shouldn’t be eating  food as a reaction to something but as part of a meal.”

“Most of us seem to have a fear of hunger,”  Pearson says.

“But that won’t be a problem if you start structuring meals properly. Get the recipe book out and develop some new healthy recipes.” — The Telegraph

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