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How To Make Meal Time Less Stressful (During A Really Stressful Time)

The Coronavirus COVID-19 global health crisis has changed everyone’s life in some way. Adjusting to the new reality of socially isolating and having to establish new routines in a very short amount of time can certainly lead to increased stress and anxiety. For someone in the throes of an eating disorder, new routines can mean a change in eating behaviors, disruption of body cues, and body dissatisfaction. Below are some tips on how to manage your food and eating behaviors during quarantine:

1. Plan your meal times then your daily activities (not the other way around).

Prioritizing meal times is so important and can help you follow through with your meal plan or nutrition goals. Most likely. your routine or schedule has changed in some way, or may even have become wide open without structure to your day. Less structure combined with stress can feel chaotic and lead to chaotic eating, such as grazing, skipping meals or acting on behaviors. To avoid that, make time for meals. Give yourself a non-negotiable 1-1.5 hour window for each meal, and schedule your other activities around them.

2. Consider or reconsider cooking.

Cooking requires energy, mentally and physically speaking. During a global health crisis, its absolutely normal to feel more fatigued then usual, so consider your energy level and how it may impact meal time. Talk to your dietitian about “high energy/cooking” days that include more creative or elaborate meals and also “low energy/no-cook” meal ideas that you can just throw together. This can help you plan for and prioritize cooking on days that you are feeling more energized and motivated, and know that you can have leftovers or convenience meals for harder days.

3. Find your stress-free food zone.

Is reading the news increasing your anxiety? Stop scrolling while eating! Eating in a relaxed state can increase overall satisfaction with your meal and also help to prevent gastrointestinal upset, like heartburn or stomach pains. Create a calming space in your home where you can mindfully eat. If you need a distraction or support thats fine too, call a friend or schedule a FaceTime lunch date! Your space doesn’t have to be at the kitchen table either: find a nook, a floor, or a couch and add relaxing music or a candle to create your comfort.

For more recovery-focused eating tips, talk to your nourishED Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or schedule your initial appointment here.

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