Cultivating food freedom during self isolation

During the COVID19 period you’ve been thrown the biggest curve ball of your career and work life has moved from school to your home with little time to prepare. The transition was sudden and unprecedented, thrusting you into the unknown. This unknown has heightened our awareness of how we ‘live’ health, especially how we manage our food environment.

I’m eating more than usual, is that bad?

While teaching life is already demanding and stressful, an unpredictable event like we’re experiencing now can disrupt our physiology. Feeding behaviours can be altered due the conditions we face. We are currently living a collective traumatic experience, and our response will be filled with emotion as our security has been threatened. Our food environment has become threatened with panic buying, we’ve had to physically isolate from others and change the way we live. If we have a problematic relationship with food, this can feel like a more exacerbated response. Emotional eating is generally a term that is frowned upon and seen as a problem, especially when we eat outside of physical hunger. This is actually quite normal unless it’s your only stress coping tool. If you seek comfort in food, enjoy it and move on. 

Manage those food thoughts

Health messages that impart rules of what to eat versus what not to eat only serve to perpetuate an imagined food hierarchy. Negative emotions about food impede our ability to tune into the eating experience. Ignoring hunger cues will just increase your body’s request for food. Despite what diet culture and food marketing tells us, all food is neutral. It doesn’t need to attain to a moral tone. One way to counteract this is to centre your thoughts about the sensory pleasure of food. Focus on the taste, smell, texture and visual appeal and experience. 

It’s not just what we eat that matters. 

Health is far from a linear scale and there’s a general consensus that the epitome of good health is better quality nutrition consumed. While our quality of life is supported by quality food, our unique physiology, biology and psychology interacting with its environment is also a driving force of our health status. Everyday life is much more complex; sleep quality, physical activity, social connections and relationships, work commitments and any stressors that these may produce are contributing factors. 

While we’re in the same storm, we’re all in different boats navigating our own experience. Be gentle with yourself when it comes to speculating about your food choices. Taking care of ourselves requires a little more intuition and a lot less judgement. When we’re less critical, we foster a more curious and healthy relationship with food. 

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