Eating disorders have been on the rise since the emergence of the Coronavirus. One of the easiest ways that people tend to comfort themselves through times of uncertainty is through their caloric intake. The ability to choose what we eat or do not eat has a psychological element. It allows us to feel safe and in control of our environment. This psychological element of control is also why we saw at the beginning of the pandemic the odd behavior of hoarding toilet paper.
In one sense, the object doesn’t matter as much as the tendency we feel to control our environment, to make irrational choices, and justify them. Similarly, this is what is happening with so many people being stuck at home and making reactionary choices about eating unhealthy amounts of food.
There is also something to be said about how we identify with who we are and our bodies and how that relationship will be amplified during times of stress. There are specific regions in the brain that work together to either reward you for eating certain foods that are both good and bad for you. This is why being aware and proactive in what we eat, and why we eat is valuable to our health.
Our brain will reward us for the foods we eat. It will draw upon our own past experiences of how we have felt or are feeling about food. If we have connected a bad self-image to eating carbs, for example, our brains will keep that memory stored and remind us to hate carbs — all carbs. Which isn’t necessarily a healthy choice, because our brain needs a minimal amount of glucose to perform. Or, if we “stress-eat”, our brain will also remind us that that is how we have coped in the past, and we need to do that again.
One easy strategy we all have access to that can help short-circuit some of these beliefs that are not helping us during these times is the gift of meditation. Meditation research has shown to help rewire beliefs about ourselves, even our self-images. A study from Stanford University has shown that meditation does not only reduce stress but increases self-image and confidence.
Meditation is a tool we specialize in teaching here at Next Breath Counseling. We believe in the scientific benefits and that it can help you. We would love to help you improve your health, self-image, and relationship to food.