With many people nearing the end of their second month of sheltering in place, there has been an intense need to be productive and dig into projects that have been placed on the back-burner during the hustle of everyday life. This has ushered in a need to find activities that are creative, often time-consuming and soothing. For many, this has included an exorbitant amount of house-hold projects: organizing, crafting and a lot of time spent in the kitchen.
Whether it is making a third batch of banana bread for the week or experimenting with another chocolate chip cookie recipe (because yes, there must still be thousands untouched), it isn’t surprising that people are finding themselves spending hours in the kitchen to pass the time and soothe their worries. After all, baking is a coping mechanism that is clinically proven to help manage stress and allow for a creative outlet that reminds many people of a simpler time.
Food is one of the biggest ways that we, as humans, attempt to coddle some of our most basic emotions — in times of great stress, it isn’t uncommon to emotionally eat.
It’s safe to say during one of the greatest global periods of grief in recent history that a lot of people’s natural inclination is turning to find a replacement for basic human connection at the bottom of a box of Kraft mac and cheese.
And to be honest, in today’s climate, is that really all that bad?
Under the most normal circumstances, emotional eating is often a trigger for some people, especially those with already disordered eating tendencies. And, it’s extremely valid to be struggling with those at a time like this since one of the only things under our control is our own bodies.
For others, there is absolute boredom thrown in the mix. It seems like eating an entire bag of Cheetos has become more of an activity to pass the time than a way to provide our bodies with actual nourishment.
It is of the utmost importance at a time like this to understand, nothing is truly normal.
Much of our modern-day narrative around food centers around the notion that eating healthy is a necessity. And while yes, for the sake of our bodies, it’s recommended that we take in a certain amount of fruits and vegetables per day to maintain a balanced level of wellness, but there is always room for an occasional cheat day. And during a pandemic, those cheat days might just need to be a little more frequent, which is absolutely okay.
While it’s important to recognize that our bodies need sustenance that will aid in boosting our immune systems, do not stay trapped in a static mindset that enforces a strict diet during this time. If sticking to a fitness regime and snacking on veggies brings great comfort and relief, then more power to you.
But, just know that indulging in a favorite childhood snack or eating an extra cookie after dinner is not going to be the end of the world — it just might be the thing that actually saves it all from crumbling down.
According to U.S. Health News, the main thing for those struggling in a time like this is to accept that the conflict is natural, especially in this time of heightened stress. It is also important to recognize that you shouldn’t feel guilty about the change in eating habits, the increase in snacking, even the impulse to buy unhealthy foods during the hopefully limited trips to stores.
For one thing, it’s more convenient to be eating more processed foods seeing as they are lasting longer at home than some fresh produce and other items that usually warrant more frequent grocery store visits.
On a more personal level, it feels comforting to eat the salty, cheesy boxed mac and cheese or those sweet and powdery little donuts. Because with nostalgia comes memories of happier, more stable times.
That is something we all need right now — some sense of control and stability over the unknowns.
As the world returns to a hopefully more normal state in the coming months, fitness and buying fresh food can once again become a priority. Until then, if the one thing within your realm of control today is eating a sweet treat, simply be kind to yourself and eat the cookie.