The Link Between Anxiety and Food
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is April and in addition to being a found of MyContainerGym, I am also a health coach, sports nutritionist, and personal trainer. I run my own studio and in addition to personal training, I also am a yoga instructor and work with clients to reduce stress through various exercises, breathing techniques and meditation.
Now that you know a bit about my educational background, I want to share with you some experiences I have had in the last year and half.
Many of us (yes me included) have put on weight since the pandemic hit and we were all stuck at home. What has also happened is the level of anxiety in my clients and friends and family is like nothing I have seen before. It’s not that people are having constant panic attacks, but the low to moderate level of anxiety that just doesn’t seem to go away. This is often accompanied by changes in eating patterns. Patterns that I hadn’t thought I would ever see in some people.
What has surprised me though, is people’s willingness to talk about how the struggling with food and sharing the full details. From secret eating to binge eating, to not eating or just pure obsession with food. Has our anxiety reached such high levels that it is leading us to open up? Somethings got to give, so they just let everything out in hopes of finding help and an answer?
While I may not have the perfect answer that will help everyone and maybe no one, I am hoping this idea might help a few. I have succumbed to some of the above as well and therefore and trying to find new ways of interpreting and coping with anxiety and its relationship to food.
Food is part of our everyday day. We have somehow put unhealthy food and drinks at the top of the menu when it comes to celebrations. Celebrating some big accomplishment or a holiday usually includes a host of unhealthy dishes and desserts. How many times have you gone to a restaurant and looked at the menu and know you needed to order the grilled chicken and nicely seasoned veggies, but the words “Come on, we are celebrating, eat whatever you want!”. Meaning get that burger and fries, have a few drinks, order that dessert – after all, you deserve it. Have you ever heard “it’s time to celebrate - let’s go pick out some nice fresh fruits and vegetables, some delicious whole grain bread and lean cut of meat and have a good home cooked nutritious meal! Let’s celebrate the health of our bodies and be good to ourselves on this momentous occasion!” I know I have never heard anyone say that before!
So as many of us know, through the struggle of stay-at-home orders to navigating back to work and school and trying to find a new normal has caused a great deal of anxiety. In an attempt to have something positive, we have taken that association of celebration equals happiness, happiness equals unhealthy food and out on pounds out of a need to try and alleviate anxiety.
Using food as part of your toolbox to counter anxiety and depression is part of the equation, this is a much more nuanced and difficult subject to approach and issue to resolve, I can offer you this: let’s try to switch which food goes with which emotion. Can we ever get to equating happiness with “it’s time to celebrate - let’s go pick out some nice fresh fruits and vegetables, some delicious whole grain bread and lean cut of meat and have a good home cooked nutritious meal! Let’s celebrate the health of our bodies and be good to ourselves on this momentous occasion!”
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