There has been a lot of dialogue around stress eating, mindless snacking, and weight gain during this unusual time. Parents are finding themselves “struggling to resist the kids’ food” and feelings of isolation have people using food for comfort. I am here to share: It is OK if you are eating things you wouldn’t normally eat right now.  It is human nature to overcompensate when there is a threat of deprivation, even if subconscious.

It can be difficult to accept weight changes and feeling “out of control” around food. To neutralize this perspective, let’s talk about toilet paper. Days after the media started reporting a shortage of toilet paper, people went out to the stores and bought them out of almost all paper products. In reality, we have not had a decrease in production, just an increase in demand caused by the mere threat of deprivation. This innate response can be directly paralleled to what some may be experiencing with food.

Why it’s normal — yes, normal.

A craving for comfort and stability in such uncertain times is normal, even common. When we fear our needs may not be met, our survival instincts often kick in. Our innate response to even an unconscious threat of deprivation is the same reason why fad diets don’t work in the long run, and why people may find themselves eating differently or more than they normally would. For some this may display itself by eating less, eating more, eating things one wouldn’t normally, or even coping in a way that has nothing to do with food. These responses are normal, you are normal, and most certainly unworthy of any form of shame related to food and body at this time (or any time, for that matter).

What you can do

First and most importantly, show yourself grace and compassion by normalizing and accepting your experience. Find comfort in knowing these unusual circumstances lead to unusual behaviors that will work themselves out with time. You don’t have to go on a crash diet, restrict yourself, or exercise excessively to get back to normal; your body will take care of that on its own. Secondly, focus on taking care of your health holistically. Mental and emotional health is just as important as eating vegetables and not bingeing on cookies. In fact, you may find the more you focus on coping skills and self-care, the quicker this deprivation seesaw will end. Talk with your Health Advisor about how to take the focus off weight and instead focus on taking care of your health.