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  • Writer's pictureTower Hill Clinic

Behavioural eating

Updated: Mar 26

With the occurrence of the 2020 pandemic several drastic measures have been implemented to control the spread of the virus. These measures, ranging from a full lockdown, to wearing masks in public spaces, have forced changes in our daily lives impacting various aspects including our emotions and our eating behaviours.

Studies have suggested a strong relationship between intestinal microbiota and mental health, in addition to the proven effects of some foods on anxiety.

According to psychotherapist Daniele Nonnenmacher various factors that appeared due to the emergence of the virus triggering fears and anxieties, these included social isolation, as well as the many insecurities and uncertainties that appeared due to the status quo. All the feelings stirred because of this moment, added to the difficulties of establishing and adapting to a new routine (now at home), ended up affecting our eating habits.

Why has this happened? When anxiety rises, it is very common to have immediate changes in behaviours in order to reduce the discomfort caused, and often food ends up as this adjustment. According to Daniele, this happens because our affective memory is loaded with flavours and memories that make the meal a vehicle for images, senses and feelings. According to Daniele, establishing a routine with breaks for food and leisure, practicing physical exercises (even indoors), keeping in touch with friends and family (can be by video call) and using breathing techniques are simple strategies that can help at this time.

Nutrition can also be combined during this time of anxiety, according to nutritionist Heloisy Brandt, and as mentioned above it is common to end up cover up our emotions with food, food brings us comfort, and also reminds us of good times, with the family for example. But we must emphasize that in this moment when we are a little more anxious, we need to decrease the amount of caloric foods without nutritional value, such as refined carbohydrates (sweets, breads, pasta, soft drinks, etc.). Attention: decreasing does not mean excluding.

Increase the amount of fibre in your diet (pumpkin seed, oats, flaxseed, chia, etc.), consume tryptophan source foods (bananas, cocoa, nuts and legumes, etc.), teas (chamomile, passionflower, valerian, melissa, etc.), and hydrate yourself well!

If you notice that it is difficult to manage your anxiety or even take care of your food at this time, don’t hesitate and get in touch with us.

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