As of Thursday, the U.S. confirmed 1.26 million COVID-19 cases and 74,581 deaths. Despite the rise in numbers, some states are gradually reopening and social distancing rules are to be eased further.
Among the many coping mechanisms, the anxiety caused by the current pandemic may lead people towards consuming comfort food excessively. The reason why eating junk food is soothing to our minds is because it kicks in the brain’s reward system by releasing dopamine and endorphins.
Sugary foods with carbohydrates aid the release of the happy chemical called serotonin, which also plays an important role in generating pleasure and happiness. The brain’s positive feedback is why people go back to this habit continuously since it provides them with temporary satisfaction, although they are theoretically aware of how indulging in unhealthy cravings could impact their health.
Due to the availability of free time, financial concerns and the looming threat of disease, mental health problems have been on the rise. In these trying times, it is easy to start binge eating since negative emotions are often the underlying cause for cravings.
However, if you check yourself every time the urge arises, you may eventually kick the bad habit. Here are some tips to reduce cravings:
According to study conducted in 2015, 15-minute long brisk walking brought down cravings for unhealthy snacks, particularly chocolate, as opposed to being stationary.
Every time you have hunger pangs and are craving junk food, drink water and ensure you stay hydrated by drinking 64 ounces of water every day. If you are currently dieting, drinking water every time you feel hungry even after consuming meals could quench these pangs immediately.
As long as the majority of the diet is made of healthy food, you can designate a cheat day or hour to satisfy some of your cravings. You can plan ahead and indulge once in a while since it would make it easier to follow a healthy dietary plan.
When people are stressed, depressed and lonely, these low feelings might trigger memories associated with certain foods. Sensory triggers, be it smell or visuals, could also lead people to indulge their sweet tooth. Be aware of these triggers, especially during the pandemic. Know that food cannot substitute and change these unhappy feelings.