How to Avoid the Quarantine 15: Emotional Eating

Hard news aside, two burning questions have taken over my Facebook newsfeed lately: Did Carole Baskin feed her husband to a tiger, and what’s the best way to avoid the Quarantine 15? 

I can’t say for sure if Carole turned Don into kibble (although I have many thoughts on that). However, as a registered dietitian, I can certainly tell you how to stave off the Quarantine 15. 

The Quarantine 15 is a cheeky term for the 15 pounds some anticipate gaining during the COVID-19 crisis. You can nip it in the bud with a few simple lifestyle strategies—no drastic approaches or macro math necessary. 

Over the next few days, we’ll share a few lifestyle strategies to avoid the Quarantine 15. Today, we take on emotional eating.

About Emotional Eating

Do you ever eat when you’re not truly hungry?  

We’ve all been conditioned to use food to satisfy emotional needs. Ever eaten ice cream to cheer up after a breakup, or sipped on wine to relieve stress? This is called emotional eating.  

A global pandemic plus a quarantine really brings a lot of emotions to the surface: 

  • Loneliness, from not being able to see our loved ones.
  • Grief, from all the life events we’re missing.
  • Stress, from adjusting to new roles and routines.
  • Anxiety, from the uncertainty of this all. 
  • Boredom, from being stuck at home. 

To be honest, I’m pretty impressed if you haven’t eaten to soothe your emotions in the past 3 weeks—I know I have! But friend, food is only the solution when hunger is the problem. 

One of the simplest strategies to avoid the Quarantine 15 is to find a way to soothe yourself that doesn’t involve food. The best part: You can start implementing this strategy right now. 

Here’s how to get started. 

A 3-Step Strategy to Stop Emotional Eating

First: Make a list of people and activities that bring you joy and relieve stress. Here’s a page where you can do that.

Second: Do a body scan when you feel the urge to eat. Are you having physical signs of hunger, like an empty feeling in your stomach? Did your desire come on quickly or gradually? Are you dreaming of one specific food, or would you eat just about anything?  What about your brain—are you feeling content or unhappy? 

Third: If you’re truly hungry (meaning, the desire to eat came on gradually, is accompanied by physical symptoms, and could be satisfied by any food), then eat! If you’re not sure, pull out that list. Is there something on that list that you could try and that might make you feel better? Do it. 

Now, this strategy is simple, but it’s not always easy. You have to be consistent with it, and it takes some practice. Stick with it—it gets easier with time. 

Need More Help to Avoid the Quarantine 15? 

Do you need a little more guidance with your nutrition right now? We’d love to help! Follow our blog the next few days for more strategies to avoid the Quarantine 15. Next, we talk about creating new routines. 

You can also click here to schedule a free 15-minute chat with me, and to learn more about our nutrition coaching. 

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