The idea of connecting food cravings with the restrictions of COVID-19, came to me after reading a message from a client.
She shared with me how hard it has been for her to be stuck at home and not be able to get out and do the things she usually does.
She went on to say that she has often wished for this time at home and
now that she must stay home,
all she wants to do is go out.
I feel the same way.
I am trying to look at this time, at home, as a gift.
And there is something deep inside me that is feeling restrained and not liking it, one bit.
Can you relate?
deprivation and restriction
There is something about being told we can’t have something that makes us want it all the more.
Maybe it is the pink elephant idea.
When someone tells you not to think about pink elephants, all you can do is think about pink elephants.
Whatever you do, don’t think about pink elephants – no pink elephants.
Have pink elephants on your mind?
So, when we keep hearing about the need to stay away from public places and practice social distancing, what are we going to be thinking about?
not being able to go places
or be with friends.
or, maybe your favorite gathering place.
It could be that all the talk of not going out keeps us thinking about it and maybe it also has to do with scarcity.
Early in our history, as humans, our survival depended on having the things that were important to us.
So, when we felt deprived, we felt uneasy and afraid and had a strong pull to get them so that we survived as a species.
I’m just hypothesizing on that and it makes intuitive sense to me and seems to fit with how many of us are feeling right now.
So, what does all of this have to do with food cravings?
I’m wondering whether you blame yourself for your food cravings?
Most people who come to see me do.
They tell me that they lack willpower or self-control.
restriction and food cravings
When I try to explain the impact restricting has on cravings, most people have a hard time believing that the problem isn’t personal.
Struggles with eating and weight often lead to strong internalized messages about oneself.
These messages are rarely positive.
I call them old “diet wires.”
These are beliefs that you have “wired” about who you are based on your struggles with food or weight.
it isn’t personal
This is where I think anyone who has blamed themselves for their food cravings or failed dieting –
can learn from what is happening right now as we try to prevent the spread of the virus.
If you are restricted to home, I bet you are craving what you can’t have right now – getting out.
Being told we can’t have something seems to make us want it all the more!
Just like my client, I have a ton of projects at home that I have been anxiously waiting to tackle and now that I can’t go into town, what do I want to do?
Go into town.
It doesn’t have anything to do with willpower,
a lack of motivation or
whatever other explanations you may have ascribed to your cravings and failed dieting.
bring some new information into those old wires about your food cravings
So, if you have been feeling the impacts of the restrictions on your activities, as we try to prevent the spread of the virus, see if you can use it to bring some new information into the meaning that you have given to your food cravings and diet failures.
It isn’t personal.
It isn’t about any weakness on your part.
It’s about being human.
If you want to eat in a different way,
how about learning to eat in a way that cares for you and your body
rather than fighting what seems to be an instinctual reaction to deprivation or restriction?
If you would like to learn more about non-dieting approaches to health, click here.
suggestions for dealing with fear
And if you, like so many others, are feeling afraid right now and would like some help with your fear, here are some suggestions.
Sign up for the Library, below, and select Anxiety as a Resource. I have been writing articles about how to deal with fear and anxiety.
Learn about anxiety and find out whether you have been approaching anxiety in a way that is making it worse for you.
Then, consider taking the skills class to really hone your skills.
This model can also be applied to most other areas in your life.
Online therapy can alleviate some of the anxiety related to starting therapy.
You don’t have to travel to an office, or worry about who might see you and you will be in the comfort and security of your home for your sessions.
It is also a helpful option, right now, with concerns about the virus.
If you would like to learn more about working with me, individually online, click here and we can talk about whether online therapy is a good option for you.
If you have found the information in this article useful, I’d love to hear it. And, if there are other topics you are interested in, be sure and let me know that as well. You can do that below in the comment section.
Do you wonder whether you should get help for your anxiety – but end up second guessing yourself?
Are you unsure that it will help or maybe question whether you need it in the first place?
If you are like many of the people who come to see me for help with their anxiety, this debate can go on for some time – often months or even years.
I feel sad when I hear how long people have waited to get help – sad because anxiety is so treatable.
By that I mean, with the right tools, most people with anxiety get better.
Instead many, maybe most, people
on their own
trying to control their anxiety
and without realizing it, they make it worse.
So, I’d like to share some signs suggesting that it would be a good idea to reach out for support.
Signs that it might be time to get some help
There are many signs that I could include in this list. I have simply chosen five.
If you don’t see a symptom that you feel worried about, please don’t take it to mean that it isn’t important.
You are starting to avoid places, people, and activities that you once enjoyed. Avoidance is a commonly used strategy to deal with anxiety. Although avoidance may provide temporary relief, it most often leads to loneliness, isolation and depression.
You try to control situations to avoid getting anxious. Trying to prevent anxiety through planning and control is another commonly used strategy for those struggling with anxiety. Unfortunately, this type of planning leads to anxiety about getting anxious. If you do this, I bet you know what I mean!
You are self-medicating through drugs or alcohol to ease your symptoms. Anxiety is uncomfortable and it is understandable that you want relief. Medicating the symptoms can provide temporary relief but doesn’t really address the problem. And there is the added worry (anxiety) about addiction.
You are missing work or withdrawing from family responsibilities. Trying to prevent or control anxiety often leads people to stay home from work or back out of family activities. This often leads to family or work conflicts/difficulties and you guessed it, more anxiety.
Your health is suffering. Dealing with chronic stress is draining, emotionally and physically. If your health is suffering, please get some support.
These are just five of the signs that suggest you would benefit from getting help for your anxiety – there are certainly others.
If you feel like you can’t take it anymore
If you are feeling hopeless or like you can’t take it any more, please reach out for help! With the right tools anxiety is so treatable and you need the tools!
Think of it as your psyche saying:
” this feels desperate and we need some help!”
Ready to take a step to turn this around?
Is it time for you to get some support and guidance to turn this around?
How about an online class?
If you see yourself in these signs, how about sticking your toe in the water with an online class?
Over the past months, friends and clients have shared with me the stress they are feeling about the state of our world. Some are angry, some furious while others are sad and/or anxious. Most have expressed the whole range of feelings.
Many of my sessions with clients have focused on these feelings. So when the following appeared in a holiday letter, I knew that I needed to share it.
I imagine you are surprised to be hearing from me! I have been so busy in my private practice working with clients – for which I feel very grateful – that I have neglected this blog. I feel sad about that, as I do enjoy it.
Sitting with clients this past week, the idea of New Year’s resolutions has crept into many conversations. I have been happily surprised as there has been less talk of “this year I am going to…..”
And people still seem to be searching for a way to start the New Year with a sense of purpose while, at the same time, not setting themselves up for failure. So, I thought that it might be useful to put this idea out there, again, this year.
What if resolutions only had to last for a moment?
The information provided in this blog is for general information and educational purposes. If you live in Montana and are seeking professional services, please give me a call and we can determine whether we are a good fit to work together. If so, we could discuss the therapy process and mutually decide whether to begin therapy. If not, I can assist you with other referrals. If you do not live in MT please call a professional in your area.