April is National Stress Awareness Month, so I thought this might be a good time to talk about how eating may be impacted by heightened stress and anxiety right now, as well as how to reduce food-related stress.
As you are getting into a far-from-normal school routine to finish out the spring semester, you may be realizing that your eating routine is all out of whack! Food can feel very comforting for some people in times of stress, while others may have a diminished appetite and aren’t feeling very hungry at all. It is certainly normal to have either response or you may even be experiencing both, depending on the day.
If you feel you could use some guidance in creating a greater sense of normalcy with food during this time, I have some reminders and tips for you!
- Take care of yourself with whatever is available to you. Your favorite foods or those that you consume regularly may not be available right now. Just do your best to eat enough food and eat regularly. Remember, food is keeping you alive and sustained right now!
- We all need quite a bit of food just to keep us alive and to keep our body and immune system in check. You do not need to diminish your intake, regardless of how much or little you are moving your body right now.
- Perfecting your food is not the way to go about boosting your immune system. Don’t worry about buying supplements, “super foods” or “immune-boosting” foods right now because the most important thing for our immune systems is getting adequate energy.
- You may feel like you are stress eating or eating with your emotions right now. If this is the case, have some self-compassion. As I mentioned earlier, food can be very comforting in times of uncertainty. I encourage you to eat the foods that you find most nourishing and satisfying right now, whatever that may be.
- Grazing on food all day can cause you to feel hungrier throughout the day leading to continuous thoughts about food. If you feel you relate to this, following a loose eating schedule may be beneficial for you.
- Stress and anxiety may cause a diminished appetite for some, leading to limited feelings of hunger. Since eating enough food is so important now (and always), following a loose eating schedule may also be beneficial for you.
Tips for following a loose eating schedule:
- The key word here is loose. Remember, we don’t want or need food to be an added stressor right now (or ever). Nothing about this schedule needs to be strict, including what you eat. It should be used out of self-care, not to control your intake.
- If you are someone who tends to eat 3 meals a day with little to no snacks in between, my recommendation is to plan meals out every 4-5 hours, as this can help prevent forgetting to eat or skipping meals. Set reminders on your phone!
- If you are someone who likes to eat smaller meals and snacks more frequently, I recommend snacking every 2-3 hours. Make sure they are substantial and satisfying snacks to prevent feeling hungry all day.
- If you are someone who needs a little bit more guidance with regular meals and snacks, it can even be beneficial to add in loose time frames for eating and set reminders on your phone!
I want to help make eating as stress-free as possible for you right now! So, I have provided a snack planner, as well as a list of balanced snacks that can be found both on and off campus (see below). Keep in mind, though, we can only do so much with what is available to us right now. It’s OK if meals and snacks are not perfectly balanced!
Since blueberries are the produce of the month, I have also added a demo video for one of my favorite and easy muffin recipes! Check it out here. You can also find this and other blueberry recipes on the Produce of the Month page.
If you need extra support right now, I am available to all USF Dining meal plan holders. Please do not hesitate to reach out!