During the first few weeks of the covid-19 pandemic, with everyone’s normal routine upended, many of us responded by turning to foods that give comfort. It seemed many thought, “I should eat now before I’m down to my last cracker in the cabinet.” That quickly turned into more comfort eating followed by a course-correction of food-restricting. So much of our social media fixated on baking banana bread and sourdough starters. Memes were circulating about gaining the pandemic 15+ (pounds). Clients have shared how diet culture has shaped their lives during this time, and in particular, we see our relationships with food also reflects a need to feel some control during uncertainty.
An onslaught of diet culture messages about how to avoid weight gain while under quarantine is adding fuel to the fire. After all, diet culture profits off of our insecurities and fears about our bodies. It tells us we’re not good enough; and what a better time to capitalize on those fears and insecurities than when we’re all feeling less control.
This time has shored up many feelings for folks on their bodies. For those wanting to do this work, remind yourself that your priority is to take care of yourself as best as you can. Some days it might mean eating summer vegetables and other days it might mean Fritos and 7-layer dip. It is possible to use this time to be nicer to our bodies. Foods do not have a moral value: they are neither good nor bad. Empower yourself to let go of these labels. Neutralizing food can help us let go of shame and it can be about the basic need to eat.
Sara Allen LPC, NCC