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  • Julie C.H. Brake, MS, RDN, LD

Eating During a Crisis

We are currently dealing with a global pandemic of the COVID-19 Wuhan Coronavirus. My previous post was concerning whether or not nutrition can protect us against infection or disease. Now I will write about how we can be eating during this crisis. I'll also include a Christian perspective on how we can honor God at this troublesome time. These principles apply to any crisis.

How do we eat well in a crisis? Follow guidelines for shopping and going out in public. Planning grocery shopping will help keep store visits to a minimum and keep costs down. If your job is affected by the crisis, reach out to local food pantries, nonprofit organizations, and churches. Get as much of a variety of foods as possible. If you can't find your favorite or your usual items, you can either choose a substitute item or look for it again the next time you go to the store. Variety is the key to balanced nutrition. Use frozen and canned items to meet your needs. These are also good to keep in stock for when fresh items are low and you're not ready to go back to the store.

What if I'm home more and eating all the time? Try to have a regular meal and snack structure. Eating too often or waiting too long between eating occasions can change your sense of appetite and hunger. Pay close attention to hunger cues, feelings of fullness, and cravings. Stress does use more energy and increase hunger. Don't be afraid to eat what you think will truly satisfy your hunger. It is helpful to plan three meals plus three snacks daily. Children may only be hungry enough to eat three meals and two snacks daily until adolescence. Keep in mind that children will follow hunger and fullness cues unless someone else tries to force them.

What if I have no appetite? When we're overly stressed we sometimes don't want to eat or have trouble finding foods that seem to taste good. Try to feed your body what you think it needs even if you're not feeling that hungry. Often when we start to eat, we realize that we are hungry and we want food.

If I can't exercise, should I still eat the same amount? The best way to know what your body needs is to follow your hunger and fullness cues. If your needs change, your hunger and fullness cues will change. Physical activity is great for decreasing stress, so taking a walk every day or two can help keep you in tune with your appetite as well.

How does my faith relate to how I eat in a crisis? Trusting the Lord affects how we approach every aspect of life. If I believe God is Sovereign, then I believe that He is in control of events in my life and events happening in the world. My trust in the Lord does not mean that I am never anxious or afraid, but it means that when I feel anxious or afraid I bring my concerns to God in prayer (Philippians 4:4-8, 1 Peter 5:7). Therefore, my fears should not be interfering with my ability to eat. I should also be able to shop for what I need without taking so much that it affects what is available for others. When we are able to be content with what we have and praise God regardless of our situation, we bring honor and glory to the Lord.

What if I have problems with nutrition or my relationship with food? Please contact Positive Nutrition for help! Whether you are just looking for support or need in-depth nutrition counseling, a Registered Dietitian can provide the help that you need.

In the middle of what seems so chaotic, take a step back and breathe deeply. Let's be thankful for what we have. Be sure to include fun with foods whenever you can. Eat well and prosper!

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