By: Isis Vazquez.
Excessive health concern, fear, anxiety and stress are normal responses in these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In some cases it is normal and understandable that people experience these feelings in the context of the global pandemic we are going through.
Since the first months of 2020, the changes we have made in our daily lives caused by the pandemic have forced us to live "the new normal" with the latent fear of contracting the virus. In the face of “the new normality”, physical distancing, working from home and remote education of children can increase the level of stress and anxiety in people.
And what is the relationship between stress, anxiety and food? What makes us associate food with feeling good for a moment?
Eating foods rich in fats, sugars and refined flours help the production of neurotransmitters and the so-called endorphins.
Almost from the moment we have our first contact with the world, we begin to associate food with pleasure, with the feeling of well-being…
What is the first thing we do when a baby cries? We offer him something to eat. When a child gets hurt, we immediately run to give him a popsicle or candy, something that mitigates his pain at that moment. When we see that someone is sad about something. reason or that he has a duel, we offer him a chocolate, or a slice of cake and we tell him the classic phrase "the sorrows with bread are less".
To begin with, we have to understand what it is that we find in these foods that make us feel good, why by eating them we experience a bit of pleasure, tranquility and well-being, why a quesadilla, a cake, a chocolate or a candy can attenuate in that moment our anxiety that generates stress.
Foods rich in sugars help us release neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin (which is closely related to emotion and moods), this is because they have a series of natural chemicals such as tryptophan, through which The body produces serotonin that activates neurotransmitters in the brain, thus affecting mood.
Having serotonin levels below normal is associated with mental illnesses such as depression, stress and anxiety among other emotional problems, manifesting itself with an increased appetite for carbohydrates and sleep problems.
A person can develop a compulsion to eat foods with highly addictive substances, such as flour and sugar, when momentarily finding pleasure in them, it is like a kind of anesthesia caused mainly by endorphins.
There are many factors that can develop the compulsion to eat, in each person it is different, obesity is multifactorial, it can be due to genetics, culture, sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits.
Anxiety and stress cannot be removed by eating excessively.
What to do about this?
Identify if you are a compulsive eater, why you eat that way, what is behind this destructive behavior.
The WHO World Health Organization shares some recommendations for the general population on how to take care of #MentalHealth.
• Minimize the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to news that causes you anxiety or distress.
• Avoid listening to or following rumors that make you feel uncomfortable and look for those with positive content, happy and entertaining.
• Try to maintain your personal daily routines, such as sleep, personal hygiene, meal times, housekeeping.
• During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings.
• Do healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
• Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods.
If you need help.
With the purpose of bringing psychological attention closer to the population, the National Autonomous University of Mexico offers the services of a Call Center Psychological Attention Line specialized in mental health.
Through the number 5025 0855, experts offer first contact help on issues such as relationship problems, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, among others.
The IPN Psychological Support Line arises from the recognition that people face the experience of recognizing themselves as vulnerable, derived from this pandemic, and that this begins to affect their relationship with the world, with others and with themselves. For this reason, the mental health of each individual is fundamental, because recovering, strengthening ourselves, as a community and society, is everyone's task.
Monday to Saturday from 12:00 to 20:00 hrs. at the number (55) 5729 6376, extensions 23051, 23052, 23053, 23054, 23055
If you feel worried, sad, anxious or angry, do not hesitate to contact any of the hotlines.