I Stress Ate During A Pandemic – Here’s What Happened

I’ve been on an intentional weight loss journey since September 2019. My reasons are not those of vanity; but a means to an end to my arthritic pain. Yep. I have to get smaller to get a hip replacement.

I managed to lose a total of 60bs during that time.

And then a COVID19 happened.

Emotional Roller-coaster Led to Emotional Eating

As news rapidly began to unfold, and shelter-in-place orders began to roll out, suddenly my anxiety was reaching new piques. The death toll was rising, schools were closing, jobs were opting for work at home all while this immense fear was welling up within me.

It was as if all the healthy coping mechanisms I learned in therapy over the years were flying right out the window.

My initial reaction? Smoke a cigarette. Yea, as a former Newport puffer my auto-response to stress is still pick up a cigarette. I knew that I wasn’t going to do that. So then I cried, a lot. And then I started munching.

Munching on snacks here and there between meals, eating things I hadn’t eaten in awhile like pasta and even beef (which, terrible decision because my body and beef don’t agree). There was a sense of comfort that came from the snacking.

Did I know I was emotionally eating? Not at first, but once I became cognizant; I knew I had to correct my step.

It’s OK to Feel What You Feel

It wasn’t easy to admit that I had relapsed into something that I worked really hard to get away from. I had an honest conversation with my therapist and nutritionist about where I was at with things. I was fully prepared for whatever scolding that I thought was to come; instead I was met with the opposite.


Both my nutritionist and therapist were kind in explaining to me that my mental health is real; and perfection is not the expectation. I was able to talk openly with both of them about how my anxiety was making me feel as well as falling into an active episode of depression.

Those conversations allowed me to show myself compassion and take the opportunity to feel what I was feeling without the self imposed guilt.

A Relapse Doesn’t Have to be Forever

I was feeling so guilty about my emotional eating and 15 pound weight gain that I hadn’t even stopped to think: I have the power to change this.

Did I feel bad about the weight gain? Yea, it definitely felt like a step backwards. Is it the end of the world? No. I have acknowledged the issue and now I’m working on restoring my healthy coping mechanisms. Is that easy? No, because it requires discipline and holding myself accountable and that’s not an easy thing.

Imperfection is par for the course when you’re human. I’m going to make mistakes; but the important part is learning from them and moving on. I don’t have to dwell in the space of perceived failure.

The Wrap Up

I am proud of myself for identifying my behavior as being an unhealthy coping mechanism; then taking the steps to correct it. A year ago, it might have taken me 6 months before I was ready to do the work. I’m pleased that I am able to see my growth.

If you’re reading this and you can relate to have unhealthy coping mechanisms (whatever they might be); you’re not alone. You’re not a failure. You’re human. Be kind to yourself as you take steps to overcome whatever your personal struggle is. Remember, be just as compassionate with yourself as you would a friend or family member.

Until Next Time,