University of Minnesota Medical School researchers recently published a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders that evaluated how pandemic stress is linked to a growing number of stress-related eating habits. The study identifies six major unhealthy eating habits, with one of the most concerning findings related to an increase in eating disorders, which, in non-pandemic times, already kill about one person every 52 minutes.
The other unhealthy eating habits were related to mindless eating and snacking, overeating, and a decrease in appetite and food intake.
In the new study, 53% of those evaluated reported unhealthy weight control behaviors and another 8% had extreme issues with weight control. Binge eating was reported in 14% of the study group. Each of these outcomes was related to poor stress management, sadness and melancholy, and varying levels of financial stress.
The pandemic has caused a significant increase in stress, mood instability, and the disruption of normal activities that can lead people to stress-eating and amplify disordered eating. Eating disorders are serious illnesses that require specialized care, but in this article, I’ll address some of the more mild, but still unbalanced, eating behaviors that have been correlated to pandemic stress and offer behavioral and lifestyle suggestions that can help bring you back into balance.