Anxiety baking + comfort foods + lack of exercise = weight gain.
Soothing ourselves with a nightly glass of wine doesn’t help, nor does streaming movies from the couch. Goodness knows, it’s hard to manage our weight while we are sheltering in place, but perhaps if we knew why we are starting to pack on a few pounds, we might be able to figure out how to slow it down or stop it in its tracks.
Historically, sales of baking supplies soar in trying times; they surged in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, and they have surged now that we have sheltering in place. Anxiety baking—a concept that describes both worry-driven baking and its therapeutic benefits—is an activity that grounds and comforts us because it requires time and focus on a sequence of steps that push worry to the back burner, at least for the time being.
Not only do we seem to be preparing more sweets than usual, manufacturers are seeing a spike in consumer demand for comfort items like sweetened breakfast cereals, chocolate chips, vanilla, baked goods, dairy products, frozen pizza, and popcorn. Now that the kitchen table is shared by parents and kids, it appears that families are turning to familiar foods like sweetened breakfast cereals to instill a sense of normalcy.
While exercise is very good for our health, it is difficult to burn enough calories to offset a couple of homemade chocolate chip cookies, a brownie, or a cupcake. We would have to run two miles to make up for eating those little treats, and who among us would be willing or able to do that? Remember that controlling our weight is 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise, but we also need to acknowledge that it will require a concerted effort to out-exercise a comfort food diet.
Of course, we need to reserve judgment about gaining weight in challenging times like these, but let’s stop for a moment and think about what we are doing. The simplest way to keep ourselves and our family members at a healthy weight is to consider the types of foods we are preparing, and the quantities of food we are consuming. Sure, a small plate of spaghetti is comforting, but a big bowl full is probably enough for two people, or maybe even three!
If we take it easy now, we will be able to reap the benefits of a healthy weight in the future.
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