For most of us, including myself, the first question that pops out of my head right after I open my eyes in the morning is… WHAT SHOULD I EAT TODAY? With the limited fresh supply and food we have at home to last for 14days, I bet many of us have been cracking our heads on what to make to fill up our bellies. Especially when you’re not a very good cook. Yup, I feel ya. Yet from time to time, we just can’t help but to have food cravings. Eating anything will suffice when we’re hungry but what makes cravings unique is how specific they are. Let’s take a look at cravings from the psychological perspective, especially during this MCO period:
1. Covid-19, MCO, staying at home… That’s A LOT of emotions going on.
It’s been 6 days, we’re at home 24/7, binge watching Netflix and getting the latest updates of what’s happening outside from social media, online news, and all we see is… the number of new cases coming up everyday, people going to multiple places trying to get hold of basic necessities like a loaf of bread and a tray of eggs. This leads to a rise of stressful mixed emotions in many of us. Our body then produces higher levels of stress hormone, cortisol.
With all these going on, food on the other hand, brings us comfort, at least in the short term. Cortisol triggers our cravings for salty, sweet and fried foods, usually things that give you energy and pleasurable feelings to counter the stress your body is experiencing. The more uncontrolled stress you are experiencing in your life, the more likely you’ll find yourself munching and binging on snacks and food for the unconscious emotional relief. Which, in the current situation, none of us know when this will be over and if we will have to stay at home for a longer period of time. This probably explains the never ending crave for certain food and feeling hungry all the time.
2. You are “VISUALLY HUNGRY”
Yup, you read it right.
Some researchers have proposed that we humans have this natural urge and desire, to LOOK AT FOOD, in which they call visual hunger. This could probably be an evolutionary adaptation humans developed because our brains have learned that there will be a reward coming up after craving for food. The more you look at pictures of a particular food, it gives your brain the message that you’ll be eating that soon enough. As food provides nutrients for survival, our body would prepare themselves to receive that food.
A good example would be DALGONA COFFEE. Been appearing on instagram stories for days and guess what? Bet some of us just couldn’t help but to give it a try… right?
Me too, here’s a photo of my attempt: 🙂
3. Food cravings can be disruptive at times.
You probably had that time where you’re craving for pizza so badly you just couldn’t seem to focus on work. Studies have shown that when people crave a specific food, they tend to have vivid images of that food appearing in their heads. Such mental imagery (imagining food or other stuff) actually takes up a lot of mental resources, or what people usually call brain power. Some people struggle to focus on work and tasks when they are craving for food because as they are imagining a specific food, much of their brain power is focused on that food as compared to what they need to do.
So… what can we do?
Apparently, according to research, attempted restriction or deprivation of a particular food is associated with an increase in craving for the unavailable food. So, let’s not stop these craving entirely. Roll up your sleeves and try to come up with a similar close alternative during this MCO period might be a good idea too! Work around with whatever you can find at home 🙂 Well, personally Youtube is my current best friend when it comes to preparing meals and fixing my cravings (trying to come up with a healthier version of it of course), as I try to avoid leaving the house and ordering delivery. Or, if you have food delivery currently available in your area, maybe ordering delivery would help fix that craving of yours!
Last but not least, fixing cravings aside, let’s not forget to MOVE. Be it taking a daily tour from your bed to every single corner of your house, or a short cardio session by yourself. Let’s not end up being a walking Snorlax by the end of this 14 days alright?
Stay at home, stay safe, and see you soon! 🙂
Emotional Eating. (2020, February 16). Retrieved March 23, 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/emotional-eating.htm
Spence, C., Okajima, K., Cheok, A. D., Petit, O., & Michel, C. (2016). Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation. Brain and Cognition, 110, 53–63. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.08.006
Be❦Live In Psychology is a mental health clinic at Ecosky, Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur. Our services consist of therapy, assessment and training. WhatsApp us at +6018 – 206 7313 to make an appointment.
Evelyn interns at Be❦Live in Psychology. She graduated with a Bachelor of Psychological Science (HELP-Flinders). Apart from psychology, Evelyn has a strong passion in dance and working with children and youths.