How Coronavirus Has Changed Our Shopping Habits

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Shopping habits have changed dramatically since the appearance of COVID-19 and the subsequent scramble to socially distance and protect ourselves.  Grocery stores and retail pharmacies now have plexiglass shields at the checkout stands, and there are shoe stickers on the floors as visual reminders of the six foot distance we are urged to keep from each other.

Malls are nearly empty, and many merchants haven’t even dared open their doors.  The days when you could just hop over to a local store and pick up a couple of items have been replaced with long lines of people waiting to get in, and staple items which are perpetually low in stock or completely depleted.  Let’s not forget about all that toilet paper hoarding which defined the earlier part of 2020.

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The new normal when it comes to consumer spending is largely confined to purchasing only the essentials, but there has also been a peculiar yet predictable surge in what can reasonably be described as online retail therapy.  Since we’ve basically been forced to become homebodies, our shopping preferences have changed to reflect this lifestyle shift.  Online streaming services have increased dramatically in popularity, as people search for shows and films to chew up some of their time at home.

Industries which have seen an uptick in their sales since the global pandemic hit include food delivery and takeout services, alcohol, exercise equipment, health supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer, and beauty and wellness products.

Some people have been compelled to stock up on bundles of essentials like pasta, toilet paper and the like, while others have fallen into the habit of purchasing unnecessary items, perhaps a long coveted item which was purchased with the attitude, life is short, might as well buy it.

The following excerpt from an article by Leanne Italie is an excellent description of the purchasing habits which many of us might find ourselves falling into as this lockdown continues:

“Shopping as therapy has been shown to reduce negative moods and boost overall happiness,” he said. “The big downside, however, is that such relief is very short-lived. That good feeling very quickly dissipates.”

Mr. Galak said some research points to “shopping while bored” as a variation with less emotional payout.

“Browsing for things that one doesn’t need fills the time and then clicking `buy now’ just naturally follows,” he said. “Consumers may find themselves on page 20 of a search result for a new pair of shoes, a place that when engaged and not bored, they would never reach.”

Jennifer Salgado, 42 of Bloomfield, N.J., is a shopper with many heads these days.

“Resourceful me has purchased: a pasta roller and drying rack, because now I’m Ina Garten; stuff to make hand sanitizer, because I’m now a chemist; and dog nail clippers that my 76-pound bulldog noped out of real fast and is now looking like Snooki from the ‘Jersey Shore,’” she said.

There’s also “luxurious me,” Ms. Salgado said, snapping up 96 macarons from a bulk-buying store, along with the Jennifer who needed 24 pounds of frozen peas.

“Most of the time, I forget what’s coming,” she said, echoing others who accepted long delivery dates out of fear. “And most of the time, I realize I never really needed these things in the first place.”

Kellie Flor-Robinson of Silver Spring, Md., just may be a combination of all of the above.

“I ordered a case of Moet,” she said. “I’m not sure that it was an accident, though — this thing has me buggy.”

 

 

Life Is Never Boring

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Any time I hear someone complain about how predictable, steady and boring life is, I chuckle, because I have never been able to make that statement about my own life. This doesn’t mean that my life is unstable, but that I have always had so much going on that there hasn’t been time for boredom to set in. I truly am CONSTANTLY doing something, and I have a habit of packing a lot into each day. I understand that some people are stuck in boring jobs, so I am thankful that I love being a physician, and love the environments in which I work. I am fortunate to be involved in pursuits which I am passionate about, and which give me an incredible sense of fulfillment. Whether I am doctoring, writing articles, modeling, doing booth work, creating nutrition and workout regimens, or working on business strategies or branding, so much is going on inside my head that I couldn’t possibly get bored.

I will admit that aspects of my regular daily routine could be seen by others as a bit dull, since I head to the gym around the same time, and I usually spend weeknights writing. However, I typically cram so much stuff in between those activities that I spend the entire day rushing around, trying to get it ALL done. The overachiever in me can’t seem to let go of the notion that the best days are the ones in which all the important items on the to do list are checked off. Even on the weekends, I spend the majority of my time trying to catch up on articles and plans which I wasn’t able to get to during the week.

Another feature of my life is that I wear so many hats that I have to constantly shift gears. Though it puts a lot of pressure on me, I prefer to have a lot of variety in my day, talking about medicine, fitness, skincare, nutrition, and business. My nerves can get pretty frazzled from the endless list of things to do, but I know I wouldn’t be able to deal with sitting around all day with nothing to do. I think partially because I have chosen a number of very interesting fields to pursue, and partially because I seem to attract a lot of movement and energy, circumstances also seem to keep me on my toes, and also keep boredom at bay. About 25 years ago, I remember someone telling me that I moved at a high “burn rate”, that my spirit had a lot of karmic energy which would attract lots of activity and movement. Despite its mystical tone, the statement struck me, and I can honestly say that it fits the cadence of my entire life.

If you find that you are bored with your life, it’s time to examine what might be holding you in a rut. Maybe you watch a lot of television. If so, turn off the television and read a good book. If it has been months or even years since you exercised, join a gym and commit to a regular workout schedule. Go out with friends. If you have pockets of time in which you are looking for things to do, try exploring your city or town by visiting other neighborhood stores, parks and restaurants. Cultivate a new hobby. Volunteer.

You can turn a boring life into a fulfilling, fun, exciting one by doing new things. Have fun!

How Emotional Eating Can Derail You From Your Fitness Goals

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Rather than discuss well-known emotional eating disorders such as bulimia, I will concentrate on binge eating which many women engage in from time to time.  It is important to recognize this behavior if it becomes a regular pattern, because frequent emotional eating warrants a diagnosis of binge eating disorder and requires treatment and intervention.

Binge eating is characterized by eating compulsively to cope with negative emotions and stressful situations.  A binge eater is rarely hungry when she begins to eat and will continue to eat well after she is full.  Such episodes can last for up to two hours or can occur off and on throughout the day.  The binger feels guilty both during and after the episode, but will not attempt to counteract it by fasting, taking laxatives, vomiting, fasting or over-exercising.  A strong lack of self-control as well as feelings of shame will accompany this behavior pattern.  There is a strong association between binge eating and depression.  Binge eating is also driven by social components such as social pressure to be thin, emotional and sexual abuse, parental criticism of a child’s weight, and the use of food as reward or punishment.

Food cravings are usually the strongest when you are in emotional crisis.  You may reach for food for comfort or to serve as a distraction.  Consider the following highly stressful events and think about whether you reached for comfort foods during such times:

  • Financial problems
  • Health problems
  • Work issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Fatigue
  • Family issues

Though some people will lose their appetites when stressed and will refrain from eating, many others will engage in impulsive eating in an effort to deal with negative emotions.  This may be relatively harmless if such emotional eating occurs on a very rare occasion, but becomes a serious problem when it is used as the only coping mechanism for stressful situations or negative emotions.  Just bear in mind that if you have a rare moment of weakness, it is important to recognize it as just that and to prevent yourself from spiraling into excessive feelings of guilt over the incident.  If you engage in an episode of emotional eating, learn to forgive yourself and have a fresh start the following day.

 
Why We Engage in Emotional Eating

 

What occurs almost invariably when we eat emotionally is that we turn to cookies, cakes, candy, fried foods and breads rather than to healthy foods.  There is a biochemical basis for such behavior.  Carbohydrates which are high in sugar or fat release dopamine in our brains which in turn stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, creating a sense of euphoria.  These foods are usually associated with pleasurable memories, such as cake which you may have looked forward to on your birthday, or macaroni and cheese as a treat after school when you were a child.

 

Food can also serve as a happy distraction from conflict or stressful events by stimulating the aforementioned pleasure centers.  What will frequently occur is that an excessive amount of these foods will be consumed.  However, if you remain aware of such automatic connections between food and mood and realize when you are eating for reasons other than hunger, you can break this cycle and get back on track with healthy eating habits which are associated with true hunger.

 

How To Combat Emotional Eating

 

  • Keep a food diary.  Get in the habit of writing down everything you eat and drink, including the quantity, the times at which you eat, your emotional state while eating the meal, and your level of hunger.  By doing this you may see patterns which will reveal your emotional relationship with food.

 

  • Remove tempting foods.  Avoid stocking comfort foods in your home if you find that they are difficult to resist.  And by all means avoid making trips to the grocery store if your emotions are spiraling out of control!

 

  • Practice stress management.  Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques are effective methods of managing your stress.

 

  • Determine whether you are truly hungry.  Many times people may believe they are hungry when in reality they are actually emotionally distraught and desperately searching for a way to defuse such emotions.

 

  • Make sure you consume adequate calories.  Individuals who are trying to lose weight will often restrict their calorie intake too much, and will turn to the same foods in an effort to remain on track without rewarding themselves with an occasional treat.  Adding variety to your meal plan will also help to keep you on track.

 

  • Distract yourself.  If you get an urge to snack when you aren’t truly hungry, distract yourself by watching a movie, calling a friend, reading, listening to music, or taking a walk.

 

  • Consume healthy snacks.  If an urge to snack between meals strikes, choose a low-calorie snack such as vegetables with seasoned nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, low fat cottage cheese or rice cakes.

 

  • Get enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an important component in decreasing cravings for comfort foods.

 

  • Eat at regular intervals.  Consume smaller meals every three to four hours to keep you from feeling hungry or deprived.

 

  • Focus on the experience of eating.  Learn to eat in a mindful manner, in which you pay attention to your meal and only your meal.  Become aware of the sensations associated with eating.

 

  • Reward yourself.  It is both physically and emotionally unhealthy to practice excessive calorie restriction for prolonged periods.  Allow yourself to have a favorite food or meal once each week.

 

  • Connect with your emotions.  When a food craving hits during an emotional time, write down the emotions you are experiencing, such as sadness, loneliness or anger.

 

  • Seek professional help if emotional eating is frequent.  There are countless support groups which you can join which will help you to develop insight as well as the skills to avoid engaging in such behavior.

 

One last note: make sure to get vital nutrients into your diet on a daily basis. I recommend taking a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption, and my favorite is SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber. SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin delivers high bioavailability on a three time dosing regimen each day and is suitable for everyone, but it is especially great for individuals who tend to experience intestinal discomfort from multivitamin formulas.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx