Why The Fuck Am I Eating So Much During Self-Isolation: A Reflective Food Diary

Life under lockdown has fucked me up in many unexpected ways.

One of the most noticeable changes is just how uncontrollably I’ve been eating since I stopped leaving the house.

I’m still eating standard portions of the three main meals of the day, but in between these I simply can’t stop grazing.

It’s like I just bounce from one snack to another. Apparently I need to be chewing on something in order to concentrate.

I decided to make a diary of what I ate in a single day to see reflect on just how gluttonous self-isolation has made me.

6:45 AM

Wake up, immediately run to the kitchen to eat a protein nut bar. I’ve never eaten protein nut bars in my life. I don’t need protein.

Help! 90% of my diet is contained within this single box!

Yet for some reason this is how I start every day in self-isolation. Typically I would have cereal or fruit on the way to work. But on the first day of iso, I found a box of these nut bars at home and now I can’t stop buying and devouring them.

Now, like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I can’t stop salivating at the thought of a protein nut bar as soon as I wake up. Some people need coffee to wake up, I need this.

7:20 AM

After showering: Weetbix with milk. Add a dash of chia seeds because they’re ~healthy~. This is pretty standard.

How many do I do? Just two. Baby portions, if you like. I may be eating more but my meals are not bigger than usual.

8:30 AM

Time for another protein nut bar. Different favour? Of course not. Peanut, cashew and chocolate all the way, please.

Wash it down with a glass of ice water. Cereal can trick you into feeling hydrated so it’s important not skimp on the H2O, especially when consuming copious amounts of nuts.

9:30 AM

I’ve just finished a meeting and the cravings have kicked back in. This time I run for the beef jerky.

Was this ever part of my diet? No. Have I ever had cravings for beef jerky? No. Had I ever purchased beef jerky before this whole pandemic? No.

The choice of doomsday preppers and… me when I’m on lockdown, apparently.

For some reason, my inner-doomsday prepper is forcing me to stock up on preserved foods to last out the pandemic.

Eating them immediately defeats the purpose of stocking up, but I’m doing it anyway. Can’t control those cravings.

11:00 AM

Did somebody say custard tarts? No? Well too bad because guess who’s having CRAVINGS again.

Look, they’re not homemade and they’re not from a fancy bakery, but supermarket custard tarts are still decent.

It’s important to balance out all the nuts and jerky with something a littler sweeter.

12:30 PM

Lunch time!

Now that I’m at home all day I’m eating way more leftovers. Often this is an upgrade from the lunch I’d usually buy, and the serving is a bit bigger too.

Today is an enormous bowl of fried rice. Gotta load up on carbs to last the rest of the day of doing fuck all.

I was a little heavy on the soy sauce when I made it, but all the good shit in it like prawns and egg more than make up for the saltiness.

1:00 PM

My tummy is already grumbling for more jerky, so time for round two. My teeth are starting to hurt from chewing so much, but the flavour is just so good.

It’s interesting how instead of having a mental breakdown, I’ve channeled that energy to become the biggest slut for jerky.

2:00 PM

I’m bored of jerky but still keen on preserved meat for some reason. I decide to gnaw on a stick of biltong. It helps me concentrate.

It looks and smells like a dog treat. Taste-wise, I can’t say for sure.

Eating it also makes me feel like a dog. I have to bend my neck to find the perfect gnawing angle, and I’m dribbling all over the place. Whatever – in the confines of my own home, no one can judge me for eating like the animal I am.

2:30 PM

Sorry but lunch was really good. Just gonna grab some more. A baby portion, if you will.

3:00 PM

There are biscuits in the pantry that should be in my stomach. Time to fix that.

I usually grab about five at a time. When you bake enormous batches of ANZAC biscuits, you can eat as much as you want without fear of running out. Betty Crocker is quaking.

4:30 PM

I need more nuts, but more than just a nut bar.

Let’s go for a big bowl of pistachios instead. Cracking them open is also a soothing activity to flex my motor skills during this endless quarantine.

7:30 PM

Dinner time!

*Kim K voice* Tonight I’m having tacos.

Soft tortillas (how authentic!), steak, onions, grated carrot (sacrilege, I know, don’t judge), cheese, guac, sour cream. Surely this is every layer of the food pyramid of something like that, right?

I had four very small baby tacos. It’s a portion size I’d normally eat.

8:30 PM

I would normally be raiding the fridge or freezer for anything sweet right now in the name of dessert.

But it turns out this the only time of the day I have far less cravings than usual. Perhaps it was all that shit I shoved down my gob earlier in the day.

By now I’m well and truly full.

So what’s up with that?

I don’t usually eat this much and I have no idea where the food is going, both physically and chemically.

Because I’m stuck at home, I’m expending less energy than ever. Judging by my new diet, I also seem to be consuming more energy than ever. Something’s gotta give.

“When we’re worried or frightened, we’re more likely to seek out sugars, fats, and carbs for a quick energy boost,” writes American psychotherapist Bryan E. Robinson.

“These comfort foods act like a natural tranquilizer that calms us down in times of peril.”

During stress, our bodies explode with hormones like cortisol, and glucose levels spike. To replenish these, our bodies suddenly crave sugary and fatty foods. That explains the nut bars and jerky.

Once the cortisol is replenished, it makes us crave even more sugary, fatty and salty foods. Just like that, we’re trapped in a vicious, albeit delicious, cycle.

But here’s the thing: I don’t feel stressed. I guess the food is doing its job after all.