Struggling with over-eating amidst COVID-19? You’re not alone.

More time at home has meant more opportunity to snack and self-soothe through food to compensate for the stress and uncertainty coronavirus has created.

To support people to reshape their eating habits, PACE has invited psychotherapist and mind and body coach Nikki Lucas to present her 6 Steps to Conscious Eating webinar on Thursday, May 21, at 6pm.

The aim is to help people to understand patterns of eating in order to regain a sense of control and acceptance.

“I have endured many decades of struggle with my own poor relationship with food and body including severe binge eating,’’ Nikki says.

“This led me to study and understand why our relationship with food becomes distorted, and how to reduce its negative impact on our lives.”

The webinar will run for 90 minutes, including question time. To register, email

PACE Support Worker Astrid Welling says people often use food as a coping mechanism in stressful times, leading to feelings of shame or embarrassment for eating too much or too little.

This can come at the expense of self-kindness, which is crucial for emotional wellbeing.

“I’ve had countless people tell me they struggled with over-eating before COVID but more so now, and it’s causing them some distress,’’ Astrid says.

“Whether it’s through boredom, convenience or comfort, we are eating more than we usually would, but we shouldn’t punish ourselves for that.”

“Eating to self-soothe is a normal response. If you’ve put on a couple of kilograms over the past couple of months, it’s ok – you needed that comfort.”

“Gaining weight is not the issue; it’s the shame that follows. Attaching our value and self- esteem to our weight is something our culture has taught us to do from birth.”’

PACE currently runs two recovery support groups for people who struggle with eating, food and body image, in addition to providing one-on-one support.


Astrid’s tips for conscious eating


Practice consciously eating and think about why you eat

“What we end up doing is mindlessly eating,’’ Astrid says. “There are underlying reasons for that which take time to address.”

Reflect! Use COVID-19 as an opportunity to ask yourself: Why do I self-sooth externally? Are there new ways I can self-soothe internally?’


Break the habit

When you feel the urge to over-eat, try to be mindful in that moment.

Ask yourself: Am I hungry, or am I bored, angry, and sad?

There are ways of getting through this discomfort, such as counting and breathing through it.

The urge will pass. It’s a similar process to trying to quit smoking, or drinking, or the things you habitually do and want to change.

Ride the compulsion wave to break its hold.


Set a schedule

Make time to eat. Set an alarm if need be!

Conversely, those who don’t have good hunger cues may lean towards not eating in times of stress.

If you have to, make a note in your electronic diary to block out times to eat each day.

“It sounds a bit contrived, but when we lose our internal hunger cues, we need some regular external reminders to eat, and that’s ok,” Astrid says.


Shift your focus

Look at food differently.

View food as medicine during this time.

Make time to eat in a mindful, slower way.

Focus on health rather than calories.