Pandemic Eating 101

Last year I eschewed all sugar, sweeteners, carbs and gluten. If it wasn’t a protein or vegetable, I avoided it like the plague. (No pun intended.) When coronavirus culture hit in March, I found myself stress eating. Old me would have felt guilt and shame for falling into familiar, unhealthy patterns whilst quarantined. New me is embracing this dietary hiccup. In fact, here’s what I’ve learned on this pandemic junk food journey I’m on.

10) I have a penchant for sweets with weird names. Scotcheroos? Snickerdoodles? I can’t seem to get enough. Maybe I like the fact that it’s an empty-nutrient, caloric-bomb going off in my stomach. Or maybe it’s the sugar rush? Either way, both those desserts—that both feature stupid names—have shot to the top of my must-have list.

9) My grocery store ran out of milk a couple weeks ago for the first time in the history of the world. The only thing they had left was cream. I bought it. Believe you me, I’m never going back to 1%. I’m pouring cream in/on everything for the duration—cereal, coffee—it makes no difference.

8) Sourdough bread has become my savior. An eating disorder specialist I recently interviewed mentioned that during times of crisis, a “survival mode” instinct tends to kick in. We gorge ourselves now in case we have to starve later. She wasn’t kidding. I found it interesting. Even more interesting? I was eating a loaf of warm, sourdough bread slathered with butter DURING our interview. I’m not kidding either.

7) In 2019, I consumed nary an ounce of potatoes. This past month, I’ve eaten my weight in tater tots doused in copious amounts of salt. Nothing makes me happier or more content than tater tots. Fried, starchy, white vegetable by-product—for the win!

6) I have never been a fan of chocolate. Even during a global pandemic, that has remained consistent—although I did rediscover Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs over Easter.

5) Forget the bland leading the bland. I’m liberally dousing everything with hot sauce nowadays. The minute the pandemic hit, I suddenly needed Tabasco to get through the day. And I’m now consuming nearly half a jar of spicy salsa every 24 hours. Don’t judge. It’s practically a vegetable.

4) The volume of garlic I’m eating lately has increased 1,005%. I am now impervious to vampires—and at the rate we’re going, vampire attacks could be a big possibility.

3) The amount of coffee I’m drinking is staggering too. Granted, I’m surprised I’m not putting garlic in my coffee.

2) A friend of mine made the unholy, grievous mistake of bringing over Dunkin’ Donuts and tossing them on my doorstep one day last week. It awakened some sort of weird primordial urge to consume pastries covered in frosting. (See also #8)

And 1), you ask? I have come to the conclusion that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos can right all the world’s wrongs. I’m not sure if it’s the texture of said snack or the overwhelming spiciness (See # 5), but—holy hell—nothing brings me more joy than inhaling a bag or two—or ten. Do I need a sandwich to go along with the hyper-processed snack? Nope. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos has become a staple of mine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And, of course, in-between meal snacking. Duh.