Fridge fun – or is it?

My article in the JEP; summary: You can ignore the siren call of the fridge; here’s how.

During this Coronavirus Isolation Period, how’s your relationship with your fridge and pantry?

Do that beer, those cakes and crisps, and that left-over pizza call you like a siren song?

Judging by the messages I’m getting and the memes circulating on social media, quite a few of you are you getting to know your fridge rather more thoroughly than previously.

I can’t quote those private messages, but here are a few of the memes – do they resonate?

  • I stepped on my scales this morning and they said, ‘Use social distancing! One person at a time, please.’
  • Warning: wear your mask at home. This is not to avoid the virus; it’s to avoid the constant eating.
  • I need to practice social distancing from the fridge.
  • When you ask someone if their diet is going well while in isolation: Yes…
    …terday, I ate two whole pizzas.

…and so it goes on.

So, why do we have this fascination with the fridge (and probably the snacks cupboard too)? Boredom can be a driver (in which case, find structured things to do), but it’s in your DNA too!

Mother nature designed you to find sweet things, binge on them, and remember where you found them. She also makes you turn any excess sugar straight into fat.

This served your cave-dwelling ancestors nicely; they found the occasional source of honey and plenty of seasonal fruit.

That worked well, because eating a lot of sugar and starch in the autumn meant they built fat reserves to use through the winter when food was much harder to come by.

The problem is, we don’t have those seasonal fluctuations in carbohydrate-rich foods anymore, we don’t need to hike miles to get them, and we aren’t designed to be addicted to celery instead.

In addition, just like breast milk is designed to do, ‘comfort foods’ and flavoured lattes have the right carb-fat combo to induce repeated visits and weight gain.

We are also designed to eat food when we see it and to like variety, so if your belly fat is burgeoning, do these things:

Place the tempting things out of sight; better yet, don’t buy them in the first place.

Buy varieties of healthy foods, not crisps.

Visualise walking past the fridge, not to it.

Avoid posts on things people have baked!

Be self-aware: plan distractions.

And treat your fridge as an occasional friend, not an intimate lover.

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