It is no secret that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has forced us to spend more time at home, where our kitchen is only a few steps away at all times. There are many reasons that maintaining a healthy diet can fall by the wayside during a time like the present. Financial distress and supermarket availability can affect the foods that we buy. Stress, anxiety, fear, and boredom may cause us to reach for unhealthy comfort foods, and it is easy to fall into a pattern of overeating.
Despite the new challenges that we face every day, it is important to remind ourselves of the importance of eating right. A healthy diet can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and help you to feel more energized and productive. Below are some tips to help you stick to a healthy diet and avoid the “Quarantine 15”, the 15-pound weight gain during self-isolation.
Focus on Eating a Balanced Diet
- Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein into your diet to ensure that you are eating a balanced diet.
- Examples of healthy whole grains include brown rice, whole grain pasta, and oats
- Some healthy sources of protein include lean meats like chicken and turkey, seafood, beans, and nuts and seeds.
- Find ways to sneak vegetables into your meals, such as adding them into an omelet or tossing them into a pasta sauce.
- To incorporate fruits into your diet, try adding berries to your morning yogurt or oatmeal or chopping up an apple to top your salad at lunch.
- Make healthy substitutions. For example, instead of using a heavy salad dressing, try using a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano.
Drink Enough Water
- While not everyone may need to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water each day, it is important to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water can also help suppress your appetite, making you less likely to eat when you are not actually hungry.
Plan your Meals
- Having increased access to your kitchen doesn’t mean that you should stop planning your meals ahead of time. Having a healthy lunch that is already prepared and waiting for you in the refrigerator will prevent you from reaching for a bag of chips or box of cookies at lunchtime.
- Use increased free time to find and prep healthy recipes for dinner. Make a plan at the beginning of the week and stick to it. Writing down what you plan to have for dinner each night can help you to keep your diet on track and spend less money at the grocery store or on take-out.
Pay Attention to What your Body is Telling You
- Are you really hungry, or are you reaching for a snack out of boredom? When you feel the urge to eat something, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re actually hungry.
- To defeat cravings, get up and move your body. If you find yourself craving something unhealthy, stand up and do some jumping jacks or walk around the house a few times. This can help take your mind off your craving.
Find an Outlet
- If you find yourself feeling stressed, worried, or anxious, it is important to find an outlet. Some ideas include going for walks or runs outside, doing online exercise videos, drawing or painting, reading, journaling.
- Make time to do something that makes you feel good.
Don’t Keep Snacks Near Your Desk
- Minimize mindless snacking by making sure food is not readily available at your desk. As they say, out of sight, out of mind.
Practice Mindful Eating
- Eat without distractions. Put down your cell phone, turn off the TV, and focus on enjoying the food you are eating.
- Eat slowly and pay attention to your body’s cues that you are full. When we are distracted, we are more likely to overeat.
Download an App or Recruit a Friend to Help Keep You Accountable
- Apps like My Fitness Pal and LifeSum allow you to track your daily food intake. Counting calories is not for everyone, but keeping a log of what you have eaten during the day may help raise awareness about what you are eating and help you to practice mindful eating.
- If you don’t want to use an app, recruit a friend to help keep you accountable.
We hope these tips help you stick to a healthy diet and avoid the “Quarantine 15” during self-isolation. Continue to have optimism, self-compassion and a positive attitude, these mindsets will be crucial and can help you face uncertain times.
If you think you need additional assistance with your nutrition program, our registered dietitian, Casey Miller can help. Her expertise, training, and credentials are vital for promoting positive lifestyle choices in order to achieve your health and wellness goals. You can request an appointment by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at 301-948-4395.