Have you heard of the quarantine 15? Or as some are calling it, the covid 19? Social media is abuzz with memes making fun of the 15 or so extra pounds we might all gain while riding out the coronavirus (COVID-19) stay-at-home period. Of course, this pandemic is nothing to joke about, and well, either is the size of anyone’s body. Indulging in the foods that give us comfort right now is nothing to be ashamed of (we’re all doing it), but there are a few things we can do to make sure that we stay as healthy as possible given our current cooped-up situation.
While it is certainly not the best time to start a new, restrictive diet, nutritionist Aubrey Phelps says there is a way to find a dietary balance during this crazy time. Below she shares a few small tips to make sure we can still fit into our jeans once we emerge on the other side.
Say Yes to Fruits and Veggies
Phelps says it is important to include either a fruit or vegetable with every meal and/or snack. “Fruits and veggies are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals,” she explains. They also may help to decrease your snack frequency because they are “a great source of fiber, which helps keep you full longer.” Go ahead and reach for the chips if you must, but try to eat some strawberries first. You may surprise yourself and skip the chips altogether.
Say No to Eating Out of the Container
It is so much easier to grab a bag of Doritos and bring them to the couch while binging Netflix (and Doritos), but regardless of what you’re eating, Phelps says you should always put an appropriate portion of your snack into a separate dish. “When we eat from the container, it’s easy to over-consume, especially when sitting in front of the TV or computer screen,” she says. “When we portion out our food it helps to prevent over-indulging mindlessly.”
Make a Meal Plan
Phelps suggests planning at least five dinners for the week ahead. “Post your meal plan on the fridge and stick to it!” This may prevent you from excessively ordering takeout (although it’s good to support small businesses when you can) and ensures that you stick to at least one nutritious meal each day. Keep your meals balanced with lean protein, veggies, and healthy fats.
Go Easy On The Carbs
“Carbohydrates are an important part of the diet, but when consumed in excess or without a good protein or fat source, they lead to spikes in blood sugar which can increase bodily inflammation, sugar cravings, hunger, and lower the immune response,” says Phelps. “Try to focus on fruits and vegetables as your carbohydrate sources and limit things like pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, etc.” Of course, if it is a special occasion of any kind, go for the cake.
We all know that drinking water is so important to our overall health, but it can be hard to get in enough each day. Phelps suggests getting creative with your water intake — herbal teas are a great option.” So how do you know if you are drinking enough water? The answer is in your urine. “Aim to get sufficient water, herbal tea, bone broth, etc. so your urine is pale yellow or clear,” says Phelps.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
This is a lesson we can carry on to all areas of our lives right now. “This is an unprecedented time,” says Phelps. “Sometimes comfort food is just exactly what the soul needs. Don’t beat yourself up. Try to make healthy choices that will nourish the body most of the time (80 percent), and foods that nourish the soul some of the time (20 percent).”
If following all of these tips is too much too soon, start small. Try one modification each week and experiment with how they improve your overall well-being. The goal is not to look good, but to feel good — even during a quarantine!