These are definitely unique times. There is a lot of uncertainty and change which can also lead to a lot of anxiety. But that doesn’t mean that your nutrition, your self-care, and your health focus need to disappear. In fact, they are probably even more important now! So, even though you are home, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy, take care of your body, and manage your weight. Here are my top tips to do all of the above:
1) Schedule Your Meals
Prior to the stay-at-home days, most of us had a more formal schedule. We left the house at a certain and came home at a certain time. This often meant that we had scheduled meal times. We would have each of our meals at a set time and that was that. Now, being at home, it is easy to become more lax about meal times, but that usually causes you to eat a lot more! Grazing through the kitchen numerous times a day and eating when you are not hungry, set you up for unhealthy outcomes. So, instead, consider implementing the same mealtime structure you had before. Schedule your meals and stick to it. Not only will it be good for you, it will also make your adjustment out of quarantine that much easier!
2) Keep Out Of The Kitchen
So, I just talked about scheduling your meals. Obviously you need to go into the kitchen for those. But other than that, the ideal situation is that you are not in the kitchen at all. Being in the kitchen is usually a cue for eating—whether you are hungry or not. And the more time you spend in there, the more likely you are to mindlessly open cabinets and start snacking. Instead, after each meal, clean up and ‘close’ the kitchen. Consider it closed (like a restaurant) until your next meal. This will help keep unnecessary snacking at bay.
3) Batch and Freeze
A lot of us are trying to limit the frequency of our grocery store visits. But that can be difficult if you rely on fresh produce for your cooking. It only lasts so long in the fridge, right? The best way to extend the shelf life of a lot of that produce is to batch cook with it and freeze it for later. That way you can have some tonight and some next week without worrying about food spoiling. Stews, casseroles, soups, and stir-frys can all be made with fresh produce and then frozen so you can reheat them after your fresh produce has run out.
4) Treat Yourself on Occasion
We all know that it’s much healthier to cook at home than to eat restaurant food. But that doesn’t mean you have to ALWAYS cook at home! It’s important to treat yourself every now and then. Not only does getting takeout help support your local restaurants but it allows you to splurge and avoid the feeling of restriction that comes with thinking, “I’m never allowed to eat out.” So, go ahead, allow a treat every now and then!
5) Keep Yourself Busy
One of the most common reasons people have for overeating right now is boredom. People are lacking routine (as I mentioned above), have considerably less to do, and find themselves turning to food to address that boredom. The problem with this is the treatment is very short-lived and it sets you up to keep doing it again, and again, and again….. So, you need to find some ways to address your boredom! Make a boredom list and fill it with all the things you’ve always wanted to do if you had time: learn a language, reorganize all your kitchen cabinets, write letters, paint or draw, stretch, make phone calls, clean out your closets, etc. Write it all out and then next time you find yourself feeling bored, go to your list instead of the kitchen!
The other most common reason people have for overeating right now is stress. Yes, it is a stressful time, but that doesn’t have to mean turning to food to manage our stress, especially because it doesn’t work! Food is only a distraction from stress and as soon as we are done eating, the stress comes right back! So, instead of turning to food, put together a solid stress management plan for yourself. Now stress management can mean different things to different people. For some it can be active, like going for a run or having an at-home dance party. For others, it can be relaxing, like taking a hot bath or doing some deep breathing exercises. Think about the things that make you feel good, make you feel calm and centered, or make you feel refreshed. Make a list of the things that come to mind. And then make a point to do at least one thing from that list every day!
7) Keep Water Handy
Yes, I talk about water all the time and right now is no exception! Keeping yourself hydrated is one the easiest and most effective ways to keep your body healthy, keep your immune system strong, and keep your weight managed. So, make sure you are drinking water all day every day! Keep a water bottle with you at all times to encourage sipping throughout your day. You can also try setting hourly water reminders or associating drinking water with something else you do throughout the day. Like maybe you drink a glass of water before you eat anything or after you go to the restroom. These cues can serve as useful reminders throughout the day.
So, make sure you are doing what you can to keep yourself healthy, keep your weight controlled, and keep your body happy! You will be glad you did!