Are you making healthy choices in quarantine? The “freshman 15” is a notorious type of weight gain, but the “quarantine 15” may now be taking hold over society as boredom eating becomes a new form of entertainment. Homemade meals are likely to be healthier than meals out, but not if they’re sandwiched by multiple snacks and no activity!
Seeing as how we’re in the midst of a deadly pandemic, no one should be too worried about their weight (although I’m sure many of us still are). Still, eating healthy is important for your overall health. It will boost your immunity to avoid getting sick and if you do get sick, it may help you overcome it. Possibly an even more important effect that diet has is on mood. In this time, it is more important than ever to tend to our mental state. Eating healthy will help not only your body, but also your brain!
My first tip for eating healthy in quarantine is to make healthy substitutions. If you find yourself drinking an unnecessary amount of coffee, why not try tea? Tea is great for metabolism and sickness, and there are calming varieties that may be very helpful (check out Yogi Tea). I would also recommend substituting that second serving of bread or pasta for another egg or slice of meat. In terms of boredom eating, carbs are all the rage, but they won’t keep you full like protein will. Although carbs are necessary for energy, the majority of people’s energy expenditure in quarantine is far less than in regular life.
My second tip for healthy eating in quarantine is to listen to your body—it knows what you need! I’m not talking about listening to your body’s urge to scoop a bowl of ice cream; that is your brain’s desire. Your body will tell you when you are hungry. There is certainly no need to starve, but gorging yourself when you aren’t hungry will only cause more pain in the long run. Additionally, listening to your body can cut down on food waste and grocery trips.
Speaking of grocery trips, my third tip is to set yourself up for success. This seems obvious, but if you buy a cart full of junk food, you’re going to end up eating a cart full of junk food! Of course you should get some treats and comfort food, but there has to be a limit. Make sure to throw in some vegetables and fruits, and take it easy on the frozen meals; this can be difficult, but now is a great time to learn some new recipes. If you are going to go for frozen foods, then I highly recommend Trader Joe’s. They have lots of healthy, delicious options at reasonable prices.
A fourth tip is that diet isn’t everything. Sometimes, while adhering to my second tip of listening to my body, I find that I have no appetite and I never get hungry. This is when I know it’s past time to introduce some exercise. Some people are a fan of home workouts, and this is an excellent choice. Personally, I always choose a long walk or a run into the mountains by my house. Exercising is a bigger part of diet than you may imagine; it pushes you to fuel your body in healthy and rewarding ways.
My fifth and final tip for eating healthy in quarantine is actually a tip about when to not eat healthy, by giving yourself things to look forward to. This is best illustrated with an example. My weakness is dessert; I have a hard time feeling satisfied after eating a meal if I don’t end it with something sweet. This can snowball with larger and larger desserts after each dinner, and I can soon be eating way more sugar than I should be. A way that I control my cravings is actually by allowing them, in the form of rewards that I look forward to. Last weekend, my sister made the most delicious cake for Easter. I am thoroughly enjoying a slice of that cake each day, but when it runs out, I will not go back to my freezer ice cream, because it looks less appetizing in comparison to the satisfaction I had from the cake. In another week, I will bake a dessert that I will enjoy as much as I loved the cake—I have my eye on the cookie recipe that Doubletree released for my next one. This way, I satisfy my cravings with things that I deem worthy, and I take breaks in between.
These are strategies that I have found helpful, and hopefully a few of them will help you too. All in all, your happiness is most important!