You’ve seen the memes about putting on weight during the Covid-19 lockdown. You know, the one that jokes that you should put on your jeans at least once a week to see if they still fit. Or the one comparing “Fat Thor” and “Fit Thor” from the Avenger movies and asking which you plan to be once the quarantine is over.
These are great for a good laugh, but the truth is, no one is able to keep to a normal routine right now! Even people who are still leaving the house to go to work are not able to do any of their other normal activities.
For some, the lockdown does mean more free time to be able to exercise at home, go for walks, cook meals, and get more sleep. But it also means increased levels of stress, a disruption in routine, and, for many, perhaps less time to workout since kids are at home full-time as well.
What’s more, even people who normally eat healthy are having to improvise since some of their staples are sold out at stores. Not to mention that stress-eating and boredom-eating can hit anyone, especially when he is stuck at home more than usual.
So here’s our advice on healthy eating habits during the Covid-19 lockdown.
1. Stop feeling guilty!
Yes, you might gain weight. Yes, you might eat more processed food than is ideal. Guess what, you are still amazing and your body is incredible! This lockdown is an unprecedented event. Give yourself some grace.
Focus on your health, not on your waistline. Let food support you, not shame you. Now is no time to be beating yourself up about lack of progress in your fitness goals. Remember, fitness is a journey not a destination. This is a very unusual step in the journey. It’s not the end.
So leave out the guilt and shame and just do the best you can to nourish and support your body and immune system while stuck at home.
2. Start your meal with fresh fruits and veggies
Rather than thinking about what not to eat, think about what you love to eat that will also support your immune system. Spring means more fresh fruits and vegetables coming to the store. Start your meal with some of your favorites. Don’t have a favorite? Now’s the perfect time to experiment!
If you find yourself pressed for time or desire to prepare vegetables, get some bagged salads. Not only are they somewhat protected from germs on the store shelves, but they allow you to add flavor and variety to your meal with minutes of prep work. If you haven’t explored bagged salads in a while, they have come a long way in the last few years as far as variety, flavor, and freshness.
3. Grill your meat
Grilling meat is a great way to prepare it since it requires little fat or salt to get a fantastic flavor. If you are grilling outside in your yard, it’s also a chance for fresh air and vitamin D which can boost your immune system. But even a small kitchen grill gives you a healthy, quick way to prepare fresh meat without added fat or breading.
Grilled meat also makes fantastic leftovers for easy healthy meals throughout the week. Grilled chicken on a sandwich or salad makes a fast, healthy meal when you are bored with meal prep.
If you are doing take-out, try ordering grilled meat instead of fried some of the time.
4. Cook those beans
For a few weeks the shelves were empty of dried beans as everyone rushed to stockpile their pantries. But don’t worry, the stores are restocking so you can go ahead and cook some of them. Homemade beans are a fantastic healthy choice to build into your diet.
Beans can be incorporated into almost any meal: soups, salads, wraps, eggs, etc. Look up some recipes and experiment away with different spices, styles, and types of beans.
5. Don’t forget to hydrate
Drinking plenty of water has tremendous health benefits, including curbing cravings. No I’m not saying drink water instead of eating lunch. But If you find yourself bored-snacking between meals, cut a lemon slice into your water and see if that satisfies your need for flavor.
If you are buying soda or alcohol every week, or going through your stockpile too fast, maybe give yourself a daily or weekly max and stick to it. Be kind but firm with yourself with health as your goal.
6. Enjoy your treats
What’s become your go-to comfort food right now? Popcorn? Ice cream? Wine? Acknowledge it, enjoy it, but be sure you are in control rather than it controlling you.
Do you just need something salty? Try a nut mix instead of potato chips. Does your stress-eating lean more sweet? Get some dark chocolate to keep on hand instead of restocking the ice cream next time.
If you find yourself eating more pastas and breads in general, stop feeling guilty! Work on emphasizing the proteins and vegetables on your plate first, but you’re allowed to enjoy some comfort foods. Food is comforting for a reason. Just don’t let it control you.
7. Purposefully move and de-stress
Yes, technically those don’t fall in the category of healthy eating habits, but it all goes together! If you are not purposefully moving or dealing with your stress, you are going to look to food for those endorphins and probably not make healthy choices.
But, if you make sure you get some fresh air every day, walk around in the sun, do some exercise, stretching, meditation, or other forms of movement and relaxation, your body actually craves healthier, more supportive food and it becomes easier to make good food choices.
Let’s work together to find a new normal in the Covid-19 lockdown that doesn’t include guilt and shame. Allow food to comfort you sometimes, but also nourish you and build your immune system.
Keep moving, keep working on lowering your stress, and keep nourishing your body. And leave out the guilt!