You may have heard of the “freshman 15”, describing the 15 pounds college freshman supposedly put on during their first year away at college, but there is a new term buzzing around, the “quarantine 15” which applies to all of us quarantined at home and in close proximity to our pantries.
The combination of the stress of the uncertainty of COVID-19 and being cooped up at home makes the munchies even worse. And starchy carbohydrates like crackers, cookies and other baked goods can be a source of comfort in a time of crisis. Here are some tips to avoid stress eating, improve your mood and make healthier choices without tipping the scale:
Don’t stress about your diet or your weight. In these uncertain times the last thing you want to do is add extra stress to your life. There are already too many other things causing us stress right now. Now is the time to take care of yourself, not beat yourself up.
Keep a regular schedule. Try to go to bed and get up in the morning at the same times every day. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at regular times and if you need a snack plan a time between meals when you will have it. Don’t graze all day on snacks without a routine.
Buy better foods to have on hand.
Keep your pantry stocked with fewer processed, high-salt or high-sugar snack foods and put more produce in your fridge. Some foods that have been shown to have some mood-boosting effects are avocados, nuts, salmon, sweet potatoes and chia seeds.
Become more aware of your emotions. If you are bored find something to do that keeps you busy. If you feel stress or anxiety try meditation or go for a relaxing walk outdoors. Sometimes identifying your feelings is the hardest part. Try to be more aware.
Stay in touch with family and friends. Touch base through phone calls, video chats and virtual happy hours. Keep your support system going.
Move. Exercise is critical for both mental and physical health. Go for a brisk walk, hop on your bike or try a new online class. You might find something new that can be long-lasting.
Try this Easy Chia Pudding for a mood-boosting snack or breakfast.
Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian and owner of KC Nutrition Coach, online nutrition and fitness coaching. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org