How To Fuel Your Body During The Pandemic? Read Here
From the early days of the novel coronavirus induced lockdowns when the kitchen was the hub of all activity in every household, to getting worried about our unshapely bodies due to prolonged inactivity, we have come a long way in the past six months.
The pandemic has changed just about everything – the way we look at life, deal with people, and most importantly, it has shaped our eating pattern. What we eat and how we eat, has changed dramatically and so has the response to food and why we eat what we eat.
Here’s what Julie Lee, a New York-based dietician wrote in an article that appeared in ‘The Conversation’.
1. Eat like clockwork
Our bodies perform best when we have a routine. Since now there is no routine due to work at home, one should try to eat at around the same time each day. This will not only regulate hunger and fullness cues but also help in making mindful decisions about what and when to eat.
Here’s what you should do
- Aim to eat a balanced meal every three to four hours
- Add a snack when meals are more than five hours apart
- Include at least three food groups for a meal and two for a snack
- Try to include protein whenever you eat
- What will happen?
- Sticking to a regular schedule and eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day will help prevent excessive snacking at night
- If you feel hungry sooner than you plan to eat, have a small snack or adjust your mealtime
- By eating when you begin to feel hungry, you can avoid the urgent, frenzied eating triggered by your body as you get hungrier.
2. Make sleep a priority
Sleep quality and quantity are tied to the way we eat. A lack of sleep signals hunger, and lower amounts of leptin, the hormone that signals fullness.
There is also a correlation between poor sleep quality and quantity and enhanced reward response to food that is irresistible – salty, sweet, oily.
Here’s what you should do
- Practice good sleep habits
- Try going to bed and wake up at consistent times each day
- Put screens away an hour before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine eight hours before you go to sleep
3. Stock a nutritious pantry
Stocking up on nutritious foods that can be stored for several weeks is a good habit to be always prepared no matter what the situation. Once you have a lot of options, you can always think of innovative and healthy meals for yourself.
Brown rice, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, canned tuna, peanut butter and dried fruit are recommended.
4. Make use of the freezer
Since we don’t step out frequently now, it is not always possible to keep a ready stock of fresh fruits and vegetables because they tend to get spoilt fast.
What you can do
- Shop for produce that lasts longer such as carrots, potatoes, cabbage, apples, winter squash, oranges, clementines, yams, celery and sweet potatoes.
- Stock up on frozen vegetables and fruit if possible.
5. Be creative in your cooking
There are many ways to make balanced, nutritious meals by combining protein with a starch and a vegetable. Keep ideas and recipes that allow you to cook with what you have.
Challenge yourself to invent a meal based on ingredients available.
6. Pack a lunch
If you are not working from home, it is a good idea to pack your lunch in the morning. This will ensure that you have a nutritious meal.
7. Snack with intention
Many people tend to snack more when they are stressed. Make sure this food does not displace regular, balanced meals. To be more conscious about snacking, use a bowl or plate rather than eating directly out of a container. This helps you see how much you’re eating and can slow how quickly you eat.
8. Keep moving
Move your body when working from home or quarantining. It is more important than ever to have a consistent exercise routine. In addition to the numerous benefits of physical activity, including boosting your immune system, exercise can have a positive impact on how and what you eat.
A recent study published in the International Journal Of Obesity found that the more participants exercised, the more likely they were to eat nutrient-dense foods, like fruits and vegetables, rather than less nutritious snacks. People who exercise may be more likely to be motivated to fuel their body properly.