Every time you turn on the news these days, you can’t help feeling a bit helpless and out of control. Eating during stressful times can also be a vicious cycle. The more worried you are, the more you choose comfort foods full of unhealthy fats and sugar. It then follows that the more unhealthy foods you eat, the more anxious you become. As hard as it may seem, however, you can make the decision to take control of your body to keep it healthy and strong. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to eat healthy foods and get some form of exercise to keep your immune system in top shape.
Eat Healthy Foods
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published some nutritional advice to help people in these uncertain times. They recommend the following guidelines:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. If fresh produce is in limited supply, canned or frozen options without added sugar are a good option. Plus, they will last longer than fresh varieties. Four servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables are recommended each day.
- Choose healthy proteins. Chicken, fish and turkey have a high protein content with less fat than red meat. Limit red meat to once or twice a week.
- Whole grains and nuts add fiber to your diet. Nuts are also high in protein.
- Drink plenty of water. You should follow this routine during normal times, but it’s more important now than it ever was to keep hydrated. You should drink at least 8 to 10 cups of water per day. You can substitute fruit juices with no added sugar, coffee and tea for part of the water, but avoid sugary soft drinks and juices. You should also limit the amount of caffeine you drink to only a couple of cups each day.
- Limit the amount of processed foods you eat. These options typically have a lot of added salt, sugar, fats and other unhealthy additives.
- When you do want a snack, go for a healthy option. If you crave something sweet, choose a piece of fruit or a bowl of berries. If salt is what you crave, eat a handful of nuts. It’s a smart idea, though, to measure out one serving of nuts and stick to eating just that. Having a nourishment safety net can help if you are anxious about overeating. Keep your body nourished with foods that feel good.
Keep a Meal Routine
It can be tempting to snack throughout the day when you are home all of the time. Harvard’s School of Public Health recommends sticking to a set meal schedule. If you eat dinner at the table with the whole family at approximately the same time each day, it will reduce the urge to snack whenever you feel like it. Getting everyone in the house together at mealtime is also good for your mental well-being. Put the smartphones and tablets away and just talk with each other about light and fun things. You may see your family members in a whole new light.
Planning a self care nourishment plan is also helpful during stressful times. Decide in advance what you will tentatively eat for each meal that day.
If you have kids, now is a great time to get them interested in cooking. Kids as young as 3 can help mix batter and stir sauces. Older kids can measure ingredients and chop veggies, with a bit of adult supervision at first. The more kids help prepare meals now, the healthier options they will choose as adults since they will be less apt to grab those processed foods.
Keeping active is a great stress reducer. For some, dealing with the gym being closed is making the situation even more stressful. If you have an exercise bike or treadmill, you can still get a great workout. Even without those options, you can find an exercise routine online to follow. Depending on your local guidelines, you can also still take walks or go for a jog as long as you keep a safe distance from others.
Even though it seems right now that this craziness will never end, remember the wise advice of your grandma, “This, too, shall pass.” Stay safe!