By Beth Lipton, Health Coach
You don’t need me to tell you how stressful the situation we’re in now is. We’re all living with it and coping as best we can. What we eat has the power to ease or exacerbate our stress, so here are a few strategies to help keep you well and calm.
Watch out for stress eating: I’ve seen a lot of talk around social media about stress eating, and it’s completely understandable why this is happening—especially if you’re bored, which can make it even worse. If you’ve been stress eating, no judgment. We’re just at the beginning of this quarantine, so it’s the best time to get yourself set up with healthy habits. The best defense against stress eating is noticing when you’re doing it (or, ideally, when you’re about to do it). Every time you go to eat something outside of meal times, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” Check in with how your body is feeling. If you are hungry, note the sensations in your body, how your stomach feels (and if you’re truly hungry, have a snack—something with vegetables, protein and healthy fat, like sliced vegetables with a hard-boiled egg). If you’re not sure, or you find you aren’t actually hungry, engage yourself in an activity that isn’t eating. I recommend making a list of tasks you’ve been wanting to accomplish for a while and referring to it in these moments, instead of turning to TV or social media, which invite snacking. Clean out a closet, FaceTime a friend or loved one, organize some area of your home. Engage in something that requires your brain and ideally your hands, too.
Eat nourishing foods. You know that to stay well, you need foods that are good for you, with plenty of nutrients. Eat plenty of vegetables, healthy fats and protein—grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and eggs, wild-caught fish. If you don’t eat animal protein, whole grains and beans in combination are fine. Avoid snack foods like chips and puffs (even organic ones, and ones that say they have a serving of vegetables), and really watch out for sweets. A little something is fine, like a piece of dark chocolate. But sugar is an enemy to your immune system, and none of us needs that right now. If you’re “corona baking,” stick to recipes that sweeten with fruit like bananas, apples and dates, or that rely on just a touch of natural sweetener like maple syrup or honey. Utilize recipes that are lower in empty carbs like white flour. (Shameless plug: I post recipes like this free all the time on my Instagram.) Not only will sticking to whole, nourishing foods help you stay well, you’ll also feel so. Much. Better.
Order in sometimes… but have it steamed. I’m in favor of supporting restaurants by ordering in some meals right now. Your best bet is to order your food steamed and add your own seasonings/sauces. Restaurants often use low-quality vegetable oils, because they’re less expensive—but those oils are highly inflammatory to the body and can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated. It’s not as sexy getting food delivered that’s steamed, but it can make a real difference in how you feel—plus, you want to avoid unnecessary inflammation as much as possible while we’re all vulnerable. We all know to avoid processed foods—you’ll be hard-pressed to find one more processed than vegetable oils. Avoid them whenever you can, starting with takeout.
I hope these tips are helpful to you, and that you stay well and safe throughout the crisis.
– Beth Lipton, Health Coach