First off, like everyone I listen to the news and am horrified at the crisis that unfolds in front of us. Half the people I know have or have had the virus and two of my friends lost one parent to COVID-19. But I also have a lot of friends and clients who are safely home and staying protected. I’m thankful for their health and patience. It keeps them alive.
I’ve received many emails about how hard it is to be home, do nothing and how depressing and what to eat not to gain weight and succumb to lethargy. So this blog is offering a few ideas you can test out.
Are you also getting cabin fever in these times of COVID19 quarantine?
It expresses itself in different ways for different people: lethargy, depression, anxiety, fear, restlessness, lack of motivation, etc.
What my years as a nutritionist and my personal human experiments have taught me is that our feelings really are chemical reactions to our external and internal environment. And while we cannot control the outside world right now, we certainly can control and shape our internal environment. In short, it means eating for mental health.
Over the past 14 days, I have made two major changes to my diet that have proven very effective in keeping me positive, recover from COVID19 faster (and I know I’m one of the lucky survivors) and stay in top shape. In fact, I’m at my best weight ever, feeling fitter by the day as the cough dissipates and I also changed my exercise routine and advised a few of my clients with big health goals to follow along and give this approach a try to speed up their results during the shelter of quarantine.
STEP 1 – TWO MEALS A DAY
The first change was to change my routine from 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to 2 meals a day only. I eat breakfast mid-morning and eat dinner at 6PM at the latest. No other food intake or snack in between. Let’s be honest. We don’t need as much food as we think we do when we sit around all day. In addition, our days rhythms are less hectic, we don’t run around as much as we used to. And even though the stress levels are there, there are more mental than physical and by cutting 300-500 calories a day, I have not suffered a bit. On the contrary, it helped sharpen, perk up my brain (no more food coma or lethargy from overfeeding a body that does not need it). It also really helped me reach and maintain my weight goals. Note that because my diet is very clean and unprocessed (step 2 below) my blood sugar levels are very stable and allow me to fast for long period of times between meals, therefore maximizing fat loss. Not everyone has experience fasting, therefore my recommendation to you is to honor your style of eating but cut 300-500 cal depending on your bio-individual feeding schedule. It could mean skip all snacks if you’re a big snacker or reduce your 6 meals a day to 4 if that’s your feeding schedule.
Do not skip breakfast! Your brain needs to be well fed in these dark depressing times. Proceed to step 2 for more information.
STEP 2 – EAT VIBRANT, FRESH AND LIVING FOODS
For whichever number of meals you are left with to eat per day, choose to eat foods that make you feel upbeat. They are vibrant, fresh and living foods:
With COVID-19 I have not eaten any raw salad in almost a month because I’m afraid of how the greens were handled. But I enjoy the raw vegetables I can wash with soap such as carrot, celery, avocado and cabbage for instance and I cook al the other ones lightly.
Here’s a link to a consumer report about food safety in the time of COVID-19.
Breakfast is rich in essential fatty acids to feed the brain first thing in the morning after a night’s fast and keep it sharp and happy for the first part of the day until dinner. I have alternated between:
Dinner is vegetables, vegetables, vegetables, etc. My favorite dinners this week were:
STEP 3 – AIM FOR 3 MOVEMENT BREAKS PER DAY.
Finally, elevating your workout game is a HUGE remedy against depression. It’s an instant mood boost.
I do a strength training/cardio workout in the morning, a walk at lunch time and yoga before dinner at around 4 or 5PM.
I highly recommend you try to move every 4h or less. It will change your entire day for the better, and help you look and feel your best. It does not have to be a 45 min commitment every time. Just 15 min cardio/strength and 20/30 min yoga and a nice walk is enough.
When in lock down, what you eat and how you move, directly affects how you feel. It’s not easy to implement the above but the CHALLENGE OF IT will really get your mind snapping out of any funk you find yourself in. Today I had to deny myself a snack at 3PM…. I reminded myself. You really don’t need it Emma. Wait 2 more hours. And so I did… Dinner will taste that much better, especially since I regained my sense of smell and taste two days ago!
Stay safe everyone! In these times of suffering and holy times for many, I think of you and wish you and yours to be safe,
PS: I was tested positive 8 days after my first symptoms and got my results (positive of course) on Day 12. Even without symptoms, when recovered, you are still contagious for at least a week… Be patient and wait to be safe for others to leave the house.