The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of significant changes in our daily lives, and these apply to how we practice our diet and take care of our health. Daily disinfection and proper hygienic practices have little effect if we always compromise our immune systems and gain unwanted weight as a result of poor food and dietary choices, especially now that there is little space for exercise and physical activities.
Susie Burrell is a Sydney-based dietitian and nutritionist, and founder of ShapeMe, a website that specializes on personalized and dietitian-directed weight loss plans. Writing for Nine Network Australia’s 9Honey lifestyle arm, she has shared top diet tricks that will help you stay healthy during the coronavirus lockdown:
Snacks can be nutritious energy sources for active people. However, we may not need them in between meals especially when we spend a lot more time sitting down and when formal exercise is limited.
Strictly following a three-meals-per-day approach without any added snacks will ultimately help prevent weight gain over the next few weeks. If you must snack, snack on filling, low-calorie options such as raw vegetables, popcorn and berries.
Lighten Your Favorite Recipes
Home quarantine gives us ample time to cook, and that is a good thing as far as nutrition is concerned.
“The only issue is that we can get a little heavy-handed with the home-cooked meals, and indulge in calorie-dense, higher-fat options when we have time to plan and prepare more elaborate dishes,” Burrell said.
If you love baking and trying new gourmet dishes, she recommended shifting to their lighter versions to reduce extra calories. Some easy swaps include zucchini pasta for regular pasta and cauliflower rice for regular rice.
Obsessive calorie tracking may not be a preferred option for those who find it to increase food focus. However, keeping a general food diary or logging your calories can help us be mindful of what we are eating.
“The average female who is managing minimal activity will need just 1200 to 1400 calories a day, while males (will need) 1800 to 2000,” Burrell said. “Given that a single muffin or chocolate bar contains at least (25 percent) of an entire day’s worth of calories, it is easy to see how we can eat too much if we are mindlessly munching on extra snacks and treats.”
Embrace Herbal Tea
Since the coronavirus pandemic forces you to work at home, you might not be able to enjoy work breaks and have coffee or tea with colleagues, resulting in noticeable changes in your daily routine. So why not make yourself a cup of tea every one or two hours?
Although tea — specifically herbal tea — is a low-calorie option, green tea in particular is packed with various antioxidants and potential health benefits without any added calories.
“Drinking tea regularly will also help you to keep optimally hydrated and give your hands something to do when you are bored or anxious so you are less likely to reach for a snack,” she said.
Pack Your Lunch
“Many of us will start the day with the best of intentions when it comes to our food, but it is when it gets to 1 pm, and you find yourself starving and not knowing what to have for lunch that grabbing the frozen pies or sausage rolls, or ordering high calorie food in becomes an appealing option,” Burrell said.
With this in mind, start each work day knowing what you will eat and when so you are far less likely to be attracted to appealing (and unhealthier) food options when meal time arrives and you are hungry. You can pack your lunch and snacks either the night before or at the start of the day. By keeping tabs on what you will eat at what time, and not what you could eat, you will help control your calorie intake in the middle of a global health crisis.
Keep Food Out Of Sight
Availability can determine food intake. If there are tempting foods in sight or within easy reach, you will eat them, regardless of how self-controlled you believe yourself to be.
If you are aiming to maintain your weight while working at home, it is best to limit the availability of tempting food and also keep snacks and other food that can be easily grabbed out of sight.
“Pack snacks away, make sure tempting foods are placed at the back of cupboards and keep minimal extras at home,” Burrell said. “You can always duck out and pick something up if you are desperately in need of or are craving.”