How are we all doing out there during this COVID-19 lockdown?! It's touch and go for me. One day goes well and then the next I'm really struggling. With all this time at home I think I should be getting so much done, but some days I just feel paralyzed. I feel like I should be doing more for my clients, and I feel bad that we were just getting into a rhythm in the group weight loss class and then we had to stop. I tell myself every morning that I will be more patient with my kids and their homework, but it can be so frustrating. Ugh, things aren't perfect, that's for sure. Then again, I have it a lot better than some others who are having to put themselves in harms way everyday, or those who have completely lost their jobs. So, I'm trying to keep things in perspective.
Thank goodness for the internet and social media for a little bit of connection. The main emotions I've been seeing from many people are stress and anxiety, which, for many, means emotional eating. We've all been seeing the memes, the cute chubby baby with all the rolls exclaiming "Me after I eat all my quarantine snacks!" Stress is definitely high, whether it be from spending all our time cooped up indoors, or working while helping the kids with homeschool, or job loss or the fear of losing a job, or even staying healthy. This is a great opportunitiy to practice stress management and self care. Easier said than done, I know, but more important than ever right now.
One of the ways my family has been trying to cope is by setting up a schedule for the weekdays. We have a scheduled wake-up time for the whole family at 7:30am, and we start with a 10 minute workout and family dog walk. We have time frames set up for school/work activities, breaks, and exercise. Last night (Sunday night) we talked about a food plan for the week, including what we will be making for dinners and some lunch ideas. This allows us to make a grocery list to minimize trips to the store and pull foods from the freezer, if needed. On tap for us this week, grilled chicken with pasta and veggies, smoked pork loin, and chicken and wild rice soup. And take-out pizza for my birthday at the end of the week! :) I'm hitting Costco today (with gloves and wipes) to pick up some bags of salads, frozen veggies and some fruit for the week. Schedules aren't always perfect, the wheels came off the bus at the end of the week last week for me, but a little editing to that schedule makes me feel like this week is more manageable (the key I was missing was getting my workout in early in the day so I feel more productive the rest of the day).
Judging from all the baked goods showing up on my Facebook feed, people locked up at home feel better when they bake. I can relate to that. In fact, a neighbor had posted that she was out of flour and couldn't find any at the store, so I took her some and was gifted with warm, homemade scones later that day. I definitely got the better end of that deal! Baking is great, unless it leads to overeating sweet treats or fuel for emotional eating. Try making healthy baking, like The Fluffiest Whole Wheat Biscuits from 100 Days of Real Food . Or, these Ellie Krieger Pumpkin Muffins. Tip, make your own buttermilk - 1 Tbsp of lemon juice w/ 1 cup milk, let it sit 5 minutes.
When you are feeling stressed, sad, angry, fill-in-the-blank, try something other than eating. Can you take the dog for a walk? Make a list to organize your thoughts? Take a 20 min power nap? Read? Call a friend? Maybe it would be a good time for a quick meditation or workout. Make sure you check out GLC's Youtube posts, where you will links to both exercise and meditation, even a dance break. They are not long videos, try them out!
In terms of specific foods to help with stress, research linking nutrient to stress management is limited. We know that antioxidants and B vitamins are needed for the brain to function normally, so make sure to include your typical health foods, including colorful fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. For times that you ARE hungry, not just bored or anxious, have some satisfying, pre-portioned foods around, and consider some serotonin boosting foods to help you relax. Whole grain carbs are a good way to boost serotonin, like oatmeal and popcorn. Nuts can help boost vitamin B stores, stick to about 1/4 cup. Foods rich in vitamin C are great antioxidants, like bell peppers, citrus and strawberries. Knowing you have healthy snacks available and convenient can lower your anxiety about eating, so plan ahead. Try to use this time at home as a gift to start some new healthy habits.
Stay healthy, my friends. We are here for you!