I started to think about nutrition in quarantine when I started to get so many questions about it from my online clients and I began to see so many dieting and nutrition posts on Instagram. The reality is, who is thinking about dieting during times like this? Don't get me wrong, it's up to you to diet. If you want to do it and you are under circumstances that could support it, feel free to do it. As I said to some of my clients: "You can keep doing the deficit as long as it doesn't affect you negatively mentally, and until you can manage it, food wise and commitment wise."
Most people is struggling with grocery shopping now, including me, we are not thinking about buying salmon or chicken breast, we buy what we find available in the market. Most supermarkets are having issues with re-stocking meat products and fresh produce. Therefore, when you get to the market is only a matter of grabbing what you find and try to work with it at home.
Not every country is under the same struggle or situation, some countries are struggling with toilet paper (Australia - USA), others with meat products (Spain - Portugal), and others are not struggling with anything yet. The big problem here is the hoarding of people who, thanks to panic and selfishness, buy all the chicken pantry in the supermarket, leaving others with no other option but to solve with what they get. In difficult times is when we must work as a team and be together, otherwise we all sink, especially in a pandemic.
But, what should be the most important thing right now? I got an easy answer for you, your mental health. Yes, you heard right, I came here to tell you to don't stress much about if you hit your protein or your overall macronutrient requirements. Instead, do your best to work with what you have and eat as much balanced as you can. Yes, you know vegetables are important, lean proteins are important, good fats and carbohydrates as well. So, as long as you have a little bit of everything, just be ok about it. Don't freak out one day just because you didn't ate enough protein, how do you supposed to do if you only got a little protein left in the freezer and maybe 2 kids to feed and you are unemployed with not enough money to buy food weekly? See? There are other priorities right now.
Dieting shouldn't be your first thing in the list now. What you should focus instead is on being in calorie maintenance. Why? You don't want to stress about losing weight, but I guess you also don't want to gain back all the weight you lost before the quarantine started, right? Or, putting a different scenario, you don't want to gain 10 kg in a couple of months for the first time in your life, right? Well, I don't personally want that for my body.
What I have been focusing on is staying active as much as I can and keeping a calorie maintenance without stressing about it. Some days I eat more or less, but the majority of the time I try my best to don't go under or over my daily calories. Am I counting calories? Hell no. That's also a NO during times like this. Then, how do I know that I am in a calorie maintenance rate? Simple, for me, I have been doing this for long time, I know my body and I know what works for my body, portion control, etc. In your particular case, you might not have idea of what your maintenance calories are and you might not be interested on knowing also, so something that could help to get you there is to eat to live and not live to eat during these days. Portion control is key if you want to be in calorie maintenance.
What happens if I get anxious and start emotionally eating?
First of all, anxiety is very normal during times like this, so don't feel that you are alone. We are all with you. The difference comes on how you deal with your anxiety, is it with food, harming yourself, punching something? Did you know that one of the most common ways to cope with our emotions is eating? The solution is quite simple and difficult at the same time, it all comes down to sincere self-talk and self-control.
Sincere self-talk: Find what your troubles are. You should find the issue to then being able to fix it, otherwise you won't ever get out of that hole. So, if your issue for having anxiety now is the uncertainty we are currently living, ask yourself: Are you going to fix something eating? No. Why then are you eating every time you eat anxious if that't not solving anything? Coping with food is just a temporal solution, it won't fix the real issue.
The things we tend to eat when coping with food are, ice cream, chocolate, chips, fast food, in other words: high calorie dense foods or highly processed foods. Is that what you want to be putting in your body every day during the quarantine? I don't think so. So, let's start learning to cope with other things instead.
Coping strategies: Dancing, exercising, reading, watching a funny video, singing, writing, drawing, meditating, breathing.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong about feeling sad or happy one day and wanting a bit of ice cream, the problem comes when it becomes an habit, it turns into a ongoing behaviour and you lose total control of yourself. There is also nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with something you enjoy once in a while, but again, the problem is when you link everything good you achieve or do, with a reward in form of food. Why not getting a massage instead?
Self-control: Having self-control is not that easy as some people say and neither so difficult as others say. It's just a matter of discovering your self-being and working on improving.
How to self-control?
Self-control not only works when dieting or when working towards improving your relationship with food, but with other aspects of your life as well.
Coming back to the main topic, quarantine and eating, remember you should eat what you have while trying to keep a balanced diet approach, nothing extreme or too glamorous, there is not time for glamour, we are living every day in pijamas now (haha). What you eat will depend on what you have access to, but it's important to follow the most basic foundations of healthy eating, which are: eating whole foods mostly, lean protein, adequate amounts of good fats and carbohydrates, and moderate amounts of processed foods.
It's not easy what we are experiencing, a pandemic is not something that will get fixed from one day to another, we should remain patient, connected with the positive and making the most out of the unfortunate free time we currently have.
Extra tip for your quarantine: