Okay – let’s get something straight before I dive into this. I can’t say I’m of the mind to tell someone a particular “diet” to be on however, I do not buy into the fact that a calorie is a calorie. There are varying calorie qualities that ultimately effect our state of nutrition, hunger levels and waist-line.
So I ask the question – instead of approaching nutrition in terms of “dieting,” why not rather make it a lifestyle thing?
Food is meant to nourish our body to maintain a stabilized system to work efficiently. This includes providing nutrients and energy. That doesn’t mean that every once in a while you can’t enjoy something that tastes good – it’s all about doing it smart!
During this quarantine, we probably aren’t moving around as much because of how limited we are. Times like these can start problems with weight-gain. Eating more calories than what are being “used” through activity will cause weight gain. On the flip side, it’s well-known that you can’t outwork a bad “diet.”
Try and carve out some time each day to take a walk – either inside your house or outside away from people. We are fortunate in North Carolina to already be experiencing some amazing weather. If you are working from home, don’t spend more than 2 consecutive hours in front of the computer – stand up and work if you can.
The question shouldn’t be “what foods do I avoid during quarantine?” The real question should be, what foods should I focus on eating?”
High-quality calories can be defined as real food that is minimally processed or not processed at all. With the exception of nuts and nut butters (along with similar foods), REAL FOOD has less calories per serving than most junk food.
Okay – so what should I eat?
Eat real food! You should also ask yourselves two important questions every day:
- How much you are moving throughout the day?
- Are you hungry or bored?
Here are a couple of tips for picking the right foods:
- Avoid foods that come from a box or a bag – Take this extra time (if you have access to fresh ingredients) to get in the kitchen and get creative. Cooking is really intimidating sometimes and usually it has a lot to do with having NO TIME during the day.
- If you pick something from a box/bag, pay attention to what’s in it – many people say that carbs don’t make you fat. Honestly, I disagree because if you are not active, your metabolism isn’t functioning well and you are eating junk food high in carbs/sugar, you will gain weight. It is also associated with metabolic syndrome which can lead to more serious illnesses like diabetes and obesity.
- Focus on protein content – protein will keep you full and it’s probably the most important nutrient to your body in addition to fat and complex carbs.
Some great protein food choices (if you can get a hold of them) are chicken, turkey, beef, eggs and fish. For a while, I couldn’t find eggs anywhere but I think grocery stores are now putting limits on how many you can buy at once – FINALLY. If you don’t eat animal products, I recommend minimally processed soy products, nuts and lentils. Don’t forget to supplement the other nutrients you are missing out on by not eating animal products (B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids).
Pair these protein sources with greens like spinach, kale or mixed salad greens. I love to add veggies like zucchini, beets, carrots, sweet potato, or tomatoes.
A quick and easy way to get what you need is to make bowls similar to what you’d get at a restaurant:
- Pick your protein
- Pick your base
- Pick your veggies
- Pick your nuts/toppings
- Pick your dressing (olive oil and vinegar?)
BOOM you have a quick and solid meal!
One More Thing…
I know you’re going to hate me for saying this – but don’t go crazy on the booze. I know, you hate me now. But we have to face facts – alcohol goes straight to your waistline and has a ton of calories. I’m not saying give up booze all together, but just know that it’s usually the fastest way to pack on the pounds and the hardest weight to shed. PS. It also makes you feel hungrier.
I understand that options are limited right now – but it’s a perfect opportunity to keep it simple. Food choices have a lot to do with behavior too! Before going to the fridge, ask yourself – why am I opening up the fridge?
As always, thanks for reading. I hope this made things simple for yall!
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do have a Master’s degree in Nutrition. Please don’t use this advice over advice from your doctor.
Camila WS, Felipe VC, Salvo D, Kohl,Harold W., I.,II, Schaan BD. Unhealthy snack intake modifies the association between screen-based sedentary time and metabolic syndrome in brazilian adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2019;16:1-9.
Poudel P, Ismailova K, Andersen LB, Larsen SC, Heitmann BL. Adolescent wine consumption is inversely associated with long-term weight gain: Results from follow-up of 20 or 22 years. Nutrition Journal. 2019;18.