Eating during COVID-19
An article written by Dr. Uma Naidoo of Harvard Medical School talks about eating during this stressful, traumatic, and uncertain time of COVID-19. There are so many things that have thrown our routines off-kilter recently:
- Many of us are at home all day, trying to get used to a “new normal” of working from home.
- Many children and entire families are together constantly, with no alone time in sight.
- Constant reports of illness and tragedy come through our TV screens, phones, newspapers and by word-of-mouth, adding to our anxiety.
- Uncertainty abounds – uncertainty of when we’ll go back to normal, what “going back to normal” will actually mean, whether we’ll be able to find staple pantry items at the grocery store, whether someone we love will fall ill.
These factors add up to increased stress and anxiety for many. Humans can tend to turn to food as comfort and as a numbing mechanism, reaching for their “favorite salty, crunchy snack because of boredom or feeling on edge.” This has led to many of the memes across the internet that border on painfully biting, reminding us how out of control our eating has truly gotten.
Going back to Dr. Naidoo’s article, she says, “How, then, can we mindfully make good food choices?
- Make a schedule or a daily meal plan. A schedule is more predictable for you and for everyone in your household.
- Consider apps to stay connected around a meal. Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime with family and friends. Share recipes or even cook virtually together.
- Plan for groceries. Try to buy fewer processed, high-salt or high-sugar snacks.
- Load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
- Save money. Skip the high-sugar soda and juices; instead flavor water with edible citrus or berries.
- Plan and enjoy an occasional comfort food for a weekly treat — pick a day and enjoy whatever you want, just not all your favorites on the same day!
- Manage your environment. If candy is simply not in the cupboard, then you can’t eat it.”
She also has recommendations for reducing “anxiety and boost[ing] immunity by choosing the following:
- Citrus fruit and red bell peppers (both rich in vitamin C, which in some studies has been shown to support your immune system)
- Spices: ginger, garlic, turmeric, and capsaicin (from chili peppers) can be easily added to soups, stews, stir-frys, or salad dressings.
- Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, clams, mussels, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks. You may recognize zinc as an ingredient is the cold remedy Zicam, as zinc has some virus-fighting effects.
- Magnesium-rich foods may help you to feel calmer, and help support immunity. Stress can deplete our magnesium levels too. Examples are legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains.
- Fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids. A study on medical students in 2011 was one of the first to show that omega-3s may help reduce anxiety.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir.
- Add some antioxidants to your anti-anxiety diet, which can support your immune system.”
To read the article in its entirety, click here.
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