By Angela Wallace, MSc, RD and PTS
It seems like everywhere I look on social media there has been some discussion or meme about the ‘quarantine 15,’ which is essentially referring to gaining weight while practicing physical distancing. This new way of living creates a variety of challenges, including easy access to your fridge and pantry all day long while working from home. Although I don’t think we should be focusing on weight loss or restricting forms of comfort food during a global pandemic, I do believe there are ways to practice mindful eating to support your health (both physically and mentally) at this time.
Today I am sharing 4 ways to practice mindful eating while being quarantined.
Acknowledge your emotions and reflect on your type of hunger
Next time you head to your fridge or pantry, ask yourself what brings you there? Is it physical hunger (empty rumbling stomach), heart hunger (related to anything you might be feeling), or brain hunger (also known as cravings)? Whatever hunger you are feeling acknowledge it and take a minute to decide if you want to eat or not. If you are feeling heart hunger, I encourage you to try doing something else instead. Perhaps take a step outside to get some fresh air, journal, read part of a book, meditate, do some stretches, Facetime or call a friend, anything that will bring some joy to your day and help elevate your mood.
It’s okay to allow food to bring you some comfort
We eat to not only nourish our bodies with nutrients but to also provide comfort, hence the term comfort food. I am not a big promoter of restricted eating, so I want you to allow yourself some comfort foods during this challenging time. Avoiding your comfort foods all together will likely lead to intensified cravings, and potentially overeating (we tend to eat other foods to try and satisfy that craving and often end up giving into the craving too). Instead try giving yourself permission to enjoy a small amount (yes portion control is key here) of your comfort food a few times each week.
How can you control the amount?
- Simply giving yourself permission puts you in control of your craving and you will be less likely to overindulge.
- Take a small amount or serving and then put the rest away, if you want more try doing something else instead (again cravings are not usually linked to physical hunger).
- Don’t bring extra snacks into the house. Many of us have been over purchasing foods, especially snack foods (I know a grocery store purchaser and chips sales are way up)! Having extra snacks in the home doesn’t mean you will save them, in fact our environment will determine what we eat, so having more will likely translate to eating more too.
Plan your meals, set some type of meal routine for yourself and your family
When working from home our routines tend to be quite different, you might even have some little ones marching into your office on the regular. As we slowly adapt to our new normal and working from home, I highly recommend starting to plan your meals, as it will play a key role in supporting healthy eating.
- Have healthy pantry and fridge staples available to support healthy snacking like nuts and seeds, dried fruit, oats, fresh fruit, hummus, raw veggies, seedy crackers, etc.
- Start with planning your dinner meals, this will help to reduce your day to day stress and mental load. It will also help you create a grocery list and not over purchase foods you don’t need. In fact making a grocery list, will reduce over purchasing and impulse buys (there is a ton of research to support that).
- Take 10 minutes each week to sit down and plan your meals, they can be simple or something new, have fun with it and get your family involved.
Make time to enjoy your meals
Meals and food are about so much more than the nutrients they provide our bodies. Food represents community, connection, healing, growth, love, and culture. Take time to have fun in your kitchen, explore new things, and eating with loved ones.
Distracted eating is quite common (especially when working from home and you are trying to feed family members, work, be a teacher and feed yourself). Distracted eating is often associated with overeating and not feeling satisfied post meal. Try taking 5-10 minutes to sit and enjoy your meal alone or with loved ones and disconnect from your technology. Chew slowly, enjoy the flavour, colours and texture, if you are eating with little ones ask them about their experience with the food. Asking what it tastes like for them, how it feels in their mouth, and what their favourite colour on their plate is? Being present and enjoying each bite is a great way to practice mindful eating and promote healthy eating behaviours.
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Cheers to happy and healthy mindful eating.
Stay safe and keep healthy.
About Angela Wallace, MSc, RD and PTS
Angela Wallace is a registered dietitian, personal training specialist with canfitpro, and family food expert. She has a masters degree in applied human nutrition, extensive training in motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy for weight management.
Angela specializes in women and family health. She specifically works with weight management, gut health, and all things family nutrition (introducing solids to your little one, picky eating, fuelling your little athlete, simplifying family meals,etc.). She uses a ‘non dieting approach’ with her ultimate goals being to help women find a balanced lifestyle and healthy relationship with food that works for them and their families!