By Kebbie Stine, MNT
Have you noticed your healthy habits slipping away over the last few weeks of self distancing and the stay-at-home order? I certainly have, and I am hearing from my clients and friends that they are struggling as well. Everything from snacking on junk food all day long, not exercising, binge watching TV (Tiger King anyone?), to drinking way too much alcohol. What if we all pivot and find ways to turn this time into an opportunity to develop habits that will benefit us now and well into the future?
Let's start with food
It can be really challenging to eat healthy when you are only going to the grocery store every 10-14 days. Start with a menu plan; sit down and evaluate what you have and what meals you would like to make (preferably using food you have in your kitchen), then list those meals. Next figure out what ingredients you will need and make a grocery list, don't forget about breakfast and lunch! When you are making your menu plan and grocery list try to include foods that last longer and foods you can freeze. Dried beans, canned or frozen veggies, pasta, rice, meat, etc. Think fresh vegetables that will last a bit longer like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, celery and potatoes. Frozen fruits make great snacks or smoothies; apples, oranges, and grapes have a longer shelf life, especially if kept in the refrigerator. Having your list and sticking to it will reduce time spent in the grocery store, save you money and help prevent impulse buys (aka- junk food).
What about fitness?
The gyms are closed, our routines are all out of whack and laziness has set in. What to do? Take a walk! Getting outside and taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood will release endorphins to boost your mood, reduce stress and help prevent depression. Not to mention a quick walk will give you an opportunity to take a break from staring at screens (and the news), and give you a new perspective, even if only for a few minutes. Walking not enough? I have seen copious virtual workouts and exercise "challenges" popping up on my social media feeds from local gyms, YouTube, and workout apps that are giving free months. Give them a whirl, you may find something new that you love!
Finding yourself parked in the front of the television a wee bit too much lately? You are not alone! Brainstorm some new hobbies, play cards or board games with the people in your house, pick up a good book, try out that dusty puzzle in the back of the closet, or give paint by numbers for adults a shot (some of these are super cool!). Staying in touch with family and friends is especially important right now. I have now experienced virtual happy hour, virtual book group, and a virtual birthday party! Not quite the same, but it is great to see the faces and hear the voices of the people you care about.
And of course Booze
Alcohol consumption is the one thing I have heard the most people complain about. Alcohol sales increased 75% in the month of March across the US! It is really easy to start drinking earlier than you typically would when you are home all day; not to mention the boredom factor, and potential anxiety many people are feeling right now. Starting at 4pm could create a slippery slope of drinking way more than you intend by bedtime, and could make the next day challenging. Some interesting ways to get around this dilemma include getting creative with mocktails, setting a "drinking window", or picking "no drinking days". What is a mocktail you ask? It is a fun beverage that mocks your favorite cocktail sans the alcohol. There are endless recipes out there to experiment with! I often recommend having kombucha or flavored seltzer water in a fancy cocktail glass to clients that are cutting alcohol from their diet. This trick can help get you over that hump in the day when you are used to indulging in an adult beverage. Setting a "drinking window" can also be helpful. If you love having a glass of wine with dinner, then enjoy that, but then switch to water or perhaps a nice cup of tea. Pick a few days a week that you will not drink alcohol and stick to it. Consider writing it somewhere visible or send yourself calendar reminders, whatever works for you!
By making these small changes now you can reap the benefits for months or years to come. Once life gets back to normal and we fall back into old routines we will all be pros at meal planning, taking walking breaks, our new hobbies and being mindful of alcohol consumption, and our bodies and minds will thank us!
Kebbie Stine is a Master Nutrition Therapist in the Denver area. She practices nutrition therapy at Washington Park Chiropractic and is the owner of Whole Choice Nutrition Therapy. Contact Kebbie at email@example.com