Nutritionist Sarah Moore joined us last night for a virtual chat about eating well in self isolation. It was so fantastic to have her share her thoughts and knowledge with us. Each virtual attendee was also able to ask for suggestions based on their specific self isolation situation which was also super useful! Turns out we were all facing similar, but different, nutrition challenges. I wanted to take a moment now, to share some of Sarahs goodness from last night! I love that she stripped it right back to basics, kept the advice practical, put the power back in our hands and didn’t bog us down with ridiculous ‘superfood’ detail that would only add to the overwhelm. Check out what Sarah had to say below.
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This is a unique time
It’s a weird and unique time as people are currently worried about their health for various reasons: Perhaps they were working on some health and fitness goals before all this started; perhaps they want to be more health conscious in the midst of this health crisis; or perhaps they’re experiencing issues with shopping frequently and feeding the family.
It’s going to be different for each of us. It’s likely to change every day of the week. And it’s ok that things are a little out of our control right now. – we need to let go of the reigns a little bit. We know this will not last forever so this is not the time to be super stressed about whether your kid is eating all the veggies you put in front of him, or if you’re meeting those weight loss goals you had in mind…. this just isn’t the time for that.
Take it back to basics
We need to cut out the noise, and focus on what’s important – and thats the basics. We should not be stressing about anything food related at the moment. Anything we can do to stress less, is going to be good for our immune system!
- Eat three meals a day.
- Eat from each of the food groups.
It doesn’t matter if our vegetables are fresh, frozen or from a can. It doesn’t matter if its the same 2 fruit & 5 vegetable everyday. After this is all done, we can go back to looking after our ‘long term health’.
Focus on your ‘short term health’ for now
You don’t need to be preparing meals from a #fitspo cookbook… Just aim for a couple of food groups in each meal and decent portion sizes. What we’re trying to do is limit those times we stand in front of the fridge putting something quickly on a cracker before heading back to ‘whatever’ it is we were busy doing (ie. wrangling toddlers or sitting at our desk working)
Remember, this situation is only for a short time. Whatever happens in this time won’t have a massive impact on your health! We need to do what we can to get through this now – eating regularly and trying to keep up with the habits we had before will help our stress, our mood, how well we cope, and how well we come out the other side! We can worry about our long term health after we get through all this.
Think about yourself first
Most of us our worried about everything and everyone else. But we kind of need to be focusing on ourselves to start. If we don’t look after our own health, or manage our own stress – it’s only going to impact those around us.
It’s important you make time for yourself to eat. Our days are different – we’re so busy trying to keep up’ or ‘keep others happy’ that we often forget to make time for our own meals.
- Block out time in your day for meal breaks.
- Set alarms on your phone 5-15minutes before these meal
- Eat when the kids eat (even if you’re not quite hungry). Most of us put more effort into kids meals so eating what we planned for them is at least going to get us off to a good start!
Figure out how much structure you can realistically maintain
Our whole week has gone to shambles so we’re having to come up with some kind of ‘new’ routine. Our schedules are not going to be as clockwork as they once were. The key is going to be getting into some kind of structure and routine that works for you. And this is going to be different for everyone. Some of us will want more structure, some will do better with less structure. How prescriptive and scheduled do you need, or want, to be?
Plan out some of your meals
You need to think of ways you can start making ‘the basic three meals a day’ easier for yourself! If you’re finding yourself skipping meals, or snacking because you’re legitimately hungry, doing any kind of prep will certainly help! Often when we’re really busy or stressed, we don’t notice our hunger until we stop for a second… by then we’re SO hungry we don’t want to give time to prepping a ‘proper meal’ so we just grab the quickest and easiest thing we can find.
- Do you like leftovers? Make a bigger dinner and use these as lunches!
- I like to make extra components of my dinner (ie. I’ll cook a little extra pasta or a few more roasted veggies) so then at least I have a ‘base’ to work from.
- Getting things ready the night before can be really helpful.
- If you’re used to packing your lunches for work and for school then try and keep to this routine. (Need some help with lunchbox recipes – check out Sarahs lunchbox e-book!)
Being flexible is really important at this time. For example, if there was no pasta at the shops, try having your bolognese on a baked potato instead. Not sure what to ‘swap’ in or out of meals? Take a look at the AUSTRALIAN HEALTH EATING GUIDELINES – it gives a good visual of the food groups. Try and swap for something else in the same food group. At times like this, being flexible can definitely help reduce our stress!
EXTRA TIP: If things feel like they are getting boring or repetitive, pull this visual key out for some swap ideas!
Start the day by nourishing your self
If we can start the day by nourishing ourselves, it will make a big difference to our mood and energy levels during these high stress times! Anything that you can pre-prepare for breakfast can work really well (ie. overnight oats). If you’re struggling to stomach food in the morning at the moment, chose something simple like a banana. Having a little bit of food is going to be better than nothing.
EXTRA TIP: If you’re experiencing fatigue and cravings later in the day or even at nighttime, take a good look at your breakfast.
Visual reminders can help
Visual reminders can lower that burden of you having to think! If it’s written or can easily be seen, you are more likely to grab it.
- Keep a LIST of meals or easy snack options in view (ie. stick a post it note on the fridge). For example you might write SNACK ideas like rice crackers & avocado, carrot & hummus, apple slices & peanut butter.
- Place some healthy snacks on your desk.
- Place a water bottle on your desk.
- Leave things out on the bench at night to jolt your memory in the morning (ie. water bottle and fruit to remind yourself to drink more water and cut up some fruit to store in the fridge)
- have healthy snacks all chopped up and ready to go. This limits you opening the fridge and staring blankly inside.
- Having foods/snacks all ready to go in little containers on a shelf little ones can reach can also reduce the ‘burden/stress’ off of you!
Putting restrictions on certain foods rarely works
Theres likely to be a lot of stress eating going on at this time. The solution to stress eating is not so much “just don’t do it”, its more about “acknowledging it”. So instead of saying “I can’t have that” or “I shouldn’t have that” think about how you could make it a bit better for you. For example: When you find yourself reaching into the cupboard for that biscuit – could you crumble it over some yoghurt and fruit instead? Maybe you will try this, maybe you won’t. But if you’ve at least acknowledged it, the next time you go to reach for that ‘biscuit’ you might catch yourself a little earlier and choose a healthier option instead (ie. glass of water, apple and peanut butter or short walk outside).
Save supplements for diagnosed deficiencies
If you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals (ie. if you are prone to being low in iron) now might be a good time to have a chat to your GP. But if you haven’t been diagnosed with a deficiency, you’d be better off spending your money elsewhere. Getting enough sleep, managing your stress and moving your body regularly have all been proven to impact your immune system more than unnecessary supplements.