As the stay-at-home orders continue to extend in cities worldwide, many are feeling the effects of being in quarantine. Anxiety, boredom, and restlessness are just some of the things people may be experiencing as we continue to isolate in our homes. It's no wonder then that we are turning to our favourite comfort foods more often than usual. While it's okay to indulge every once in a while, especially during a time of stress, it's also important to be aware of the types of foods you are putting into your body.
It is evident on social media that more people are baking and cooking during the lockdown. While this is a great hobby to take up, people might be mindlessly putting things in their body that are not necessarily good for them. What are your tips for healthier eating habits while in quarantine?
Totally agreed! I’m all for a good loaf of sourdough, but when we’re baking a new batch of cookies every other day, we might need to re-think our meal planning strategy.
The best tips for sticking to healthier eating habits while in quarantine is simple: have some kind of plan for your week
The best tips for sticking to healthier eating habits while in quarantine is simple: have some kind of plan for your week! When you have a plan, it also means you’re less likely to have to make a second grocery store trip that week or have pasta again for dinner that week… for the fifth time.
If you’ve never planned your weekly meals before, start with something simple like breakfast. Get all the ingredients you need for a smoothie, egg cups or overnight oats to ensure you’re starting your day off on a healthy note.
Let’s unpack that one a bit more, because I know SO many people who struggle with meal planning. First - meal planning takes practice, and now is the best time to start getting used to it:
Decide which meal you’ll be planning for each week. Will you need to make it daily? Or can you make a large batch at once? What do you have time for?
If you don’t have a go-to recipe, find one that interests you; make sure you have all the ingredients on your grocery list!
Get it all washed and chopped when you get home from the store (save the cooking for another day!)
Aim to “batch cook” when possible! This means making large batches of single ingredients to make varied meals like buddha bowls, salads, etc. within minutes!
My next tip is to include superfoods and veggies wherever you can. Eating a cookie (or three) a day is fine by me, as long you are still consuming nutrient dense foods or supplements, and moving every day. I’m a huge fan of adding immunity superstars like spirulina to a smoothie, or protein-rich collagen to baking.
Another thing people are turning to during quarantine are comfort foods. While it's okay to indulge every once in a while, boredom might be increasing the amount of junk foods that people are eating. What is your advice on how people can limit the amount of bad food they're intaking? What are some good alternatives to people's favourite comfort foods?
It all goes back to planning - make sure that you plan your grocery shopping accordingly and keep healthier snacks in the cupboard. I’ve been LOVING Organika’s new FAV Cookies. It’s the first-ever collagen cookie, so I’m getting a dose of collagen, lots of protein and only 3-4g of sugar (depending on the flavour). My favourite so far is the double chocolate chip, which I dip in peanut butter for some extra healthy fats.
Keep healthier snacks in the cupboard
If you’re up for making your own healthy treats, try swapping your flour. I love to use almond or coconut flour in cookie or banana bread recipes to add some fibre and reduce the wheat flour I use. I also am a huge fan of making things like raw energy balls that use adaptogens to help manage stress like chaga or ashwagandha to kick my sweet tooth craving. Superfood-charged popcorn is my go-to when I want to cozy up to whatever I’ve been watching on Netflix that week. I actually really like nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, coconut oil and a pinch of salt on my popcorn!
Let's talk about boosting our immune systems. What are some foods we should keep in mind to help improve our overall health?
Your immune system starts with the foundations of healthy living: sleep, stress and a good diet. I love to add immune boosters, but these are most helpful when we have the basics down first.
There are three main areas of food groups that I highlight when talking about building our immune system:
- Healthy Fats
Plants are so full of antioxidants which are important to build up our immune system and fight off what’s called “free radicals” that can cause damage to our healthy cells.
Protein is essential because it’s another major building block to our immune cells. The general rule-of-thumb for figuring out your protein intake is to find your weight in kilograms (weight in lbs/2.2), then multiply by 0.8. This is the minimum amount of protein you should be consuming per day. Increase this if you’re fairly active or older.
Healthy fats, especially those high in omega-3s like wild-caught fish, algae and seeds, are so beneficial for our overall immune health and they help in the healing process.
Lastly, how can we use this time to better improve our eating habits and leave quarantine a healthier person?
Health looks different for everyone. For one person it’s getting in a daily sweat, while another is having a regular meditation practice. Choose what healthy looks like for you, and prioritize it!
If you’re working from home, add in a workout at lunch, walk around the block every few hours, set up your workstation outside if you have the space for it, plan for a little play with your children.
Try to schedule your week on a Sunday evening or Monday morning to ensure other calls don’t start taking over your schedule.
Rhiannon Lytle is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, practicing in Vancouver B.C. and is part of the team at Organika.
Rhiannon loves to focus on hormones and mental health, as well as helping women and men find a healthy balance that can suit their lifestyle