By Bell Williams
With all Australians currently practicing social distancing, and many still living and working in isolation, it can be easy to fall into the trap of overindulging in items from the fridge or pantry. But it is in times like these, however, that it is crucial to maintain good nutrition in order to keep your immune system strong, healthy and ready to fight off anything that comes at you. There are a few factors that may make it hard to maintain your nutrition during this pandemic. It is important to recognise these factors so that you can find ways to overcome them. The last thing you want is to undo all your good work or to come out of self-isolation having to buy a whole new wardrobe (as much as you may like an excuse to shop)!
Try and Maintain a Routine
Try and keep your regular routine. Even if you aren’t going to work or even leaving the house. Waking up at the same time each day and getting ready for your day as you normally would will help you maintain a sense of normalcy, as well as maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm which is essential for both mental and immune health. Eating your meals at the regular scheduled times will also make sure your hunger is satiated and will lower your chance of indulging too much when you do finally have something to eat. We all know someone who is super hungry is more likely to not make the healthiest choices. Try to have early nights and stick to your regular sleep pattern so you don’t oversleep in the morning and throw out your whole routine. That will also affect your body clock and will make it harder to get back into your regular routine when everything returns to normal.
It can be very tempting to curl up on the couch and binge-watch your fave series on Netflix while constantly snacking to overcome your boredom. Making sure the only snacks you have on hand are those of the healthy variety can help to prevent this but you must also be conscious of portion sizes. Stock up on fruit and vegetables and limit the amount of junk food you have in your pantry. Try finding alternatives for snacks: i.e swapping potato chips for veggie sticks and hummus or having some berries to combat your sweet tooth rather than that slice of cake. Another tip is to eat something healthy and substantial before you do your grocery shopping, as you’re more likely to buy unhealthy snacks if you are hungry at the time. Increasing protein and fibre intake can also help prevent overeating. Fibre helps maintain a healthy digestive system and gives you a feeling of fullness. Increasing protein will also help you feel fuller for longer and has a thermogenic effect, which will help you to burn a few extra calories as protein requires more energy to digest.
Meal prepping can also be a great way to prevent overeating and also give you an activity to alleviate your boredom. Pick a day of the week, plan what you are going to make for your weekly meals and stock up on all the ingredients needed. Now is as good a time as any to try out some new healthy recipes. Also, try and stay active to overcome your boredom. Remember, multiple trips to the fridge is not adequate cardio!
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, in-fact two out of every 3 times you feel hungry you are likely only in need of fluid. Make sure you are staying hydrated throughout the day to avoid this. The average adult requires 10-12 cups a day, and it is easy to fall short of this. Choosing water over sugar laden beverages is an easy way to limit sugar and calorie intake. Add fruit such as slices of lime to enhance the taste or cucumber and mint for something different. Limit intake of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and energy drinks as these can cause dehydration and may disrupt your sleep pattern and therefore affect your regular routine.
Staying active is critical for maintaining your physical fitness but will also help you maintain good mental health during isolation. At least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise or 1.5 hours of vigorous exercise is recommended per week. Here at The Studio we have launched both online and virtual classes. Our online platform gives you unlimited access to our pre-recorded library of classes that you can complete at a time that is convenient to you. Our Online PLUS platform allows you to participate in live classes via a zoom link and interact with our instructors. This way you can still receive correction and critique on your form. Exercising with a friend is a good way to help you stay connected and accountable.
Take care of your mental health
You need to be mindful of taking care of your mental health as well as your general health in these times. Isolation can cause feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. These can lead to both undereating and overeating which can have negative effects on your health. Making sure we try and stay connected during these hard times will help us prevent feeling isolated and lonely. Catch up with friends via zoom and phone chats. And why not try one of our virtual classes at the same time as a friend so you can see each other in the class and stay accountable to keep moving?!
Try practicing mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises for at least 10 minutes per day. You can find many guided sessions on The Studio HQ Online. Regular exercise is great for mental health too and getting outside (if the weather permits) can help the restlessness you may feel during isolation. As mentioned, try and maintain a routine and a good sleep pattern. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption or drinking alcohol or caffeine late at night. These can all have an affect on your mental health. If you need to talk to someone make sure to always reach out. Many doctors and psychologists are now offering appointments over the phone or via zoom. So give your counsellor or doctor a call and see if they can consult with you this way. It is important not to skip appointments due to COVID-19. Here are some contacts that can provide support:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14 will continue to be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Lifeline Text – 0477 13 11 14 will continue to operate 6 pm-midnight (AEDT), 7 nights a week
- Lifeline webchat will continue to operate 7 pm -midnight (AEDT), 7 nights a week
- Kids Helpline – for children that may need support 1800 55 1800 https://kidshelpline.com.au
- Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636 https://beyondblue.org.au
- The Headspace App – Is free to download and also has some great simple meditations and exercises to stay mentally fit.
Try and stay positive. We will get through this together. Stay healthy, happy and active and we will all be able to reconnect soon.