During this strange time of social distancing and self-quarantine, we're all stressed, and we're all home all day, which could mean disaster for our eating habits. That’s why we checked in with Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, a nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, for her go-to tips for staying healthy in times of great uncertainty. Here’s what she told us.
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
Through planning, that is. Auslander Moreno recommends creating a menu of easy-to-make pantry and refrigerator meals and snacks and sticking it in on your fridge. That way, every time you’re tempted to reach for that pint of ice cream in the back of the freezer, you’ll be reminded of how many easy, healthier options you also have.
2. Caffeinate Wisely
Working from home, taking care of kids and navigating this new normal requires a lot of energy—often by way of copious amounts of coffee. But Auslander Moreno warns against consuming too much joe, which could make you jittery. A great alternative, she tells us, is matcha, “which provides a more serene energy lift because of its l-theanine.” If you just can’t get on the matcha train, try to limit yourself to two cups of coffee a day, and make sure to balance it out with tons of water.
3. Structure Your Time
“The risk of emotional eating is greater when you’re out of your routine,” Auslander Moreno says. (And we agree, based on personal experience.) She advises creating a meal and snack calendar, which decreases the likelihood that you’ll get wrapped up in a work project (or Netflix show), forget to have lunch, then “make up for it” by attacking a sleeve of Oreos.
4. Think About Why You’re Having Cravings
Speaking of going crazy with a sleeve of cookies, Auslander Moreno says that while cravings aren’t inherently wrong, “We often falsely interpret them as pure hunger, and they’re often a signal of a deeper emotional situation we need to address.” When a craving strikes, explain it before giving into it. Did you eat enough at your last meal? Have you eaten enough today in general? Are you anxious or bored? Do you need to go outside to clear your head a bit and breathe? Understanding why you want junk food could negate the need to satisfy your cravings—or at least satisfy them with a healthier alternative.
5. Cut Yourself Some Slack
“You have enough stress on your plate with the virus going around, be nice to your strongest asset—your physical form,” Auslander Moreno urges. She adds that thinking negatively or chastising yourself for how you’re eating can actually increase the drive to eat poorly. Understand that this is an unprecedented time, and the occasional junk food slip-up only means you’re human.