Don’t reach out for that bag of chips. Maintain a food diary to avoid binge eating

Ahead of the Janata Curfew and the lockdown, many went into overdrive, panic buying and piling shopping carts high with large bars of chocolates, colas, and chips. It’s anyone’s guess if a cartload of snacks can be spaced out and consumed in moderation.

Working from home has become the new normal until the COVID-19 outbreak is curbed, and there’s always the danger of indulging in unhealthy snacks. How does one tread cautiously?

Maintain a routine. If you’re an early riser who normally clocks in a 45- to 60-minute workout, keep at it. Clock in to work at the same you would usually, and do the same clocking out. While this may seem like it has nothing to do with eating wisely, it does, because you’re setting your body and mind up for a day as you would have done it in pre-Corona times. You’re less likely to look at the day as a time to indulge. Hyderabad-based nutritionist Deepa Agarwal says we must be aware of when we’re eating because we’re hungry and when we’re ‘comfort eating’ in times of stress.

  • Steer clear of: Aerated drinks, chocolates and candies, chips and other junk food
  • Say yes to: Fresh home cooked food using non-perishables such as rice, dal, pulses, millets and available vegetables. Include peanuts, roasted chickpeas, a variety of roasted seeds, and fruits, as snacks if possible.
  • Stick to your daily fitness routine, at home.

Plan menus. Check your fridge the previous evening, and look at meals as prep time and cook time, since many of us don’t have live-in help. You can split this into a morning-evening routine. Think of nutritious breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and mid meal snacks that you won’t regret later. Limit caffeine intake and include roasted chickpeas and a variety of nuts as snacks. To break the monotony, Sridevi Jasti (@vibrantlivingbysridevijasti on Instagram), a nutritionist, suggests occasionally swapping regular breakfast with fruits or dinner with a salad steeped with roasted nuts and seeds that are a good source of calcium, protein and zinc: “Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of zinc, which is an essential mineral to build immunity.” If you can, opt for local and seasonal produce.”

Make a quick salad with ingredients available at home  
| Photo Credit:
K Murali Kumar

Start the day well. Deepa suggests beginning the day with green tea or lemon honey water, and keeping to healthy breakfasts such as poha, upma, idlis with sambar or dosas with sambar, or oatmeal. “Have buttermilk or nimbu (lemon) juice mid-morning. Rice or roti with dal, subzi and curd for lunch. In the evening have green tea with some sprouts or roasted murmura. Dinner could be soups or fruits (if available) or repeat one of the breakfast options with reduced portions,” she adds.

Maintain a food diary. This will ensure you don’t eat out of boredom or loneliness. Video calls with team members, for those working from home, might be morale boosters too. On social media, look out for Rujuta Diwekar’s 14-day meal plan called The Quarantine Plan, primarily using non perishables.

Dry fruits such as figs, almonds and pistachios make for a mid-meal snack
| Photo Credit:
Nagara Gopal

Skip the sugar. Sridevi asserts that this is the time — more than ever — to focus on building immunity, gut health and steer clear of sugar-laden eats or fried food. “About 70% of our immunity comes from maintaining good gut health. When we overload our body with the wrong choice of food (such as overly processed food), the gut bacteria get compromised. As it is we are stressed about the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis and many of us are forced to work from home, so we need to help our body deal with the changes and not shock it further,” she says. Need a sweet booster? You could do almond or peanut butter on apple slices and top them with raisins. But she also suggests experimenting — by adding nuts to traditional coconut chutney and topping it with green chillies. Or, a plate of sliced cucumbers with black salt and cumin powder.

A salad by Sridevi Jasti  
| Photo Credit:
@vibrantlivingbysridevijasti on Instagram

Know we are all in this together. So if you slip up one day, don’t beat yourself up. Try and tie up with a friend so you check in on each other over the phone, if you’re home alone. “We are all in this together,” says Deepa.

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