Just because we are in quarantine doesn't mean you’ve got to fall off your healthy nutritious living.
There have been so many funny memes and jokes swirling around social media talking about the quarantine weight gain. I’ve had a few laughs myself.
But in all seriousness, most of our routines have been disrupted. Whether that be good or bad, we can resort to eating when stressed or just out of our normal routines. But, there are a few simple things we can do to stay on track with giving our bodies what it needs for optimal nutrition and not putting on unnecessary weight.
Here are 5 simple tips to help keep off those unwanted LB’s during this time “At Home.”
1. Shop smart!
This can be challenging since we aren’t going to the store as often as we were able to before. If you’re like us, you are going once a week or every other week. I personally have found this challenging because we buy a lot of fresh foods and to be completely honest, I love grocery shopping.
First off, don’t buy junk food. If you don’t have it in your house you can’t eat it right? Just avoid these isles all together. Ever heard don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry? This could be the single best piece of advice and keep you from those unnecessary impulse buys.
You can still buy healthy food that lasts a long time in your cupboards or fridge without stocking up on processed foods.
Before you go to the store, plan head.
Since we have more time on our hands, you can put some menu planning into practice. Write out your menu for one to two weeks at a time. Make sure you write out your breakfast, lunch and dinner but don’t forget to include your snacks! I loved what Dave Ramsey says, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I take this little saying into many areas of life, including grocery shopping!
If you’re wondering how to still get healthy items without things going bad really quickly, here’s some ideas to help get you started.
If you’re used to getting your veggies in by way of salads for dinner, maybe switch it up for some veggies that last a little bit longer in your fridge. Perhaps bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, carrots, garlic, onion, potatoes, cauliflower , etc.
Some fruits that tend to last a bit longer are bananas (little hint, once they are ripe-put them in the fridge and they will keep much longer) apples, oranges, kiwi, pineapple, avocados.
Of course there's always frozen options as well. We've been buying more frozen food now than ever just because we can eat on it slowly, again without going to the store every couple of days.
You could make steamed veggies or fruit and veggie smoothies. Load those babies with some superfoods. Check out my loaded smoothie recipe for some ideas!
If you have a juicer — buying carrots, celery, cucumbers and apples are very inexpensive options for getting some fresh fruits and vegetables in and they last a long time in the fridge. You can make a big batch of fresh juice that will last you 3-4 days in the fridge. I drink my carrot apple celery juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach! There’s so many amazing health benefits to juicing, but that’s for another post!
Some other items that keep for a long time:
Frozen meats and seafood, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, tuna, dried or frozen pastas and dried grains like quinoa, cuscus and rice.
Yogurt or cottage cheese keeps a long time. I always suggest Nancy’s yogurt for two reasons. #1 they don’t add a bunch of sugar and #2 they are a local company that makes really good organic products with wholesome ingredients.
If you need some inspiration for some healthy meals using longer lasting ingredients, here are some of our go to's:
Homemade “Yumm” bowls! You can really get creative and use so many different kinds of ingredients for a long time. For example olives, black beans and rice. You can also make a really good breakfast Yumm bowl with scrambled eggs.
Eggs! So many eggs. They keep for a long time, give you great protein and other vitamins and nutrients (including vitamin d which we all need more of in this grey and rainy climate). We buy 4 dozen at a time. Side note, look for “pasture raised” eggs. Organic is a bonus, but when you purchase pasture raised vs. "cage free" or "free range” You can really ensure you’re getting a product from an animal living a full life and producing a quality food for your consumption. Egg ideas.... You can make a quiche and load it with veggies. These can last up to a 4-5 days in the fridge or even longer in the freezer. Hard boiled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, omelets and so on.
Canned Tuna. A really good canned food that can keep you full for longer with its dense protein. You can spice this up with some sliced avocado and put it on a slice of sourdough bread.
Grass-fed beef can be used for tacos, nachos, enchiladas, Yum bowls, cheeseburgers, meatloaf, meatballs etc.
Other meats like chicken have endless possibilities. Too many to list.
2. Have healthy snacks ready to go
Because let’s face it, you’re making more trips to the kitchen than you were before.
Check out my separate post The Secrets to Easy & Nutritious Snacking. I have tons of ideas for both fridge snacks and cupboard snacks.
In our fridge we have a bin with perishable snacks and in our cupboard we have another container with dry snacks.
Finding protein snacks will keep you fuller longer and give your body what it really needs so you aren’t coming back in 30 minutes for something else.
Pro tip for snacking: portion out your snacks. If you buy a container of nuts, grab handfuls out of your bin and place them in small containers with the suggested serving size. If you buy applesauce in a big container, put it in single serving portions or buy the pouches instead. This is especially helpful for kids snacks. Sometimes they can just go ham and eat and eat and eat.
If you find yourself hungry and constantly going to the kitchen for snacks, having easily accessible snacks helps. If you eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, its ok to indulge here and there.
3. How can I make this better?
The number one thing I tell my clients: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask yourself, "How can I make this meal better?"
The reason you want to do this now is, if you’re filling your body with what it actually needs, you’re less likely to crave the junk.
Having a more complete meal, that’s more nutrient dense will keep you full longer and give you more bang for your buck.
Here are some examples:
If it’s a smoothie, add an avocado, or a powdered protein or powdered green mix, maybe some fish oil or frozen broccoli.
For eggs, make a scramble but use up the left overs from last nights dinner for a nutritious bowl or egg & vegetable stir fry.
Make something fried or sautéed in coconut oil (yeay for healthy fats) instead of vegetable oil.
Add flax meal to baked goods or your pancake mix in the morning. We love Kodak Jacks protein pancake mix. You can mix the powder with milk and eggs to get added protein plus the flax meal for that added fiber!
In essence, fill your body up with what it needs first and you’ll have dramatically lower cravings for the not so healthy foods.
4. Get creative!
Find new recipes or create your own or start making them your own. Have fun in the kitchen.
If you find a recipe that calls for potatoes, try sweet potatoes instead, switch it up. Add more seasonings, or put different vegetables in it.
If you’re baking more, try experimenting with whole wheat flour and flax meal for your baked goods. Switch out sugar for honey. If you have a small family, or you’re just one person, bake something and split it up and drop it off on someone’s porch with a nice note. Not only are you doing an act of kindness to brighten someone’s day, but you don’t have an entire loaf of banana bread or a whole batch of cookies to eat yourself.
Challenge yourself to use the foods you have or substitute ingredients in your fridge or cupboard before making another trip to the grocery store.
And last but certainly not least…..
Stay active! Exercise for at least 30-60 minutes per day. This could be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood to doing some body weight strength training in your living room or garage. Just keep that body moving.
You can walk every day, in fact you should. Maybe use it as a way to have some time to self reflect. Leave your phone on silent, no music just you and your thoughts. Or go with your family for some time to connect.
Add some sort of strength training program to your days and do it 2-3 times per week. Check out this video from Coach Jason at Art of War MMA and Fitness on doing a full body workout using items around your home.
In addition, here are some pages to follow on IG for functional fitness for strength training programs.
You could also find a personal trainer who offers remote coaching. They program you work outs that you complete on your own. You then check in with them through an app called TrueCoach. I know a pretty good trainer. Check out his instagram and contact him for personal training.
These tips aren't just for quarantine but can be used all the time. If you have other useful tips, I'd love to hear them!