Were you warned about the ‘freshman 15’ your first year of college?
Well, what about the ‘quarantine 15?’ Let’s think about this… you’re confined to your home, with lots of food (including lots of chocolate if you’re me) in a time of crisis. What could go wrong?!
It’s normal to turn to comfort food for stress relief during these uncertain times. AND…
Eating comfort food in excess, may provide comfort in the short term, but can also provide weight gain in the body and unhelpful emotions in the mind.
We must stay healthy to keep our immune systems strong, and have a clear, courageous mind to weather this storm.
I love food, have a big sweet tooth and these strategies are helping me avoid putting on the ‘quarantine 15.’ I know… but we need a bit of humor right now. 🙂
So, if you also want to avoid the ‘quarantine 15’ read on.
Know Your Sweet and Salty
For most of us, our first taste is the sweet taste of our mother’s milk. For many of us, this sweet taste is associated with being held against a warm body and being loved. No wonder we turn to sweet taste when we’re stressed!
According to Ayurveda the qualities of sweet taste are oily, cooling, wet and heavy. If you eat sweet taste in excess you’ll be cultivating these qualities in your body, while also cultivating emotional attachment, greed and possessiveness in the mind. Sounds kind of icky doesn’t it?
For those of you who prefer salty snacks, according to Ayurveda the qualities of salty taste are heating, oily and hydrophilous (which is another way of saying water retention). If you eat salty taste in excess you’ll be increasing these qualities in your body, as well as the qualities of anger and irritability in the mind.
What you eat turns into your body. Think about that for a moment. This knowledge gives you more power in making mindful choices.
Practice Mindful Eating
One way to make empowered eating choices is to slow down and practice mindful eating.
If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that it has forced humanity to slow down. This is a good time to accept this slowing down and embrace mindfulness practices around food.
Take the time to smell your food, be with your food and CHEW your food. No multitasking during meals!
Digestion starts in the mouth with the release of the enzyme amylace. Don’t cheat yourself out of important nutrients by swallowing big chunks of food really fast. Your body can’t digest big chunks effectively.
When you slow down you’ll notice that you feel full with less food, you’ll become aware of the quality of your food and you’ll enjoy the taste of your food more.
Want to know more about Mindfulness Practices, check out the mindfulness section in the online course Vibrant Body Empowered Mind.
Stop Snacking Between Meals
If you slow down and are more mindful around food, you also become aware of why you eat.
Most snacking isn’t done because you’re hungry, but because you’re feeling an emotion that isn’t comfortable. It could be boredom, fear, stress or even excitement (an excuse to celebrate a win with a treat).
Ask yourself to discern between emotional eating and true hunger.
Consider that it takes 6 hours for a meal to fully digest. If you eat within 3 hours of your last meal you’re overloading your system and it gets gummed up. Optimal digestion = greater immune health.
If you want a stronger immune system then protect the effectiveness of your digestive tract by waiting 3 – 4 hours between meals. Ideally, you can wait 4 – 5 hours between meals.
I’m going to venture to say that if you’re reading this blog you’re not going to die of hunger anytime soon. Start to make friends with the cleansing and energizing feeling of being a little hungry. According to yoga and Ayurveda, we do our best work when our stomachs are empty.
If you want more info on time restricted eating check out the book The Circadian Code by Dr. Satchin Panda
Do This Instead of Snacking
When you notice yourself reaching for comfort food because of stress or uncomfortable emotions, try this instead:
- Go for a walk
- Do a short meditation – 1 – 5 min.
- Do a short relaxation like legs-up-the-wall
- Do a quick dance party
- Make and drink a cup of herbal tea
- Call or text a friend
After doing one of these activities instead, if you no longer feel the urge to eat, then you weren’t really hungry.
Self-care is key to health and immunity during stressful times. These activities will help curb snacking by addressing the underlying stress.
Bottom line: The above practices boost your health, while mindless, emotional snacking diminishes your health.
Let me be clear – there is no right or wrong. There are only choices. Sometimes I choose the chocolate snack and I enjoy every bit of it. I’m choosing that the emotional benefits outweigh the negative benefits in that moment.
It’s important to experience joy and comfort when we really need it. The deal is, I’m accepting of the outcome of my choice, not ignorant or in denial.You get to choose fully and joyfully, whatever your choice!
Use Bowls Instead of Plates
For optimal digestion and health according to Ayurveda, eat a small breakfast, large lunch and small dinner. I eat out of bowls instead of plates to help me with portion control.
The small sea turtle bowl (from my favorite Caribbean Island – Barbados) is my breakfast and dinner bowl. The larger blue bowl is my lunch bowl.
I’ve learned over the years that the portions that fit in these bowls works for me, even when I’m doing more intensive exercise. It’s the quality of the food you eat that counts, not so much the quantity.
Now that we’ve been asked to slow down and stay home, most of us aren’t doing our regular intensity of exercise – even more reason to practice portion control.
This time is giving us the opportunity to cultivate awareness around our eating habits and our health. I hope these Ayurvedic strategies help you, and me, avoid the ‘quarantine 15!
Optimizing your health and immunity is super important right now. I can help you with a customized health and immunity boosting plan based on your unique constitution and the season. Right now I’m offering 50% off my Ayurveda coaching services. Click here to learn more.