These are certainly unusual circumstances we have found ourselves living in. Our new normal is hunkering down, staying in our homes, and experiencing a higher calling to be creative and flexible with our nutrition. Now more than ever is a time to keep the structure and focus on your meal plan. Here are some of our top recommendations from our CEDARS expert dietitians on how to manage your nutrition during this national health crisis.
Establish a structure: As hours turn to days and days turn to weeks, we are surely feeling the effects of a loose and almost too relaxed environment. To help stabilize your nutrition and recovery, do your best to keep with your pre-COVID structure of meals and snacks. If you do not typically follow any type of structure, now is a great time to establish one! Start by waking up and going to bed at the same time each day. Then, choose three times each day that you can realistically sit down for 15 to 20 minutes for your meals. Snacks can fall in between those times, giving yourself no more than 3-4 hour gaps without eating. Structure will help keep you accountable if you are struggling with anorexia or bulimia and will give you something to help ward off binges if you are struggling with binge eating disorder.
Take a food inventory: Take heed on the recommendations of limiting your time in busy areas such as supermarkets and convenience stores. Look at what you already have in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator and sit down to write everything out. Using what’s listed on paper, start creating breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal ideas for yourself. Be creative, but don’t over do it. This is not a time to be trying to prepare “the perfect meal“, try new recipes or tap into your gourmet abilities. Keep things simple and basic. If you are working with a dietitian, tap into his or her expertise to help you with ideas.
Make a Plan: Spend ten minutes each evening thinking about what you are going to eat the following day. This creates structure and accountability. If you are working from home, pack your food as if you were heading into the office. Eat what you’ve planned or packed to give you the sense that you are still in a routine.
Don’t get mad: There is no perfect way to manage this, and quite frankly, since we’ve never experienced anything like this before, there’s no plan to even refer to. Use this time to do your best, but don’t get mad at yourself when you don’t. Stay the course and take it one meal at a time. Stay in the moment and don’t forecast too far ahead into the future as this will only cause anxiety and reactive or impulsive behaviors.
It bears repeating that committing to structure and stability during this unpredictable time is clearly important during your recovery journey. At the end of this, (and IT WILL END), you want to be both a survivor of the pandemic and in a strongly rooted place in your recovery. Give yourself permission to eat, fuel your body and take care of your basic needs. Your body will thank you for it!