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Health and Fitness News

Lean in Quarantine

How to make healthy food choices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You’ve heard of the freshman 15, but now there’s the quarantine 15. Those who experience the quarantine 15 put on 15 pounds (or more) during quarantine. You may be one of the millions who’ve gained weight during the past few months and it’s no wonder. You’re stuck at home, stress levels are high, and gyms are closed. Take out, comfort foods, and convenience foods have been your go-to meals and sitting on the couch has become your nightly routine.

Even though you may have gained a few pounds, you can reverse the trend. You don’t have to be a victim of the quarantine 15. Start making healthy choices today to emerge from quarantine in better shape than when it started. Here’s how.

Think Ahead

There’s a lot to worry about these days with the virus, finances, and mental health. You may not feel like you have time or energy to plan healthy meals, but remind yourself it’s a lot easier to gain weight than to lose. A healthy lifestyle takes work, especially in the beginning. But once those changes become a habit, health becomes your default.

Instead of waiting until dinner time to figure out what to eat, take a few minutes to plan your week’s meals ahead of time and make a grocery list of what you need. As you read over your list, make sure each item will help you avoid the quarantine 15. If anything on your shopping list won’t keep you fit and trim, take it off your list.

Stock Up

You may not be making as many trips to the grocery store these days, but hopefully the store shelves are full again. As you do your shopping, stick to your list. Do the majority of your shopping around the outer edges of your grocery store, as this is where you’ll find whole foods. Processed, packaged foods and probably most of your favorite comfort foods are located in the middle aisles.

Stay away!

As you shop, make sure your cart is filled with fresh or frozen produce, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. When your kitchen is stocked with healthy options, you won’t be as tempted to order take out or pop in a microwave meal at the last minute.

Stop Emotional Eating

Much of the weight gained during quarantine can be blamed on emotional eating. When you’re bored, scared, lonely, or stressed, you’re more likely to overeat or indulge in high-calorie foods. You may be stuck at home, missing your friends, and scared of the future, so yummy food provides a bright spot in your day, takes your mind off your fears, and makes you feel better for a few minutes.

It’s this type of eating that’s dangerous for your waistline. Adopt healthy ways of managing your negative emotions. Exercise is the perfect coping strategy. Instead of eating another bag of chips, go for a walk around your neighborhood. Before eating, make sure you’re truly physically hungry and not just trying to satisfy a craving.

Learn to Cook

Maybe you’ve never spent much time in the kitchen and prefer to eat out or order take out. The extra time you’re spending at home provides the perfect opportunity to learn new skills in the kitchen. Research healthy, simple meals and find a few that you’d like to try. The internet is full of information to guide you if you’re unsure how to prepare a certain dish.

Preparing your own meals is the best way to watch what you eat. You know exactly what ingredients are used and you’re able to limit or avoid sodium, unhealthy fats, processed foods, and added sugars.