Monday | 18 May | 2020
By Wilma Bedford
With 24 hours access to the fridge, the food cupboard and the liquor cabinet, the eating discipline that you maintained before the Covid-19 lockdown has come to an end; your eating routine has been disturbed and your midriff has undergone a considerable change. You ask yourself how this happened and the answer is twofold: you have been eating out of undisciplined boredom or real stress caused by job uncertainty and social restriction. In all probability there will not be a going back to the full normal as we knew it, but you can reclaim things like your health, routine and healthy eating patterns.
If from now on you will be working from home and the children are waiting to return to school, it is the time to get into a new routine regarding your eating habits. Use the lengthened lockdown to return to normal.
Plan your day so that you feel purposeful and the day is not another empty space in which you can eat out of boredom.
Begin by following a set routine for mealtimes. Take a lunch break at a set time. When working from home, the boundaries between working hours and personal time fade and to keep to the usual mealtimes becomes difficult. By now setting times for meals and exercise or recreation, you create a structure of normalcy in your day. A set mealtime prevents you overeating or succumbing to comfort eating and you could even look forward to your meal.
Also eat at a specific place, avoid eating at your work station. Purposefully eat meals with a high protein content and vegetables rich in fibre to help you feel satisfied for longer.
Avoid the temptation to order take-aways now that they are available because you don’t feel like donning a mask, social distancing and sanitising. Prepare meals at home; they are more nutritious and cheaper. Involve your family in the preparation; eating together strengthens family bonds. Plan meals for the day and buy accordingly. Focus on one thing per day, such as: Today I am going to eat sugar-free. Stick to your shopping list and avoid unhealthy or comfort foods.
We are inclined to understand self-control in moralistic terms – only weaklings succumb to temptation, a strong person will not pig out on the chocolate biscuit and fizzy cooldrink. The truth is that some people don’t have more self-control than others – they experience fewer temptations. You cannot practise yourself into self-control; rather first remove the temptation by establishing healthy habits, such as a controlled restriction on snacks. Ration yourself and the family by packing the day’s snacks in a container. Food with higher fibre and protein such as eggs and nuts will keep you satisfied for longer and prevent over-eating. Now is the time to phase out processed food, cookies and juices and to create the habit of phasing in healthier food, such as carrot sticks or baby vegetables for snacking if necessary.
Stay involved with extra-mural activities at set times as far as legal and possible; it draws attention away from comfort food.
How to eat normal again
Herrera, T. April 20- 2020. New York Times:Smarter Living. https://www.nyt.com
* All information was correct at the time of publication.