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Healthy Living

Fighting the "Quarantine 15"

“Quarantine 15 is the new freshman 15”. “Gonna’ gain the ‘COVID 19’ after eating all my quarantine snacks.” You may have seen sayings or memes like these online, in part to spark a bit of laughter in the midst of the bleak news landscape we now find ourselves in, but also in part reflective of the true challenges many are now experiencing with regards to maintaining healthy habits and avoiding unwanted weight gain.

During these unprecedented times, we are all doing our best to adjust to our new day-to-day realities. Limited trips to the grocery store may lead to reliance on less fresh and more shelf stable foods. Closed gyms and safer at home measures are likely resulting in decreased physical activity. Distressing new updates and adjustments in both home and work environments may be accompanied by increased anxiety, stress, and emotional eating.

As our normal routines and structures are rattled, it can be challenging to stay healthy. Though priorities are appropriately different at this time, taking small measures to stay healthy is one of the best ways to help keep your body at its strongest during a crucial time like the present.

Here are 5 simple suggestions to get you started:

  1. Create structure – If your eating routine has been thrown off by working from home or safer at home measures, creating your own gentle structure around eating can help get you back on track. Plan to eat your meals around the same time each day and set designated snacks times to avoid grazing throughout the day.
  1. Get creative while getting active – Since you may not be able to engage in your usual workout routine, find creative ways to get active at home. Participate in Denise Austin’s TMMC workout videos (available on Torrance Memorial YouTube Channel) or experiment with online dance videos (think Zumba, ballroom dance tutorials, line dance, etc.) or even try chair exercises or Pilates online. Taking a walk around your neighborhood (maintaining social distance of course!) or doing a deep clean of your house can also get you moving!
  1. Stock up on real food – As you are likely purchasing larger amounts of food than normal, don’t just stock up on convenience foods like frozen pizza, boxed mac and cheese, and ramen (though a few healthy frozen meals might be ok in case you become ill and are unable to cook). Try to stock up on healthier yet still practical items like frozen vegetables and meats, low sodium canned beans, natural nut butters, oatmeal/quinoa and other shelf stable whole grains, shelf stable milks, and longer-lasting perishables like apples, oranges, carrots, garlic/onions, and freezable breads (whole wheat bread, English muffins, pita, even tortillas can be frozen!).
  1. Combat boredom eating – If you find yourself with more time on your hands than usual and find yourself eating out of boredom, consider making a plan to combat this behavior. Know your triggers and what time they usually strike, then create a simple plan like choosing to do a little walk, participate in a hobby, or connect with a friend via video chat instead of eating. Spend time in a room that is not in or adjacent to the kitchen if possible.
  1. Stay realistic and have grace – Your eating/exercise habits are not going to be perfect during this time. It may not be the best time to pursue aggressive weight loss; perhaps weight maintenance is a more realistic goal. You might feel triggered to eat more by having more food stored in the house or perhaps you are more tired from the unspoken stress you are experiencing. Try to have grace and be gentle with yourself during this time. Even small measures to stay healthy are worthwhile.

If you have questions or are interested in learning more techniques to help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office or our Diabetes Self-Management Program located in the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707.