Enduring self-quarantine in your house with a stash of food while bored and anxious? This combination can lead to troublesome weight gain for those of us who love to eat, and for those of us who stress eat.  As we Netfilx and fill (our bellies,) we may find ourselves starting to be concerned not only about what coronavirus does to our lungs, but also our waistlines.  When quarantine ends, we don’t want to face other health issues, like inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, all of which are exacerbated by over eating and eating unhealthy food.

How can a foodie in crisis confinement with a stack of delicious, ready to eat snacks avoid overeating and weight gain?

Here are 3 ideas to help you get started maintaining food sanity and healthy eating while in quarantine:

  1. DECIDE NOT TO OVEREAT. This might sound simple, but it’s an important mindset to lock in.  Set your mind on intentional, healthy eating behavior.  Decide your path. Journaling exercise: Write down what you would like your body to look and feel like when quarantine is over. Examine the description. Is your current eating behavior helping you reach that end goal? If not, changing your mind about how you are going to eat during quarantine will help you when temptations arise.   
  2. MAKE A FOOD LIST AND A FOOD SCHEDULE. Be as detailed or as open to interpretation as you like, but write down the following: 1) a list of foods you will eat and 2) when you will eat.   Journaling exercise 1: Make a list of safe, healthy foods you will eat during quarantine that you have available. These are healthy foods that are good for your body and don’t make you want to eat more food. These are your green light foods, eat in peace. Make a second list of foods you will allow yourself only under certain circumstances or at certain times. For example: “I allow myself 1 small piece of chocolate after dinner,” or  “I will allow myself a portion of popcorn while I watch TV at night.”  These are your yellow light foods, eat with caution. When you are full and satisfied, prepare these foods in pre-made portions that you can use when the time comes to enjoy.  Pre-packing these foods will save you from mindlessly eating from a bag, or taking more than you intended when a severe craving hits.  Lastly, make a third list of foods you are not going to eat during quarantine. These are your red light foods, red means stop. If you are overeating these foods or they are causing unnecessary weight gain, push the pause button on eating foods from this list until quarantine is over. Journaling exercise 2: Make a food schedule that you will generally follow. What time will you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? What time will you snack if you decide to snack? Having a healthy food list and following a food schedule can dramatically change your health outcome when quarantine is over.
  3. ENLIST YOUR LOVING INNER VOICE WHEN SPEAKING TO YOURSELF: If you overeat, or eat something that wasn’t on your plan, immediately put it behind you and move forward toward the next healthy step. This is unknown territory for all of us. As you learn to eat with wellness in mind while in quarantine, remember you are trying something new and and new events will arise to disrupt your plan. If you make a decision you regret later, speak kindly to yourself, let it go, forgive yourself and move to your next healthy meal with gratitude and peace.  Instead of focusing on the mistake, think about the successes you’ve achieved already. Believe you are making a difference in your health, your future and your sanity. You have seen success managing your food and food intake schedule in the past, and you will experience that success again and again with practice, persistence and positivity. Journaling exercise: Write about a time you had success making a difficult food choice in the past. What did you do to get through the moment of temptation victoriously? How did you feel after you followed through on the difficult but healthy eating choice? What can you take with you from this past success and use as a tool when you face your next surprise eating temptation?

Be encouraged! These are unusually difficult times and we are all looking for comfort and peace. For those of us who love food, the sad truth is, food only gives us comfort and peace temporarily. I wish chocolate made me feel better for 24 hours, but really, it’s effect only lasts about 2 minutes, if that. The challenge we face is that many of us are in the habit of going food for comfort, so when we need a lot of comfort we assume we need a lot food. This isn’t the case. No amount of food is going to make COVID-19 go away. Food isn’t the solution. There are other ways to comfort ourselves that are lasting and healthy. Need ideas? Stay tuned for my next blog where I will share some self comfort strategies you can try that are not food related. See you then… and remember, you can do this. You have the desire to be healthy and you can be.  Plan ahead and do your best to follow that plan. Life will happen, it always does, but remember, you have overcome in the past, and you will over come again.  

Julia Fikse is a Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach ©2020.  Julia is not a therapist or a doctor and this blog cannot and should not in any way replace doctors advice. 

Need more support? Contact me to see if personalized health coaching might be a good fit for you.