So before saying anything else: it is 100% ok if you’re comfort-eating all the chips, snacks, ice cream, and hearty meals you can handle.
In times of stress, it’s natural to turn to food as a form of relief. Stress can elevate levels of cortisol (AKA the stress hormone) in the brain, which can increase your appetite, causing you to seek out high-fat, sugary snacks — even if your body doesn’t necessarily need it.
And trust, if there’s any time when we’re a little stressed, it’s during a global pandemic.
That said, it feels good to be in control of your health, especially when things in life are topsy-turvy. So if you’re worried about gaining weight (more specifically, the #QuarantineFifteen), we’re here to help.
We spoke with Catrina McCrae, a holistic personal trainer, health coach, and co-founder of the Connection Project BC, about how to maintain a routine that will help you move more and eat healthier through the crisis.
Create morning routines and rituals
It may sound cliché, but morning really is the most important part of the day — and that counts for healthy eating and weight management, too. McCrae recommends creating a schedule so you wake up at the same time every day.
“Your morning ritual is the thing that you have to wake up for,” she says. “Doing something that nourishes your body, your mind, and your soul is super important.” Going to bed and waking up at the same time has an impact on your circadian rhythms, which in turn can affect your quality of sleep and hormone regulation.
Not sure where to begin? When you wake up, try drinking a tall glass of water and practicing a couple of minutes of deep breathing.
Move throughout the day
Three weeks into self-isolation and many of us are probably feeling some new aches and stiffness.
“When we’re bound to our physical spaces, it becomes really easy to not move,” says McCrae. She recommends trying to move intentionally for at least 30 minutes per day, whether that’s by following an online workout or jogging around the block.
Schedule meals and snack time
“Remember that when we’re not moving as much, our body doesn’t actually physically require as much food,” says McCrae. “It’s ok and it’s great to eat for comfort, however it depends on how often you’re doing that and what it is that you’re eating.”
For proper energy balance and food management, consider scheduling when you eat your meals and snacks throughout the day. Use mealtime as something to look forward to rather than something that just happens. This also means sitting with your food instead of snacking as you work.
Eating for comfort is “totally ok to do some of the time,” McCrae says. “It just matters what you do most of the time.”
Drink enough water
If there was ever a universal truth to weight management, it would be this one: drink more water. On her Instagram, McCrae constantly posts reminders to her clients to drink water and recommends intaking at least three litres per day.
Again, as we move less, we may not feel parched. “Just because you don’t feel thirsty, doesn’t mean you don’t need to be hydrated,” she explains.
If you struggle to drink enough water as it is, try adding a lemon wedge and a pinch of sea salt to your glass. In addition to adding flavour, “it helps to absorb water better when you have a little bit of salt in there,” says McCrae.
Breathe and be mindful
As a speaker on mental health, nutrition, and movement, McCrae takes a holistic approach with her clients — and that doesn’t change because of COVID-19.
She highlights the importance of spending some time alone each day — looking inward, breathing, or listening to a guided meditation.
“The act of very consciously connecting to your breath and to your body and maybe into any anxieties that you’re having is important, and might allow you to feel more in turn with your body throughout the day and make better decisions.”
You can learn more tips and tricks from McCrae by following her on Instagram, where she will be hosting live workshops on how to holistically get through COVID-19, as well as tips for movement and mindfulness.