When the pandemic hit, and we all had to stay home for a while, many of us turned to the kitchen to help us cope. The Internet exploded with sourdough and banana bread recipes. One of the fastest selling items in grocery stores (besides toilet paper and booze) was chocolate. We all, it seemed, wanted to do nothing but eat our feelings, Netflix, and chill.
As the days turned to weeks, and then months, and then finally, finally, things began to reopen, we shook ourselves from our COVID hibernation and took a good look in the mirror. Huh. The COVID 15 had come to visit, unwantedly depositing itself on our stomachs, hips and thighs. No bueno. We got better about our home exercise routine, and started getting to the gym once it opened up again. Awesome! But we know from experience that the old adage is absolutely true – you can’t out train a bad diet.
It’s time to reacquaint ourselves with a simple prescription for a healthy diet: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” In other words, back to the basics. It’s no mistake that CrossFit’s “Fitness in 100 Words” doesn’t start by saying get to the gym and lift weights – it starts with what you put in your mouth.
According to the New York Times: “The characteristics of what doctors call the metabolic syndrome — excess fat around the middle, hypertension, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and a poor cholesterol profile — suppress the immune system and increase the risk of infections, pneumonia and cancers. They’re all associated with low-grade, body-wide inflammation, and Covid kills by causing an overwhelming inflammatory response that disables the body’s ability to fight off pathogens.”
So it’s in our own best interests to get our diets back on track.
Keep it simple to begin with. Here are a few tips to help you get back on the nutritional fitness wagon:
- Shop the perimeter of the store. This means you avoid buying foods that are pre-packaged and processed, like frozen dinners or mac n cheese in a box. The exception I would make is that it’s perfectly acceptable to buy frozen fruits and veggies. They last longer and have a high nutrient value because they are frozen at their peak.
- Make sure you eat enough protein. When I work with clients, I find that on average, people aren’t eating enough. A good rule of thumb is at least .7g of protein per pound of body weight, and more if you’re athletic or want to lean out.
- Eat veggies or fruits at EVERY meal. If you’re like most people, veggies turn up maybe once a day, in a small amount. If you make a goal of adding some kind of vegetable or fruit to every meal, you’ll greatly increase your exposure to micronutrients, which are critical to good overall health. The more colors on your plate, the better!
- Get enough sleep. At least 8 hours a night, or close. What is this doing on a nutrition list? If you don’t get enough sleep, everything else suffers, including your body’s response to your improved diet.
- Drink plenty of water. But you don’t have to go overboard. Drink to quench thirst. If your urine is light yellow, and you’re rarely thirsty, you’re probably getting enough fluids. According to the Mayo Clinic, a general rule of thumb is around 4 liters of fluids per day for men and 3 for women.
As the saying goes, let food be thy medicine! There’s no better time than now to start.
New York Times: How Poor Diet Contributes to Coronavirus Risk
The Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day?