Moderation for ‘D’ LOCKDOWN
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
“Don’t count the days; make the days count!” Muhammed Ali - World Heavyweight Boxing champion
The Covid-19 quandary
We are now full swing into this dreaded LOCKDOWN. Some of us perhaps met it in good physical shape, while others may have been caught off-guard, meeting it with the 'non-best' physical version of ourselves.
Whichever your situation, it’s now become easy to fall into a rut and lose focus on our nutrition. The end result could very well be, the consumption of excess calories. This leads us to become frustrated with the accompanying drop in fitness levels and less than ideal physique.
Moderation is key
This being said, the first step out of this predicament, is to ready ourselves to battle temptation. The key strategy for victory here, is to exercise moderation.
Doing this when faced with lush, tempting, homecooked Trinbagonian cuisine, during the current confinements, could be a challenge in itself! Exercising moderation here, could also directly contribute toward curbing lifestyle-related diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
Attempting to completely resist temptation is an admirable concept, but could prove to be 9 out of 10 times, futile and unrealistic.
Let us consider some simple tactics which could lead us to victory…
Use smaller plates and smaller glasses
As trivial as this may sound and regardless of the size, this can lead our minds to now register these smaller food portions as the ‘new normal’ ones! The same principle can be applied to high calorie alcoholic drinks; opt for the smaller glass as opposed to the larger one. You will now consume less per serving. There are studies which actually show that people tend to pour less liquid in tall thin glasses than short stocky ones.
Try not to skip meals or eat when famished
While some of us may have extra time on our hands during this period, others may get totally engrossed with work commitments or hobbies. If you fall into this group, you should always be cognizant of time, and keep well-nourished during these activities. Failure to do so, will cause intense hunger later in the day and quite likely foster binge eating.
Why put yourself in that predicament? A good combat strategy here, could be to at least have a quick serving of fruit or yoghurt, or have healthy snacks such as nuts and grains readily available.
During this period, ensure your potassium intake is sufficient. This nutrient counterbalances sodium (salt) which is quite prevalent in a lot of our local dishes such as 'pig tail pelau’. By doing this, your body would now retain less water.
Excess ‘water weight’ could make you feel and look overweight. Fruits such as bananas and papayas are a good source of this mineral. Here you can also consider natural diuretics like asparagus.
Trim fats off meats
You may find yourself generally cooking more or having a lot more ‘movie nights’ during 'D' LOCKDOWN. This will inevitably involve prepping your favourite appetizers, ‘cutters’ and snacks. If you are preparing meat based options, try to use non fatty meats and trim the excess fat from your meats.
Use herbs and spices to season and flavour
Whatever dishes you are preparing, explore the option of substituting oil, creams or butter with herbs and spices. Your taste buds may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!
Fresh fish or seafood
Try to include more fish or seafood on the menu. A key objective here, would be to reduce the amount of ‘red meat’ consumption. This puts less stress on your digestive system.
Don't prepare a lot of food!
This will lead to overconsumption or consuming everything, simply because it is there! Be realistic and practical in your catering and prep your meals and snacks accordingly. This leads us to the next point of…
Avoiding morning-after food
Lauren Slayton -MS, RD, Sports Nutritionist and founder of Foodtrainers (New York City), stresses that "It's the leftovers that do you in!". Excess prepping leads us directly into this trap.
Don't go ‘cold turkey’ on desserts
Going ‘cold turkey’ on these scud missiles, could again, more often than not, prove to be an unrealistic approach. The variety of tasty treats, which may be on offer during 'D' LOCKDOWN, would also not help the situation. It could in fact also lead us to binge during our weaker moments.
A more realistic approach here could be applying Dr Zuckerbrot's (dietitian and author of The Miracle Carb Diet), ‘three-bite rule’; this could go a long way in keeping our sweet tooth cravings well managed. She states that by doing this, "you'll get that amazing first taste, a satisfying middle one, and then a lingering third bite…"
Eat to savour
Consider simply changing the way you eat; mindful eating aids weight loss. So chew slowly and try always to exercise self-control. Pace yourself and wait before grabbing seconds; go for a stroll; scroll through your phone!. The faster you consume, the less time your body has to register satisfaction. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to process your true nourishment level. So slow it down and take time to savour each bite.
Make time for quick exercise routines
According to fitness advisor Dr Church, “Even just 15 minutes can help you maintain your fitness level…". He highlights that skipping for 15 minutes eradicates about 190 calories and a quick yoga sequence at home can maintain flexibility.
A good strategy is to execute this first thing in the morning. A study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal, indicated that morning exercise is linked to more positive behaviour during the day.
Using brain scans, researchers found that when women worked out in the morning, they moved more during the day and responded less to pictures of tempting food. The opposite held for the days they didn't do a morning workout. A labour intensive household chore can also be substituted here.
With the current restrictions, this can be quite easily achieved...so get your daily workouts in!
Avoid TV binge eating
As suggested earlier, TV time may very likely increase during the pandemic. This pastime can easily lead to overeating and poor eating choices. Again, be cognizant of this and pre determine your portions; avoid excessive high calorie food, drinks and snacks. A point to note here is that diet sodas can cause ‘belly bloat’.
Alcohol in moderation
Alcohol consumption seems to be on the rise for some of us during this time. Keep in mind that alcohol contains a lot of calories; some more than others. Again, choose wisely here! Sweet wines for instance have a high calorie count. In contrast, clear spirits such as vodka are quite low in calories.
Another reason for moderate drinking is that excessive drinking can lead us to easily let down our guard around food and start eating irresponsibly.
Drinking water helps you feel full and hence consume less. It is also a much healthier option than juices and fizzy drinks. These contribute to body fat and even high blood pressure.
For every glass of alcohol or soft drink, adopt the habit of chugging a glass of water. This would dilute these substances in your system and allow for easier processing and flushing.
Get your sleep
Sleep routines could also get derailed during this period. Research in this field indicates that persons who maintain regular sleep routines have less body fat than those who don’t. Be cognizant of this and try not to compromise your sleep routines with excess phone and iPad stimulation at night. Just out the lights and listen to some audio books instead! Also critical here, would be getting those exercise routines in during the day to expel that excess energy.