The economic and productive impact that COVID-19 has generated in the world is indisputable. But there is another factor that affects people’s productivity: the stress caused by this new normal.
Since families stay together all day at home, with constantly changing work and school hours, an inconsistent daily routine can increase anxiety and disrupt healthy eating.
This uncertainty can increase stress, which in turn can damage healthy eating plans and damage the body, affecting the immune system and making it even harder to protect against disease, says Susan Bowerman, Herbalife Senior Director of Education and Nutrition. Global nutrition training.
And since a healthy immune system depends on a nutrient-dense diet, good nutrition is one of the best defenses against disease.
However, that is easier said than done, acknowledges Bowerman.
Stress can also cause fatigue or depression; Therefore, healthy eating can take second place to fast or comfort foods, often loaded with fat, salt, and sugar. And if you choose caffeine to combat fatigue, it can also fail because it disturbs your sleep.
These high-calorie, comfort foods can stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the brain that make us feel good, at least in the short term, and that we want to keep eating.
But a vicious cycle develops: overeating can lead to weight gain, accentuating psychological stress, and in turn, you can continue to overeat.
Although you can’t de-stress, you can follow these five tips to help you manage your response to illness.
• Choose balanced meals. Try to include lean proteins, such as chicken, eggs, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, vegetables, or soy products, at every meal. Protein quenches hunger and helps you stay mentally alert. Complete the meal with fresh fruits and vegetables and cereals.
• Eat regularly and don’t skip meals. When you’re stressed, it’s easy to postpone or skip meals, but this will lower your energy levels, and you may end up overeating when you finally eat. If stress takes away your appetite, try eating smaller portions more often throughout the day.
• Avoid using food to reduce stress. Instead, a brisk walk or a cup of herbal tea can help. If you feel like eating, hard, crunchy foods help relieve stress by exercising tight jaw muscles. Try eating a handful of almonds, soybeans, or baby carrots as a snack.
• Cut down on caffeine. When people are stressed, they often lack energy and turn to caffeine as an energizer, but this can disrupt sleep. If caffeine keeps you sleeping at night, drink decaffeinated coffee and tea.
• Try to make eating a pleasant time away from work and other sources of stress. If you eat at the table while you work or pay bills at dinner, something has to change. Take a little more time to calm down and relax while eating; you are likely to eat less and have more fun.