The economic and productive impact that COVID-19 has generated around the world is indisputable. But there is another factor that affects people’s productivity: the stress caused by this new normal.
As families stay together all day at home, with constant changes in work and school hours, an inconsistent daily routine can increase anxiety and disrupt healthy eating.
This uncertainty can increase stress, which in turn can interfere with healthy diets and damage the body, affecting the immune system and making it even harder to protect against disease, says Susan Bowerman, senior director of education and health. nutrition at Herbalife. . Global nutrition education.
And since a healthy immune system depends on a nutrient-dense diet, good nutrition is one of the best defenses against disease.
Easier said than done, however, admits Bowerman.
Stress can also cause fatigue or depression; Therefore, healthy eating can take second place to fast or comfort foods, which are generally loaded with fat, salt and sugar. And if you choose caffeine to combat fatigue, it can also fail because it interrupts 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, increased psychological stress, and in turn, continue to overeat.
While you can’t eliminate 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 quells 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 it will lower your energy levels and you could end up overeating when you finally eat. If stress is cutting off 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 your caffeine intake. When people are stressed, they often lack energy and turn to caffeine as an energizer, but it can disrupt sleep. If caffeine keeps you awake at night, drink decaffeinated coffee and tea.
• Try to make your meal enjoyable, away from work and other sources of stress. If you eat at the table while you work or pay bills during dinner, something must change. Set aside some extra time to calm down and relax while you eat; they are likely to eat less and have more fun.