• Kali Ah Yuen

The Quarantine Diet: Stay Healthy and Eat Clean During a Pandemic

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

If you’ve recently visited your local grocery store, you would know that it most likely looks like an apocalypse is about to go down. The shelves are bare with signs hung up limiting customers with a ‘one item per purchase’ basis. With the limited amount of stock, it’s a bit more challenging to put together a full meal that’s delicious and nutritious. But, it's not the end of the world (or is it?)

While the rest of the country stocks up on toilet paper, I stocked up on everything else they left - vegetables, fruits, and some proteins. Being aware of what you’re purchasing during self-isolation is SO important, especially since there is a lot of information we don’t know about the Coronavirus or how long we’ll be confined to our homes. In fact, The Nutrition Source from Harvard’s School of Public Health states that positive diet and lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of getting infected by any disease. The best benefit: you won’t feel like a couch potato after weeks of Netflix binges and the next sugar-craving snack in your pantry. 

Things tend to get weird the longer we’re stuck in isolation as staple ingredients like pasta noodles and sauce rapidly disappear from the shelves of grocery stores. However, it doesn’t bother us much. We like to see it as an opportunity to get creative! Here are some tips to consider in your days of ‘The Quarantine Diet’ to help you come out of isolation feeling better than ever:

Watch Your Intake

It can be easy to get lost in eating when all you have is time on your hands and the pantry is only four feet away. The temptation to stress-eat will be a big challenge for many of us. So, it’s important to stick to our daily routine of eating meals as we would outside of isolation. This includes when we eat and the portion sizes of what we eat. Avoid midnight snacks and try portioning out meals/snacks in containers - sometimes our minds go off in la-la land and before we know it, a whole can of Cheez Whiz is gone.

Set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As millennials and Gen Zs, we often forget to eat breakfast because of our multiple excuses, but there’s no room for that anymore. Breakfast gives you a mental edge by keeping blood sugar levels steady so that your focus and attention span improves. This will help make working from home almost as efficient as the office! Bonus: It also improves your mood during a time where falling into a bad headspace is easy.

Also, keep in mind that you aren’t going to be burning as many calories as you would on a normal day since you’re quarantined to your house. That being said, if you’re trying to stay away from Quarantine 15, be mindful of your intake. 

Stock Up on Healthy Items

Prioritize fresh products. This is easy because unlike soup cans and bread, there’s probably an abundance of fresh products, like fruits, vegetables, and other produce. The key is to aim for products with plenty of nutrients and vitamins that you would normally get from popping a vitamin pill or chewing a gummy - if you know what I mean, shoutout Flinstone’s. An article by Outside suggests incorporating vitamins A (ex: sweet potatoes, red peppers), C (ex: broccoli, oranges), and E (ex: sunflower butter), in your diet as all three are potent antioxidants to help combat inflammation and support immune system function.

If you don't want to leave your house, let alone your couch, try using Amazon to deliver your groceries, or consider signing up for community-supported agriculture if there is one available near you. (Side note: Amazon has filters that let you choose your items based on nutrition facts and calories per serving - cool right? Right.) Other food delivery services like Farmbox Direct, get the job done and start at a relatively affordable price of $48. They also include a variety of fresh produce from the garden. 

Everything that Comes After

With more time on our hands now than most of us have probably had in the past decade, we must be aware of what we’re putting into our bodies. We highly suggest meal planning and prepping ahead of time. Fresh herbs, many vegetables and fruits, milk and other dairy products all need to be used within the first couple weeks of buying it. Think carefully about how you’ll be putting these ingredients to use to prevent having to throw them away once they go bad. At the end of each week, or before you go grocery shopping again, look up healthy recipes that you can make with your remaining ingredients.

There are many ways to be conscious and consistent with your diet. Start a challenge with your friends! Instead of the “First Picture Challenge” with your boo that has been so popular on Instagram, start a “Healthy Meal Challenge”. This will help motivate and hold you accountable. 

Being cautious of HOW much you buy is just as important as WHAT you buy during the COVID-19 pandemic. School closures have impacted children all over the country who relied on government assistance for school meals. Many are left without jobs and are currently filing for unemployment as they are unable to sustain a decent living. If you have more than enough, consider giving back to the community at your local food bank. Together as a community, we can get through this. For any questions on how you can help out your community, reach out to us on Instagram at @thisisuproar.

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