Shit is not good right now. I’m not sure where you are but I hope you and your loved ones are taking the necessary precautions to keep yourselves safe as well as help keep those around you safe. I know this drum has been beaten repeatedly but we are all in this together.
I know this is a shitty situation but I am someone who attempts to look for silver lining where I can. I feel this is a good opportunity to strengthen a lot of my practices and attempt to develop new ones. This post is going to be me laying out my advice for how to get through this time without totally sacrificing your health progress. We will be covering Timing, Portion, and Quality. I feel these are the three pillars to good diet practices.
NOTE: I am in no way trying to imply that everyone can follow these practices or that they should work for everyone. This is my method and I just wanted to share it. Always do what works for you – make it yours.
The idea here is very simple: be aware of how much time you put in-between meals. When I look back at my pre-hero days, it was clear that I never cared about this. I’d eat a meal and then less then an hour later grab some kind of snack or potentially eat my next meal less then two hours later. This overlapping of calories can easily cause you to eat more then you actually need in the day. This is particularly troublesome now since most people are trying to limit runs to the store. What is very important with timing is to give your body a chance to fully process what you ate and let it register that it is full. When I finish eating I like to check the clock and make a mental note of when the next meal is. I recommend four hours between meals with a snack at the two hour mark. This timing helps the day move along and also gives you a solid point of when to look forward to food (something that can happen a lot if you are particularly bored). It also will help remind you to just “wait a bit longer” if you are feeling the urge to eat and haven’t gotten to those timings.
As a bonus note there is some general knowledge (that I have found true in practice) that major macros have different timings of their own. Carbs tend to give us a full feeling quicker but will drop off sooner. Proteins have a good average of time to feel them and how long they last. Fats have the slowest time to register but will last much longer. That last bit really opened my eyes when I thought about the heavy meals I used to eat and how I could down so much before suddenly realizing how full I was.
Now this one is something everyone hears a lot: portion control. In theory a very simple concept – just eat a reasonable amount. I started my portion control discipline by using meal prep containers. This was basically 1 cup protein, 1 cup carb, 2 cups veggies. There are several guides for proper amounts but what is important is really getting the sizes right. For starters try to use the serving sizes listed on nutrition labels for each food. Stick to that amount as much as you can. Start busting out the measurement cups. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend you get a food scale. I know this sounds very obsessive but learning how to really gauge how much you are eating can be helpful.
Even if you don’t go nuts on the measuring part, what you can really do is focus on how you feel (the importance of Timing) after you eat. The more you become mindful of those hours after a meal the more you can gauge if the meal was big enough or composed properly. Really try to learn to say no to that extra handful if you know you have really hit what you needed. Keep fine tuning your portions.
Controlling this will give you yet another edge in not burning through your stock of food too quickly.
This can seem pretty dumb advice in this time of limited food but I think it still sticks: try to focus on the nutritional quality of your food. It is very possible with the types of food we have out there to be caloric satisfied but nutritionally starved. Focusing on minimizing the processed food you eat and working with whole ingredients will go a long way in improving your overall state of being. I also find that focusing on these types of foods will lean your towards healthier options and help reduce your overall calorie intake. Basically dump the chips if you can.
When it comes to your meals be mindful of the composition of them. What are the macros being represented? How much of each do you have? Can you adjust amounts to make the composition better. Yes you can eat a whole bowl of white rice but with no protein or healthy fats you will be starving shortly after. Always think about bang for your buck as much as you can.
Bonus Credit: Tracking
I started calorie tracking in February 2020 as part of a weight loss challenge at work and to learn to step up my game for the 2nd year of my journey. I have found it to be incredibly helpful in this time. By being as diligent as I can I’m keeping track of my total amounts and learning what macros give me a more balanced day. I can plan my day the night before which helps alleviate food anxiety and keeps me in check from taking too much food from our wares. If you are keen on going nuts like me it can be a great tool to learn more about your eating habits.
This is a pretty shitty time. I know I’ve already said that but it just really is. If you can try not to let it take everything – especially your health. Food in these times can be a source of a comfort but can also become a vice. I have found these habits – Timing, Portion, and Quality – to be the best weapons to keep it in check. I hope this helps in some small way. Please stay safe!