The New York Post calls it the Quarantine 15. As insensitive as it sounds to worry about gaining weight while working from home when people are getting sick and are worried about loved ones, it’s our responsibility to stay strong and healthy, to take care of others. And part of being healthy is choosing healthy foods, exercising, and not stress-eating our way through this crisis.
If my number of trips to the kitchen is any indication,15 is the least of what I’m likely to gain. I literally have not stopped eating since I moved my work to my home last week. Breakfast generally starts out okay, of a little granola and almond milk (unsweetened) but then by mid-morning I am pulling out the chips, leftover (plant-based) pasta with Gardein crumbles, vegan party mix, and before I know it I’ve eaten the equivalent of four or five meals before 4 p.m.
What? How did I let this happen? Every day I resolve to do better, make a healthy protein-packed, green and berry smoothie, and I start out feeling like I have the best of intentions. And every day, whether on conference calls or just sitting writing and editing, answering emails or straightening up (I do a lot of that), I find myself traipsing back to the cupboard, looking for something healthy, reaching for something carb-laden like the bag of tortilla chips that never seems to go into the garbage. Salty, stale and crunchy, they hit the spot.
Before the isolation began, I managed to “intermittent fast” and lose some weight
For help in this situation (I can’t even blame stress eating, since I think it’s more “bored eating” I sent a plaintive missive asking for “help” to my new favorite diet doctor, Dr. Jason, Fung, MD, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) and one of the world’s leading intermittent fasting experts who has written three best-selling health books and he co-founded the Intensive Dietary Management program. His newest book, Life in the Fasting Lane, co-authored with Eve Mayer and Megan Ramos, tells you everything you need to know to use this technique to get to and maintain a healthy weight and stay energized.
Dr. Fung’s first interview with The Beet had put me on the right track. I started eating during a window between about 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and then not eating for the other 16 hours on the clock. This method helped me slim down, fit into my jeans better and find myself with more energy and focus. I don’t weigh myself but I can always tell how my maintenance plan is doing by how my clothing fits.
The IF method helped me fit into my jeans better, without craving junk food and this way of eating lets me feel like I was in total control of my body, my diet, and my health. I have never been a keto dieter, but IF is the most searched term of the past year, so it’s safe to say more people are using IF, either with or without their keto approach, because it works.
Then, I put myself on what feels like house arrest. It’s isolating and food is small comfort. So is babysitting my brother’s snuggly Italian Sheep Dog, Bonnie. She actually creates a distraction and keeps me calm and less bored, so I end up eating less when I am watching her, which would be my tip. Dog sit!
Yesterday I did not exit out of my four rooms all day. Which meant more time to circle past the kitchen and pantry for snacks. So here is what Dr. Fung has to share. And what I share with you. The idea is to put me back on track and help you avoid the inevitable desire to eat our way through the lockdown.
Here is Dr. Fung’s Advice on How To Stay On Track During The Coronavirus Isolation
1. Drink Tea, and lots of it! “I’ve been self-isolating and drinking lots of tea. The antioxidants in green tea may suppress the appetite, but it gives me something to ‘do’ instead of eating. I’ve replaced a bad habit with a harmless habit. I have gone back to drinking tea like an Asian, which is to brew a pot of tea and keep sipping it throughout the day.”
“When it is finished, I simply add more hot water to the tea leaves. I use a cup with a lid that keeps the tea hot. This is actually what I used to do as a student, when I spent many hours in my room studying, and the way my parents drink tea. I’ve also been changing up tea flavors every now and then. Pique Tea has some great fasting teas (I helped them develop them) with flavors like Bergamot Green and Cinnamon.”
3. Stay out of the kitchen. “Whatever you do, do NOT do your work or read or calls, etc. in the kitchen. That’s an open invitation to snack. I like to go into my study and allow my natural laziness to keep me from going into the kitchen. My other favorite thing to do is to snuggle up in a warm blanket to read or watch a movie, and my natural reluctance to get out of my warm ‘nest’ overcome my inclination to snack.”