How to Diet in Quarantine

Health and fitness are a challenge in any time, let alone a crisis that demands inactivity for the livelihood of people. We are all doing our part to ensure the safety of our neighbors, but physical and mental health is crucial to continue social distancing.

I’m a natural planner. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a written schedule and a plan. I think that’s made me uniquely suited to maintaining structure during this time we’re in, where it’s easy to forget what day it is, let alone what month it is. (It’s May right?)

Food and fitness are crucial to both physical and mental health. With that being said, I’ve never been a huge fitness guy (maybe it’s the sweat). Nevertheless, I maintain and have maintained my level of fitness throughout the quarantine by a couple of do’s and don’t’s that work for me and might be of some use to you. So without further ado:

My Quarantine Food Do’s and Don’ts:

Do: Use time to your advantage. 

If you’re like me, with most businesses shuttered during this time, you’re not going into work. With the extra time saved in commuting or not working at all, plan ahead when it comes to your meals.

This solar food scale from Muji is my go-to for home meals.

A great use of that time is utilizing a food scale. Food scales make it so much easier to get accurate representations of food portions. Whether you’re using the nutrition facts on the back of packaging or utilizing apps like MyFitnessPal, use the time to weigh your food.

You wouldn’t buy something without knowing the price, and likewise you should have some knowledge of caloric intake before you eat that second slice.

Don’t: Eat your normal amount of food.

Creating a plan and eating a diet that is the same as your normal active life is problematic during the quarantine. Although we can do our Instagram Live yoga classes and resistance band training, most people overestimate calories burnt while exercising. I personally average over 10,000 steps per day, and it’s difficult if not impossible to replicate that in an apartment or home. Cardio or High Intensity Interval Training burn calories at a high rate, but strength or resistant training don’t have as much of an impact in terms of calories burnt.

A huge impact on my physical fitness came when I learned my Base Metabolic Rate. Your base metabolic rate (or BMR) is essentially the calories your body burns in a state of inactivity. Your brain, liver, and all other organs require energy, so without lifting a finger your body burns calories just living. A number that always stuck in my mind was 2,000, that being the suggested calorie intake through servings. For many people, your BMR is nowhere close to 2,000 calories, and like me, having a slighter frame, my BMR is a little over 1,400 calories. A simple BMR Calculator can help you learn what your daily intake should be. Since this is an incredibly inactive period, try to hit at or above your BMR to not take on extra calories.

Do: Use recipes with calories added.

The internet is an amazing resource for recipes and likely can be a great resource for quarantine fitness. Google recipes with calories in the search, and this will save you time in estimating how many calories you’re eating. Food scale (and math for the matter) not necessary.

Don’t: Choose Easy Snacks

The easiest way to kill your diet is with snacking, but a smart way to eliminate urges is by choosing snacks that take prep. Chips, candy and cookies are quick to open and quick to eat, and can add calories quickly as well.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Hummus

Opt for snacks that take some prep work. That will eliminate sudden urges and will likely be more fulfilling from a nutritional factor with a lot less sodium.

Some of my favorite snacks during the last month and a half have been apples and peanut butter, smoothies or baked sweet potatoes with hummus. All require a little work, maybe some chopping, but that extra work is worth it.

Time is your friend! Use it to make a better you. Or at least a healthy you while watching all that trashy reality TV.


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