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4 tips to manage food stress

Elena Casiraghi, Ph.D. - Equipe Enervit, Adjunct professor University of Pavia
Being confined home for a long time has its good sides. We have more time to devote to ourselves, more time to do all those things that for too many commitments we had always postponed. We rediscovered work from home, redefined our spaces, listened to music, and read books. We were asked to stay at home for our health, but the desire to go out never left us. On the other hand, some latent anxiety about overwork or managing the family and the home. All these thoughts may have triggered a stressful mood, which can lead us to approach the fridge not only for healthy meals.

Promoting a Wellness lifestyle at home and managing fitness while in lockdown is therefore important.

In this article we will tell you some simple and practical tips to better manage your physical and mental well-being with food (and not only) and keep you balanced, especially in this delicate moment.

Let's move regularly

How to stay dynamic when you are forced to spend all your time at home, sometimes forced into small apartments? Our tip is to keep on moving during smart working hours: stand up for 3 minutes every 30 minutes spent in a sedentary position. This simple strategy, whose benefits on blood pressure have been scientifically tested, keeps our metabolism active.

Highly beneficial is also working out with a naturally loaded bodyweight circuit at the end of the working day, or if you prefer before the start of the working day. The Technogym tutorials by qualified Master Trainers will support you by providing effective workouts developed with studies and experience in the field of kinesiology.

Choose your training loads to best manage your daily energy, pay attention to recovery both between exercises and between days and help you achieve optimal fitness. Compatible with the spaces you live in, try to take no fewer than 5000 steps every day. These are simple strategies that bring important and tangible benefits.

Nutrition: regularity and balance

Many people are wondering if it is worth reducing calories during this period of less daily movement. Surely it could be beneficial if your activity index decreases, on one condition: calories intake in each meal and snack within your day is balanced. Limiting to a simple reduction of number of calories without considering the quality of the food we put on our plate, can primary increase the feeling of hunger, in particular with a spasmodic search for sugar based foods, followed by a loss of muscle tone and strength and, at the same time, an increase in the hormone cortisol, more commonly known as the "stress hormone". The latter event could have a negative impact on our immune system. In short, not what we would like in this delicate period.

Snacks allow us to get to the next meal not too hungry and also help to maintain a certain glycaemic stability with many benefits like mental efficiency, satiety and maintenance of physical fitness. Start each meal by eating a plate of vegetables or vegetable puree (no legumes, potatoes or cereals); then, for lunch, divide your plate into three equal parts by completing a first third with a lean protein source food, a second third of your plate with additional vegetables with good fat as a tablespoon of raw extra virgin olive oil and complete with a last third of whole grains such as brown basmati rice, red rice, spelt, barley, quinoa for example or their mix.
So how do you keep your strength during lockdown, avoid accumulation of fat mass and promote satiety? The answer is soon said. What is also necessary is maintaining a certain balance between meals and snacks. Every day it is therefore essential to eat three main meals: breakfast, possibly within one hour after waking up, lunch and dinner. If more than five hours are spent between these meals, snacks are a valuable support. One in the middle of the morning and one more in the afternoon about two to three hours before dinner.
For dinner, if you are very hungry, have a third of your plate with a source of protein, alternating the food you have chosen for lunch. Continue with two thirds with vegetables, accompanied by a slice of wholemeal bread and some small fruit. If you eliminate the slice of bread you have two choices: either double the portion of fruit with a seasonal fruit salad or choose a cube of dark chocolate. Rich in polyphenols, substances friendly to the intestine and therefore to our immune system which, when balanced in the meal as in this case, can have a positive impact on both physical and mental wellbeing.

Don’t stress, just relax

Mind specialists like psychologists and psychiatrists call it "radio mind". They want to indicate a state of mind where thoughts are so fast and awkward that they are always in the background like a radio with music on. As with daily diet and workout, it is also necessary to restore a balance called by the expert Life Balance. There are many strategies they propose to reach it.

Thinking Positive, meditation, self-talk techniques are all scientifically recognised methods to achieve a balance that translates into physical and mental wellbeing, thus helping in reducing negative stress. Another advice is to disconnect from the virtual world by switching off devices like smartphones, PCs, tablets, etc that emit blue lights at least one hour before going to bed in order to promote optimal sleep and quality of sleep at night. The latter, in fact, together with daily nutrition and physical activity, is a valuable tool that has a positive impact on our well-being. Reducing the hours of sleep at night or their quality can lead to a depression of the immune system.

Take the opportunity

This extraordinary and delicate moment is teaching us many things. Among them, taking the time to love ourselves. Let's start by doing a daily workout weighted to our level of training and paying attention to the food we put on our plate every day. These two instruments are the first allies of your well-being. Lastly, let’s fill our everyday with healthy habits that can become part of our well-being even once this emergency will be over.

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