1. Set technology boundaries around meal time.
I know eating dinner in front of the TV was fun the first few nights, however overtime it sets us up for poor eating habits and may impair digestion. Being distracted while we eat is not ideal, it pulls our attention from our food and can stir up unnecessary emotions, especially when watching dramatic television shows. When our attention is not on chewing or tasting the food in front of us, we can quickly forget what we have eaten and may have difficulty hearing our body’s hunger/fullness signals. This can lead to poor satisfaction with meals, snacking soon after eating, and most importantly it can lead to overeating. When we are emotional during meals our body produces stress hormones, like cortisol, this decreases our stomach acid production and slows the entire digestive process. This can leave you feeling bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable.
Tip: sit at the table, take a collective deep breath before the meal begins. Avoid discussing stressful situations or have arguments. Additionally, allow for moments of silence to check in with your body. With children, discuss the hunger/fullness scale and prompt them to listen to their bodies and stop eating when they are truly full.
Challenge: Chew each bite 20-30 times, this helps you to taste the food, improve digestion, and feel more satisfied.
2. Incorporate fermented foods.
Our guts are the source of our health and wellness. The human microbiome is comprised of roughly 5 pounds of bacteria and yeasts that truly call the shots. These bacteria are responsible for the production of 70% of our immune cells and 90% of our feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. By feeding this community fermented foods you will be adding more beneficial bacteria strains to help strengthen the immune system and improve the way we handle and manage stress.
Options: Sauerkraut – tangy and delicious, try 1 TBS per day. Kimchi – spicy and potent, kimchi has the most strains of bacteria, try 1 TBS per day. Kombucha – tangy and sweet, be cautious of sugar content and water down or limit if it is high, ½-1 cup per day. Coconut Milk Yogurt – creamy and heavenly, try Coco June from Baldors, you will not be disappointed!
3. Time restricted eating, or not.
We have all heard the myth that eating anything before bed will go straight to our hips well, I am here to set you straight. There is currently no research that suggests a strong connection between weight gain and eating before bed. However, our food choices make a difference no matter what time it is. If you are snacking on processed or sugary foods, the chances of experiencing weight gain will be much higher, day or night. Eating before bed will most likely cause bloating and poor sleep before it adds extra pounds. When we consume food within two hours of falling asleep we begin to impair the body’s natural repair and detoxification rhythm. When we are sleeping the body focuses on encoding memories, repairing the liver, removing toxins, and much more. However, if there is food in the stomach, resources are diverted to digest. Leaving a 12-hour window between dinner and breakfast is the best way to support the body and its natural/necessary processes.
Tip: If you continue to wake up in the night hungry, it is ok to take a small spoonful of honey before bed, this provides enough glucose to keep blood sugar stable until the morning.
4. Load up on healthy fat.
Healthy fats like avocado, wild caught salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts nuts are my go to when creating healthy meals! These foods all have a relatively high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which when consumed have been linked to reduced feelings of depression, lower LDL cholesterol, and even reduced pain during menstruation. What is most significant about omega-3s in the context of quarantine is their connection with reducing
feelings of anxiety. EPA and DHA, two of the primary fat molecules work in the brain to reduce cellular inflammation and support nerve cell structures. Additionally, these fats support the release of serotonin from the neurons, helping maintain balance in the brain and positive feelings.
Tip: Sprinkle seeds on everything, I love adding chia, flax, and hemp seeds on top of avocado toast, mixed in yogurt, or even on a salad!
Thrive East – Charlotte LaGuardia, MS, CNS