Eating Is Weird Now

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As the first shelter-in-place orders were spreading across the country, a popular tweet was going around: “Wear jeans for an hour or two in your house every day. You don’t want to get three or four weeks from now and go to put them on and have it be an absolute crisis.”

It’s been about four weeks since that tweet was sent. Anyone have that crisis yet?

This is an anxious time. For those of us able to stay home, stress-baking bread has become a national pastime, and this new, unwelcomed way of life inside has given us unfettered, 24-hour access to the fridge and kitchen pantry. (Not to mention the liquor cabinet.) But whether you’ve been eating more, eating less or just forgetting to eat at all, there are tactics to put to work now to build habits that will pay dividends when real life returns.

“This is the time, it doesn’t matter your age, to do a self-exam,” said Dr. Zhaoping Li, director of the Center of Human Nutrition, and chief of the division of clinical nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Use this window of opportunity to figure out what is good for our bodies, what can we do for our bodies, and then hopefully you have a plan when everything restarts again.”

She added: “Covid is really bringing us a lot of stress, but also another sense of how vulnerable we are. The best, most reliable way to stay healthy facing this challenge is good health.”

The way our eating habits have changed isn’t just a matter for our appearances. The health risks involved in consistent over- and underconsumption can stack up, especially when compounded with a more sedentary lifestyle. But learning to be mindful of our eating habits now can help us ease back into a more normal life, whenever that is.

Make an appointment with your food
Remember taking a lunch break?

For many of us now working from home, our lives have lost significant amounts of structure. Whereas normally we might have meals generally around the same time every day, sticking to that schedule is difficult when the lines between personal time and work time have become so fundamentally blurred. (And we should consider ourselves fortunate, as many are still working outside the home, and food banks nationwide are overrun and running short on supplies.)

But reintroducing that structure, along with incorporating our normal exercise routines, now can help get our habits back on track and ease us back into more normal eating habits, said Dr. David Seres, associate professor of medicine in the Institute of Human Nutrition at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

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