The world is not what it was before. With the breakneck spread of COVID 19 the people these days are expressing more angst and fear, and are searching the way to cope up with this pandemic and ‘new normal’. With whole family and kids together at home all day, work from home, rattled school schedules and loss of daily cycle has increased anxiety in us and has disrupted our healthy eating. Continuous leading a life full of stress, fear, and anxiety, is inviting more diseases.
People are seen preparing new recipes and food items to cope up with these stress hormones and overcome the prevailing anxiety, and this has thrown plans for healthy eating out of the window. Meal planning for the entire family with their likes and dislikes and with limited groceries in food stores has become a challenge. There’s also the uncertainty of bare shelves, with normal staples of a nutritious diet unavailable, at least temporarily. It’s an impulsive instinct to buy whatever is available in the store even if that is not required or is not part of our diet.
It is very difficult to get by with being quarantined and not to devour your favorite savory, crunchy snack because of boredom or feeling on edge. Few chips or cookies or other packed snacks are fine, but then, many find it arduous to hold themselves from eating the entire packet once opened. Processed foods and baked goods contain simple carbohydrates that create a temperamental effect on our blood sugar, which can spur anxiety and can worsen mood. It is pleasantly surprising to know that there are certain nutrients in some food that reduce anxiety or stimulate the release of happy hormones such as serotonin and dopamine (a chemical that regulates mood and stimulates the pleasure and reward system of the brain) when consumed. And we all want to feel as good as we can during these times of uncertainty.
People are feeling a lot of stress right now, and the unfortunate reality is that stress worsens feelings and brings low mood or angst, which in turn suppresses our immune systems. Therefore, we should target on consuming immune-boosting food in our diet which carries a dual effect that may sense less anxious and will boost our immunity. We all have to eat as it is our body need to function it, so attending to our nutrition is something we all can control, and then reap the benefits of an improved mood.
Reduce anxiety and boost immunity by choosing:
- Citrus fruits and red bell peppers, both are rich in vitamin C which helps to support the immune system.
- Ginger, Garlic, and turmeric are natural superfoods that will help kill the bad bacteria that thrive within us.
- Foods rich in zinc and magnesium such as meat, cashews, dairy, egg, legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains. It metabolizes nutrients, maintains the immune system, and grows and repairs body tissues and it is also seen that zinc as an ingredient is the cold remedy, as zinc has some virus-fighting effects.
- Eat probiotic-rich (which are beneficial bacteria) foods such as pickles (gherkins), yogurt, buttermilk, and cheese. It helps to improve the digestive system, reduce depression, and promote heart health.
- Add some antioxidants (from plant origin, as they are abundantly found in most fruits and vegetables,) to your anti-anxiety diet, which can support your immune system. And trying consuming coconut water as it’s loaded with several important nutrients including minerals. And adding lemon to it will shoot Vit C by 10 times.
- Healthy drinks: try including fresh fruit juices, replace your milk tea by green it as it helps to boost metabolism, grab hot chocolate as it contains antioxidant and flavonoid, jeera paani as it helps in regulating blood sugar levels and lower LDL cholesterol and water as it keeps to keep us hydrated.
Focus on Holistic wellness
- Avoid unnecessary stress as it weakens our immune system.
- Do Pranayam: being active by practicing yoga or brisk walking will always help in strengthening our respiratory system.
- Take Proper Rest: “Sleep is the best meditation” by Dalai Lama as it helps to recharge our body as well as the immune system.
- Spread gratitude & Love: Just like sanitizers and masks work as shields on the outside, our healthy thoughts & immunity are our inner shields.
- Listen to Music: listening to our favorite music stimulates the release of happy hormones which provide a positive effect on mood and help to stay healthy
So, the bottom line is staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for all of us, and the increased anxiety (and boredom) has led to abandoning our healthy eating intentions and snack on whatever is around us. But with a little thought and planning, we can continue to make good food choices and maybe even boost our mood and immunity.