Comfort food might be hurting your diet amidst the quarantine
After the pandemic hit the U.S., many Americans switched to comfort food as a part of their quarantine diet. The sales of ultra-processed meals, snacks and sweets increased in the spring and continue to surge since then. “We’re all under stress and looking for ways to cope. For many of us, that means eating comfort foods,” says Dr Rachel Franklin, vice chair and medical director in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of Oklahoma of Medicine.
Your body may suffer some unhealthy side effects if you have been eating a steady diet of comfort foods.
What is Comfort Food?
Comfort food is anything that fails to uplift your mood. Any food that may give you a sense of consolation or well-being is your comfort mood. It may remind you of a memory, of a special person or temporarily make you feel good.
Foods and drinks that people think of as comforting:
- Carbohydrate heavy, like pizza or mashed potatoes.
- Sweet, like candies, cake, milkshakes, soda or chocolate chip cookies.
- Fatty and rich, like macaroni and cheese or creamy desserts.
- Salty, like potato chips or pretzels.
- Fried, like french fries or chicken nuggets.
Comfort foods often fit into multiple categories.
How might comfort food be hurting your health?
Well, the fastest way to know that will be stepping on a scale. Nutrisystem commissioned a poll of 2,000 Americans in June, and it was found that 76% of respondents had gained as much as 16 pounds since mid-march. For people who struggle with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, the weight gain might result in a potentially severe change in health status.
There are other signs that the switch to comfort food amidst quarantine might be hurting your health:
- Sleep Disturbance: If you are not able to sleep well, the cause may be heartburn or weight gain that’s enlarged your neck and triggered sleep apnea.
- Heartburn: Eating late at night in a comfort food diet can increase stomach acid, and when you lie down at night, the stomach acid can reflux, resulting in heartburn.
- Constipation: Starchy, sugary, processed foods can lead to changes in bowel habits, so can a comfort food diet that’s low in fibre.
- Fatigue: If you do not give your body the proper nutrients, you might feel sluggish. Experiencing sugar highs that lead to lows in between meals also results in fatigue.
Change the menu, make the change
Have you been eating a quarantine diet full of comfort food? Then, it’s high time you switch to a healthier eating pattern rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet that fits the bill. Moreover, switch to fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and vegetables.
After you have planned your diet in a way that it incorporates all the essential nutrients, now comes the hard part of implementing the change. Follow these tips to ease your quarantine diet of comfort food:
- Start with a goal: “Make it a goal to incorporate nutritious food at most of your meals—may be a piece of fruit at breakfast or with your snack, perhaps a vegetable at lunch or dinner, or maybe swap out refined grains for whole grains at most meals,” Romano suggests.
- Plan your meals: Jot down a list of food items and plan your meals accordingly. “The more we can be prepared, the more likely we can make healthful decisions during the week”, Romano suggests.
- Stay Hydrated: Water plays a vital role in proper digestion, especially if there is fibre in your diet. “Keep a large glass or bottle of water by you all the time”, Romano advises. “Take sips throughout the day and refill it at least three times during the day.”
Therefore, focus on meals that satiate you; it is entirely reasonable to have comfort foods occasionally. When you make your favorite food a “comfort food“, you may end up overdoing it in the long term. Understand how the sudden switch to a diet full of comfort food might be hurting your diet amidst quarantine, and plan a change.