This past Friday, Bill Maher did an interview with Dr. David Katz, in which Dr. Katz said that this is a good time for people to get healthy since good nutrition, sleep, and exercise boost your immune system.
I agree that improving our immune system right now is a good idea, and while more healthy habits might help, the focus on “getting healthy” has some challenges.
In terms of good nutrition, being more healthy often involves eating lots of fresh produce and whole foods instead of processed items. That’s fine in normal circumstances, but fresh produce doesn’t last that long. And with grocery shopping becoming more difficult and stressful, people are more inclined to opt for the foods that can stay good for a long time – and that includes processed items.
Frozen veggies are also quite nutritious if fresh isn’t available, but they’re not always easy to get either. This past week, I was looking for frozen spinach and only found a couple of packages left. Who would have thought this would be a hot commodity?
If you’re worried about going to the store, some do delivery or curbside pickup, but as anyone who’s tried knows, this is not a guarantee. Sometimes you have to order days or even a week in advance to get a slot, and it may also cost more. For those who aren’t working right now, paying more is the last thing they want to do.
All this adds up to making it more difficult to eat nutritious foods than it would be at other times.
Craving Comfort Foods
Then there’s the simple fact that right now, the more nutritious foods might not be as appealing. You might be craving your comfort foods instead.
It can be hard to focus on eating lots of vegetables when you’re worried about getting sick or juggling multiple responsibilities at home. Or you might simply be exhausted from stress and worry and want something that tastes good and reminds you of simpler times – without having to spend a lot of time cooking.
I’ve been going for a balance. I’m slowly eating through the cake I made a couple of weeks ago (I keep most of it frozen and take out a few pieces at a time), and for meals, I’m focusing more on nutrition.
But I also know I’m fortunate to have the time to do that, as well as the finances to afford fresh produce. I’m also not worried about having a job or taking care of kids, which makes a big difference.
Finally, there’s the challenge of staying active. Exercise is very helpful for mental health, as well as physical health, but sometimes it’s easier said than done.
Parents of young kids, for example, may find it hard to get out and exercise, or even to stay in and exercise. In a household with multiple people, it could be hard to find room to do indoor activities like yoga. You might be used to going to the gym to do weights and now don’t have access to that.
On the plus side, here in Maine, the weather has been improving, and we have space for people to get out for walks and bike rides. It’s a great option if you can do it, and it’s fun seeing other people out and about.
And for those who can do online classes, that’s another good option. At least, if your cat lets you use the yoga mat.
Do What You Can
If you have the time, energy, and ability to focus on improving your lifestyle right now, that’s great. Maybe you can experiment with some new recipes, try ingredients you don’t usually use, and buy from local farmers.
You might also find an online yoga or Pilates class, or some other option for indoor exercise, or get outside.
But I think it’s important to remember that everyone is in a different situation, and not all of us can focus on those things right now. And I don’t want anyone to feel compelled to try to live up to some ideal of how weshould be spending this time.
So do what you can, as long as you’re doing it for yourself in a way that reduces your stress instead of adds to it. And may you find moments of peace and restoration in your days.