It’s safe to say the phrase ‘social distancing’ has become pretty commonplace now, and if you’re like us, the whole family is slowly (I mean, really slowly) falling into a new rhythm. But getting back to healthier eating is easier said than done.
If you’ve taken one too many trips to the fridge, or you’ve caved in and given the kids free access to the pantry because they wouldn’t stop disrupting your Zoom meeting (desperate times call for desperate measures)… you’re not alone. In fact, 22% of Aussie families have reported consuming more junk food during lockdown.
We know it’s been tricky supporting the family through what’s been a crazy few months, and serving up a nutritious meal everyday might not have been the first thing on your mind. It’s completely normal to feel worried or stressed about what’s been going on (you’re only human).
New data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that two in every five Aussies have reported feelings of anxiety since restrictions were introduced, and nearly 1 in 5 found it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
To get your eating back on track, SodaStream has teamed up with foodie blogger and nutritionist Luba Pavia, aka @cook.vegetarian, to offer some easy-to-follow tips.
Let’s get back setting some boundaries, shall we…
The science behind why you’ve been stress-eating during lockdown
Cravings are super common, and foods that are high in sugar and fat are often at the centre of these cravings. They’re typically caused by physiological triggers in your brain and body including hormone levels, mental and emotional stress, hunger, tiredness, dehydration and vitamin deficiency. In times like this, it’s normal to have opportunistic cravings creep up on us.
“Satisfying cravings can often have a calming effect on us when we are stressed.”
“Simply put, we often crave salty and sweet foods because when we taste their rich flavours, our brain tells us that they are making us feel good”, says Luba. Sugary and salty foods trigger our brains to release a chemical called dopamine which acts like a reward system and makes us feel good. “This leaves us wanting to feel this euphoric feeling over and over again, especially when we are stressed and tired”, says Luba. This is also one of the reasons why food high in sugar and salt can also become addictive.
Another reason why people might crave salty and sweet foods is because they are not getting enough water and calories from their regular meals each day. “If you are significantly hungry or dehydrated, your body might trigger cravings for sweet and salty foods in order to restore your body’s nutrient levels in the fastest possible way”, says Luba.
How to establish an iso-friendly eating routine and avoid junk food cravings
There are many different ways of establishing clean eating routines, and certain methods work better for some more than others.
“It’s all about finding what strategy works best for you.”
“A great way to start is by ensuring you don’t skip out on meals”, says Luba.
“Prolonged hunger can lead to cravings. Personally, I always aim to eat a few healthy snacks throughout the day to keep my energy levels up and cravings down.”
Another common strategy is keeping ‘balance’ at the centre of your eating routine.
“Some say eliminating sweet and salty foods altogether can make you crave them less”, says Luba, “however, I always recommend a balanced diet, because restrictive diets can lead to binge eating”.
Luba also recommends staying hydrated.
We’ve all had those days when we’ve been so busy that we’ve forgotten to drink water, and a headache has crept up as a friendly reminder. One of the great things about spending more time at home is having a little more downtime – this means time to fit drinking water into your day. “For those who struggle to motivate themselves to drink water, or find still water bland, trying sparkling or soda water might do the trick!”, says Luba. “To avoid giving into sweet cravings, I use my SodaStream machine and matching sugar-free flavours for a little pick-me-up now and then. You can use the carbonating machine to create a range of unique and healthy drinks that make staying hydrated feel like less of a chore.”
3 clean substitutes for the naughty snacks you’ve been eating during lockdown
We’re all guilty of chowing down on naughty snacks when we’re feeling a little on-edge, and ‘iso’ has been no exception. Luckily, Luba has offered some easy swaps for you and the kids.
1. Swap Lollies for Fruit
“I personally really enjoy eating berries, like blueberries, strawberries and black-berries – and they’re packed with antioxidants!”, says Luba.
2. Swap Chips for Nuts
Nuts are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre, magnesium and Vitamin E. Luba’s favourites are almonds, walnuts and cashews.
3. Swap Soft Drink for Healthy Sugar Free Drinks
“My favourite alternatives to soft drinks are lemon tea and kombucha. If you enjoy making your own drinks at home, SodaStream is a great option for sugar-free drinks.” Packed with bubbles, SodaStream “even has a range of organic, low-sugar kombucha you can try”, says Luba.
How has your eating been affected by the COVID-19 crisis? What are you doing to get back to healthier habits? Tell us in the comments below.