The beginning of the quarantine came to me as a shock, like many other people I presume, and as an amateur in isolation I made several mistakes. Here are the 5 lessons that I wish I had known.
The first thing I did, picturing me trapped at home, was to pay a visit to the supermarket and buy an enormous amount of food. I had no vision by then of what I actually needed for two meals daily (my partner & I) so I went crazy on quantities.
The first weekend I found myself throwing away a good 30% of the produce I had bought since I had forgotten the “menus” I had imagined while shopping and ended up eating all that was easier to cook first.
After that week I decided to write down what I felt like eating and then breaking it down to ingredients in order to create a down to earth shopping list. What happened when I went shopping? Well since I had all the time in the world for myself (or so I thought) I went crazy on cravings this time.. a new flavor of yogurt, 3 different flavors of hummus, two kinds of cheeses.
These ingredients were sort of part of my menus but wanting to make them super fancy I ended up throwing away stuff, again. Remember when cooking, less is more.
Finally I had it all figured out (or so I thought) and started cooking what It seems correct for two people counting lunch and dinner and an occasional snack here and there.
I had gotten so used to eating out, daily walking from the office to some small eatery that I never realized how easy it was to get a second plate at home. I started eating two portions of my menu by myself then eating snacks then eating some more and started to gain weight. Lots of it.
I considered that I was satisfied until my stomach felt completely full and I fell sleepy and even slightly uncomfortable.
Even with the right portioning and so on I was still gaining weight. The cause? Snacking.
I had bought healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruits, baby carrots, bananas, apples and so on.. the problem was that every time I took a restroom break I would grab a handful of grapes, every time I felt bored I would go for a handful of nuts, then a Netflix chapter would be over and it was time for some apple and peanut butter.
My snacking was out of control since it was unlimited as opposed as my office situation in which once my snacks are over, there’s no other choice but to handle my anxiety or stress hunger.
It took me 8 weeks to get to this point in which I only buy what is actually needed, manage my menus and portion my snacks to two a day (one pre lunch and one pre dinner) but sometimes is not easy.
I realized that most of my secret eating and crazy snacking was the result of my body trying to fill in the emotional spaces left, due to social distancing. I also realized that I had configured food as a price to my doing pending stuff for example “oh I just finished making my bed, I deserve an ice cream”. Slowly learning to detach food from emotional programming will make your life way easier while being isolated.
Every time I felt alone I would call my friends, write my mom a message but not get a chocolate. Every time I felt anxious I would meditate (there are some amazing apps such as Insight Timer) instead of grabbing an apple and the jar of peanut butter.
Being in isolation is a challenging journey that has kept us all learning more and more about ourselves, our habits, appreciation and gratefulness.