How Self-Isolation Helped to Change My Attitudes About Food

Hey There,

                So, most of us have been “self-isolating” in one form or another for the past 8 weeks.  It is so crazy how much everything has changed. None of us could have imagined a life like this if we had tried our hardest.

Back in January/February before things got “crazy” I was listening to “The Daily” and they were talking about how the whole country would have to essentially “shut down” to manage the spread of this virus. I remember telling someone, “Yeah right, Americans are never going to go for that or comply”. I guess I was wrong!!

During this period of isolation, I have worked hard to de-stress and enjoy this downtown. I mean when will we as working adults ever get an extended break from the hustle and bustle of this world ever again. In a lot of ways this unfortunate event has provided some of us with the time and freedom to really take a step back, take inventory of our lives and evaluate what in our lives serves us and what does not.

As part of my de-stressing process, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen.  As I have been in the kitchen more, I’ve realized that my habits and attitudes towards food have changed. There have been 6 main things that I have noticed.

  1. I am more thoughtful about what buy (type of food and quantity).

Prior to this whole virus, I was always stressed and in a rush. I would haphazardly throw together a grocery list (except for when I was planning to make something specific) adding a bunch of junk and no so healthy foods. I would then go to the store stressed and hungry and pick up even more junk foods while walking the aisles. When I got home, I would look at what I bought and realize that my bags were filled with sugary, fatty and high carb foods. I would do this week in and week out.

Now that I am working from home and have more time on my hands, I realize that one, I don’t crave the same sugary, fatty and high carb foods that I once did. It’s safe to say that stress was the main culprit of those cravings. Two, I have been able to set an eating schedule, which also helps to curb some of my cravings which means some of those bad food never make onto my grocery list. And three, I am more conscious about buying foods that are closer to their natural state. Because of the extra time on my hands, I can skip the pre-packaged and quick foods options and opt foods that are more natural. Instead of buying 5 min. rice, I’ll buy rice in bulk. Also, instead of buying frozen fruit, I have been opting for fresh local fruit that I freeze myself.

  • I have been become obsessed with eliminating processed foods from my kitchen.

With the extra time on my hands, I have been able to make more foods from scratch. I now spend the extra time to prep my food for the upcoming week/month. Doing this helps to eliminate the need for quick or convenient food options. I touched on this in the first change that I have noticed, but I think this has been the biggest change so far. Yes, I have been spending WAY more time freezing, baking, prepping, slicing, chopping and simmering but it is well worth it.  Society has been preaching to us for years to prep our foods on a weekly basis but with our schedules, who had time for that!?!?!  Now that we have the time, I am taking advantage of it. Spending the extra few minutes has made a difference in not only my cooking but in how I physically feel. By prepping my food and skipping those pre-packaged options I can control the amount of salt and sugar in my food. In turn, I’m not as bloated, I don’t have that “heavy” feeling after meals and my snacks are less sugary.   

Like I said earlier, I have been freezing my own fruit. I have been making infused oils and confits and I have been baking breads and making pastas from scratch. Honestly, I LOVE IT.  I wish I could cook and eat like this forever!!

  • I have finally grasped the importance of meal planning.

When I was in an office, I was HORRIBLE about planning out my meals. As a result I never had food prepared when I needed it. I was always scrambling to figure out what I was going to eat for lunch and  dinner (which usually meant that I was going to pick up something) and I was always running out of food or I never had the right ingredients on hand for a dish.

Now, I take the time to plan out my meals. On Saturdays, I plan out one or two breakfast, lunch and dinner options and make I make my grocery list based on that. I plan out how many days each dish will last and before I run out of one dish, I start the prep for the next. Yes, it takes a lot of coordination and cooking (you are cooking almost every night) but it also means that you are never caught with nothing to eat. Having prepared meals on hand, really helps me not to snack as much and it makes it harder to justify ordering food.

  • I have become more conscious about how food affects me physically.

We all have those one or two dishes that affect us in a weird way after we eat them. Some people may get jittery while others my get a headache or a slight tingle. A lot of times we are so busy that we do not stop to think about how what we eat physically affects us. We may be so caught up and rushing that we don’t realize that that dull headache we have isn’t due to stress but due to the sugary fruit smoothie that we downed for lunch. Now that things are slower, I’m really starting to take inventory of how foods effects my body.

I am way more conscious about my thirst. Before I would take a couple of “swigs” of water and keep it pushing but now that I am more relaxed, present and aware, I realize that my body is craving way more water than I have been giving it.

I’ve also noticed that eating sugary snacks after a certain time, really throws my body off. I notice that I wake up groggy and tired when I eat sweet foods close to bedtime.

 I also noticed that I am a breakfast person. For years, I have maintained that I don’t need to eat breakfast on a daily basis. I convinced myself that eating early in the morning slowed me down and made me sluggish throughout the day. In reality, I needed to opt for lighter and more healthy breakfast foods and I needed to eat later. Working from home has afforded me the ability to play around with my breakfast time and food options. I have realized that eating breakfast around 10-11am is the optimal time for me. I like to eat lunch around 3 and dinner around 6-7. Not sure is that is healthy or not, but this schedule really helps me to control my craving and stave off hunger.

  • I am more conscious about how much money I spend on food.

I am using this period of self-isolation to really focus on eating at home. There are so many reasons why eating out is not the best option, so I have been trying to experiment with different foods while at home. All of this experimenting has led to insane grocery bills. I really don’t understand how I manage to go to the grocery store each week and spend no less than $100.00 each time. I understand that fresh foods cause more than pre-packaged and that cooking elaborate recipes calls for many different ingredients and spices but, $100.00 each week for one person is way too much.

Since I have been food shopping more consistently, I am more conscious of prices and of how much I buy.  I try to use what I have at home and I double check my pantry and fridge so that I am not buying duplicate items when at the store.

  • I am more conscious about how much waste I create while cooking.

Cooking at home every night generates a TON of food waste. The amount of waste is even more if you are primarily cooking with fresh ingredients. I can fill up several garbage bags a week just by cooking every night. Honestly, it hurts me to my heart to throw out fruit, meat and vegetable scraps. I feel like it’s just so wasteful.

I have been researching ways to compost food scraps and I think that will be the next addition to, The Kitchen on Wellington. I have also decided to go paper towel-less.  I have invested in two small baskets for the kitchen. One will hold clean dish and tea towels while the other will collect the used towels. Yes, this my increase my laundry bill but for me that is a better alternative than going through an entire roll on paper towels each time I make a meal (I am not exaggerating. I would literally use half a roll to a full roll each time I cooked).

If you are cooking every night, I would encourage you to also think about ways to cut down on the amount of waste you generate. A lot of the issues we face on a global scale are because we are wasteful and not kind to our planet. I have chosen to use this time to implement better kitchen practices that can help to change or correct those issues.

These are just a few of the things that have become more aware. You all can spend your period of self-isolation  however you please but I do really encourage you to use this time to think about the things you do in your life, the people you are surrounded by and the foods that you eat. Think about how they all connect and how you can make small changes that can help improve your outlook on your life and the foods that you eat.

See ya!

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