Sadly there are people using the corona crisis to play on our fear by pushing dietary measures erroneously aimed at strengthening the immune system. Here’s why that’s not a good approach.
Your immune system works in a delicate balance. If it’s too weak you become susceptible to invading microbes but if it’s too strong you can develop autoimmune conditions. In fact, the most dangerous symptom of COVID-19 is when the lungs fill up with fluid as a response to the immune system overreacting against the virus. What you want instead is to protect your overall health and there are many ways to accomplish that goal without restricting what you eat.
My heart goes out to those of you working on the front lines for whom the below may be impossible. For the rest of us consider these powerful ways to support your health:
Lower your expectations
It’s normal to want to exert control during times that feel out-of-control. But this is no time to put more pressure on yourself in the form of new eating plans, diets, exercise programs, chores, or any other voluntary extraordinary effort that feels like work. Life is hard enough as it is.
The drive to do something – anything – is strong and reflexive. Consider however that this moment is literally calling for us to stop and be still. We need to cut through the normal busyness, emotional repression, and automatic reflexes in order to get back in touch with ourselves. Sometimes the hardest but most helpful thing to do is nothing. Our world is changing fast. In order to adjust we first need to be present and still.
Rest, relax, and play
Allowing your body to physically relax and replenish is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your health, and immune system, during a time of stress. This means getting as much sleep as possible as well as accessing your creativity in pleasurable ways such as art, music, hobbies, and games. As part of relaxing, think about using and moving your body in pleasurable ways that aren’t necessarily exercise: walk if you can do so safely, stretch, wiggle, dance, give yourself (or each other) a foot massage, or get busy in the bedroom…
Eat in a way that supports your body and is pleasurable
Yes, we want to ensure adequate nutrition in the form of enjoyable meals, from whatever source is available – fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. However, remember that more isn’t better and every bite doesn’t have to be “nutritious.” You don’t need to introduce new or unknown supplements, superfoods, or avoid all sugar. And don’t forget that oxygen, fresh water, and sunshine are also essential nutrients, even if that’s your face in a window.
If you are experiencing heightened emotional eating or cravings know that this is normal and natural during a time of stress. I’ve found myself seeking comfort in chocolate and wine more than usual as well. Sugar or chips or whatever you are attracted to may be providing emotional comfort, and your body needs that too
Try to be kind to yourself, even when you experience unwanted eating. Humans are resilient and adaptable. You are too.
However you’re managing you’re doing great.
If you find your emotional eating distressing or it feels out-of-control, I can help. I’m still providing no charge/no obligation one hour consultations which can be scheduled here. If you need a different time use this form.