For over a year now, we have lived under the uncertain cloud and threat of COVID-19 that has been said to be particularly targeting older adults and especially those with underlying conditions and now our children. The facts are, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
What are some of these conditions?
Cancer, Chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, cancer, multiple sclerosis, crohn’s, sickle cell disease, diabetes, obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher), serious heart conditions; such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathies.
Many of these conditions can be further affected by our diet and the amount of time we spend taking care of ourselves-from the inside out. I know from personal experience that its not easy but I assure you- you‘re worth the investment.
If you are forced to stay home more than you used to, it’s easy to throw your more structured diet plan out the window. You know what you are supposed to eat, but often it’s hard to stick to a plan. But how do you avoid gaining weight?
Consider the DASH diet, (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) created in the 1990s as a result of research by the National Institute of Health for a diet to reduce hypertension.
DASH promotes the consumption of vegetables and fruits, lean meat and dairy products, and the inclusion of micronutrients in the menu. It also advocates the reduction of sodium in the diet to about 1500 mg/day. DASH emphasizes on consumption of minimally processed and fresh food.
Another good choice is the Mediterranean Diet (my personal favorite), said to reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. High priority foods to eat on this diet include vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, seafood, and olive oil. Little red meat is advised and sugary foods, processed meats, and highly processed foods are excluded.
Although it is tempting to stockpile processed and pre-prepared foods, try to keep fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat on the grocery list.
Some of my favorite foods can be home delivered to me. A few of my meal delivery services are available from such groups as Home Chef, Hello Fresh, and Every Plate. You can custom choose meal plans and have the food delivered.
Grocery delivery services rely on in-store shoppers who put together your order for pickup generally in the parking lot of the supermarket. Some deliver to your door. Amazon Fresh and Instacart are my faves.
I've heard it over and over-no gym so the workout schedule falls to the waist side. The existence of Covid-19 doesn’t have to include 19 extra pounds on your waist. Make it a goal to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Walk, run, cycle – Get outdoors while you can!
You can invest in an activity tracker, a wearable that keeps track of how far you go and calories burned. Some measure heart rate and the quality of your sleep. Some models have GPS, play music, and are a phone all rolled into one.
Get back to your gym if you feel comfortable. If your gym is closed or you would feel less stressed working out from home, go online for classes or programs to get your heart rate up and build muscle mass. Many are free, some have subscriptions.
During these often stressful times, it is important and sometimes hard to keep your spirits up. Of course, it is easy to say, “think positively,” but it’s not always easy to actually think positive. Having a good support system and engaging with trustworthy people are key elements to successfully talking about your own mental health.
One resource is MentalHealth.gov which provides one-stop access to U.S. government mental health and mental health problems information. Content for this website is provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MedlinePlus and National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and more.
Here are mental wellness tips from their website:
Find someone—such as a parent, family member, teacher, faith leader, health care provider or other trusted individual, who:
• Gives good advice when you want and ask for it; assists you in taking action that will help
• Likes, respects, and trusts you and who you like, respect, and trust, too
• Allows you the space to change, grow, make decisions, and even make mistakes
• Listens to you and shares with you, both the good and bad times
• Respects your need for confidentiality so you can tell him or her anything
• Lets you freely express your feelings and emotions without judging, teasing, or criticizing
• Works with you to figure out what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up
• Has your best interest in mind
Find a group of people with mental health problems similar to yours. Peer support relationships can positively affect individual recovery because:
• People who have common life experiences have a unique ability to help each other based on a shared history and a deep understanding that may go beyond what exists in other relationships
• People offer their experiences, strengths, and hopes to peers, which allows for natural evolution of personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery
• Peers can be very supportive since they have “been there” and serve as living examples that individuals can and do recover from mental health problems
• Peers also serve as advocates and support others who may experience discrimination and prejudice
Overall, Stay positive! Try to think beyond yourself. If you need help with any of the above-reach out to me.
These are complicated, unsettling times but you can use these days to work on your own health as well as to support your friends, neighbors, and family.