let me share with you what i have learned over the past week or so. we can call it, if you'd like, the do's and don'ts of feeling puny.
- don't, under any circumstances, eat out of any carton. you're tired. you haven't wanted to eat anything, and now goldfish (or frozen yogurt or sherbet or anything else) sound lovely and appetizing. even if it's a fairly decent snack that you normally have control over yourself with, you will not be able to control yourself here. count out the dang 55 goldfish, or the 1/2 cup of ice cream, and then eat it. if you want more, you can always come back. but at least you'll know what you're eating.
- do give yourself some latitude. if chinese food sounds good, go for it. but do your research! beef and broccoli? an excellent choice. too much sodium? sure. but if you end up eating mostly the broccoli, you have not done badly and you believe that you got a treat by going out to dinner.
- don't forget your colors. when you're feeling crappy and don't want to think too much about healthy eating, just try to eat lots of colors. banana? yellow. and good for you. spinach salad? lots of green leafy goodness. sweet potato? outstanding orange superfood of awesome. sometimes, when the world is facing you with "fire bad, tree pretty" mentality, all you can do is find some colors.
- don't go grocery shopping when you're exhausted. normal vigilance will give way to permissive spending, and suddenly oreos and ice cream are part of your food landscape for the first time in ages. two lovely ladies have already posted about planning ahead and making a grocery list that saves time and money. listen to them. they are right.
- do remember the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. when i'm feeling yucky, i find myself more often eating according to the clock or because i want something. when your body's already out of whack, you have to take special care to listen to its cues carefully. what may seem like hunger might be thirst, or what might seem like a craving could be boredom. take the time to listen, and then try to make the best choice possible.
- don't forget the exercise. though you may be tired, if you're not really sick, exercise can help. i'm not a health professional, but i know that, for me, when my symptoms don't indicate an infection or virus but more like the under-the-weather blues, i feel much better, on multiple levels, when i include exercise into my day. even hard cardio can sometimes be doable if you are mentally determined and focused on the task at hand. that said, listen to your body. you may be more able to exercise vigorously earlier in the day, or nighttime might be your peak time. whenever you do exercise, push yourself but don't push yourself to total exhaustion. get your heart rate up a little, and see if your symptoms don't diminish a bit. working your body can sometimes help your body work.
- do cut yourself some slack. if you're on a restricted diet, consider easing up on your caloric restriction and focus on maintaining until you begin to feel better. it will give you some room to include some comfort food (one of my favorites is pita pizza) without feeling totally guilty or derailing your weight loss goals and progress.
every good choice you make in extraordinary circumstances, then, is even more of a triumph!