Let’s all be honest with ourselves—the quarantine is making us falter in our healthy eating. From the late-night snacks and stress-eating sessions (btw, do you know what the number one worst binge food is?), to our new-found hobbies of baking bread and desserts, it’s no wonder we may be experiencing the ‘quarantine 15’ or other signs of a poor diet. The most important thing is to start listening to our bodies and change the eating habits that are making us feel less than optimal.
Here are some of the ways your body may be telling you it’s had enough of your quarantine indulgence. (Don’t worry, stocking your pantry with healthy foods that will get your through the quarantine isn’t so hard.) If you want to stay on track with healthy eating, sign up for our newsletter and get useful food news and tips sent directly to your inbox.
1. You are gassy all the time
Constant bloat is a major indicator of a bad diet. If you notice that you’re constantly bloated and gassy after drinking milk or eating cheese, you might be lactose intolerant. Many people have a mild intolerance to dairy and don’t even realize it, so make sure you’re reading the signs your body is sending you.
2. You are constipated
Having some trouble on the toilet? Constipation and other irregular bowel movements are a big indicator of something being wrong in your diet. If you’re having constipation issues, you probably don’t have enough fiber in your diet. Fiber regulates your digestive system and makes everything run smoothly, so it’s important to keep have a balanced diet with tons of fiber. Foods like beans, oats, and whole grains are great sources for fiber.
3. You are always hungry
You keep telling yourself that you’re ready to go on a diet, but by the end of the day you crack and eat a whole bag of chips and a pint of ice cream. Although your willpower does have something to do with this, your diet may also be the root of the problem. “Binging is your body’s way of responding to not getting the nutrients that you need—it’s a biochemical response and signal from your brain that you’re not giving it what it needs.
4. You are cutting out food groups
A healthy diet should never cut out whole food groups, unless for medical reasons (like lactose intolerance or celiac disease). Each food group is essential for providing all of the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and fit. That doesn’t necessarily mean if you are vegetarian or vegan that you have to start eating meat products, but make sure you get your essential nutrients from elsewhere that fits into your diet (beans are a great source of protein for veggie lovers!).
5. You are always in a bad mood
If you’re always cranky, your diet might be ruining your mood. When you’re cutting back on calories and carbs, you’re going to be irritated from cravings. But, according to Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, your blood sugar is also low, which contributes to your mood swings. She recommends adding more carbs to your meals, which will keep you satisfied for longer and also helps with the production of serotonin (your “happy” chemical) in your brain.
6. You are fatigued
If you’re constantly tired, your diet may be causing your sluggishness. Harvard University noted that a bad diet can lead to a feeling of tiredness all of the time due to lack of vital nutrients to get you through the day. Make sure your diet incorporates all of your essential nutrients, like healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbs, to keep fatigue at bay.
7. You are constantly cold
If you need a sweater in the summer, chances are that you’re diet is off-balance. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows that a low-carb diet can have a negative effect on your thyroid, which regulates your body temperature—a slow thyroid will make you constantly feel chilly Instead of ditching all carbs, make sure you’re eating complex ones that come from whole grain breads, pasta, and other baked goods.
8. You are breaking out
Acne and wrinkles are two major indicators of an unbalanced diet. A review published in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology found that a diet lacking in vitamin A can impact your skin. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in regulating retinoid production, and a deficiency in this crucial nutrient could also lead to dry hair and brittle nails. Consume foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squashes to make sure you’re getting your daily intake of vitamin A.
9. You are depressed
If you’ve been feeling down, what you consume on a daily basis may be the reason. The Indian Journal of Psychiatry found that a deficiency in vitamins, minerals, and/or Omega-3 fatty acids can actually lead to depression and other mental illnesses. They also noted that taking nutritional supplements containing folate and vitamin B12 helped patients boost their mood and combat their mental illnesses.
10. You can’t remember anything
Even your memory is affected by the things you eat. According to a study by Annals of Neurology, women who consume more saturated fats scored lower on memory and thinking tests in comparison to those who avoided these fats. Keep your memory sharp as a knife by ditching the fast food burgers and fries and going for something low in saturated fat, like a salad or whole wheat avocado toast.
11. You are always sick
What you eat influences your immune system. If you’re on a low-protein diet, you may be compromising your health. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery, protein helps strengthen your immune system; when you have a lack of the essential nutrient in your diet, your immune system weakens and makes you more prone to illness. To keep your body healthy and away from viruses and bacteria, make sure you’re eating protein-packed foods like lean meats, beans, and dark leafy greens.
12. You have no energy
If it takes too much effort just to get ready for the day, your diet is probably lacking in iron. One of iron’s many duties is to help boost energy levels by transporting oxygen throughout the body. But when you’re not ingesting enough iron, your body isn’t making enough of those essential red blood cells that transport oxygen and keep you energized for the day. One of the biggest symptoms of anemia (when your blood is low in iron) is low energy levels and sluggishness, according to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education. If you have anemia, take iron supplements and incorporate some of The Best Iron Rich Foods into your diet to pump up oxygen flow and energy into your body.
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