The Core Diet Blog

As a registered dietitian, I have always tried to impress upon the clients who I work with, that nutrition is a ‘controllable’. And therefore, as a ‘controllable’, it should be controlled. I know...I know...I can hear you scratching your head, asking “What are you talking about, Beth?”

In training and racing there are very few variables over which we can exercise any real level of control – the weather...Nope! The competition...Nope! Flat tires from broken glass in road...Nope! Favorite yoga class is full…Nope!  But nutrition? Yes! We can control that for sure. It often takes many of us a long time to realize that we have this control, but once we do come to the realization, and assert this control, executing it to the best of our ability, we feel and perform better on race day or in our weekly spin class.

The world took a giant left-hand turn, and we’re stuck right smack in the middle of this pandemic-thing, which has really thrown quite a wrench into our race and workout plans! Even still, this doesn’t diminish the importance of managing our nutrition and keeping the fact that it is ours to control, at the forefront of our minds. We can’t control when our kids go back to school, when we can get back to work, or when we will be allowed back into the gym. But, we CAN control our day-to-day nutrition. And, even more so than in training and racing, if we execute on that, to the best of our abilities, we will feel better, boost our mood and immunity, and CERTAINLY perform better in our day-to-day lives. The trickle-down effect is amazing. While taking this control of your nutrition will not send the kids back to school any sooner, it will help you to keep from running across the kitchen in a screaming fit threatening to bury the iPad in the backyard, during their fractions lesson on ZOOM...

So, while these times may make it feel so much the easier to simply throw your hands up in the air and eat donuts for dinner, allow me to offer an alternative – a focus on nailing your nutrition. 

Below are several tips to help you to nail that nutrition, boost immunity, improve mood, and lower stress:

  1. Make a plan and stick to it! For the most part...Okay, don’t all roll your eyes at once! I know this is something that we harp on ALL OF THE TIME. But only because it is so, so important. In case you haven’t noticed, the grocery store is a stressful place right now. What, with the arrows on the floor...So, going in with a general meal plan for the week, and the items that you will need to accomplish that plan, is a huge help. I even have a few ‘Plan B’ options, just in-case Plan A’s option leaves me staring at empty shelves. And though it may sound like a lot of work, and it isn’t not, it does save A LOT of stress later on. A little forethought before you head into the store is likely to leave you with exactly what you need in order to make a nutritious and wholesome meal each night.

  1. What should those meals consist of? We all know chips and salsa, with a side of ice cream SEEMS like a great idea for dinner. But you also don’t have to be a nutrition professional to know that, while it may make you feel better temporarily, eating like that ultimately just makes you feel worse. Much worse. So, instead focus on the foods that we KNOW make you feel better (not to mention those that keep your immunity high and your weight in check)! Fruits and vegetables are right at the top of that list. Lean proteins, like poultry, lean beef, and low-fat dairy are also very strong performers on the list. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish (salmon), walnuts, and avocado should be included, as well.

  1. Because fruits and vegetables are such an important part of this equation, they are going to get their very own bullet point! Rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber they truly pack the biggest nutrient punch around. Make it your goal to have 5-6 servings each day – AT LEAST! Use them as snacks (an apple with peanut butter, cut up veggies with hummus, cottage cheese with fruit on top, etc...) and incorporate them into each meal (eggs with veggies, for breakfast, a big salad with lean protein for lunch, lean protein for dinner with two servings of veggies on the side).  

  1. A point about alcohol.  Trust me, I understand the urge to have a drink to “unwind” after a long day of watching CNN.  But anything above appropriate, “moderate” use of alcohol can actually contribute to anxiety and overall stress levels.  Not to mention make you feel awful the next morning, making it hard to get your workout in or fully function at work or for your children.  Moderate alcohol use is defined by the CDC as UP TO 1 drink for women and UP TO 2 drinks for men per day.  A “drink” is defined as 12 oz of beer (5% alcohol), 8 oz of malt liquor (7% alcohol), 5 oz of wine (12% alcohol) or 1.5 oz of hard liquor (40% alcohol) such as gin, vodka, rum or whiskey.

  1. And finally, do still plan for ONE ‘comfort’ meal each week. It can be your favorite (in our house, this is definitely pizza night!) that serves as a treat and something to look forward to. This also serves as a way to remain disciplined during the rest of the week!

Most mental health professionals suggest that in stressful times, such as these, to control the controllables. Make nutrition one of those controllables! It is waiting and willing to allow you to. You’ll be in a better mood, boost your immunity, and feel better for it!  

~Beth Peterson - Core Diet Registered Dietitian

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