Are you reaching for chocolate?

In these days of virtual lockdown and increased anxiety and stress, the snack cupboard can be tempting. A new campaign from the Hadassah Medical Organization urges us to think and think again before reaching for those high-fat chips or sugar-packed cookies.

“Everyone who has tried dieting knows it’s very easy to put on a few kilos but tough to lose them,” says Hadassah’s chief nutritionist and dietician Rivki Harari. “That’s especially the case right now when so many people are housebound and not exercising as much.”

For that reason, Harari created a media campaign with colleague Hodaya Fried, who is quarantined at home. The information is airing on an Israeli TV channel and was distributed to the media.

We have heard the advice below many times before, but it’s still a good time to reinforce what we already know is best practice:

• When shopping, minimize purchases of processed foods. Buy fresh foods whenever possible. Not only are they lower in fat, salt, and sugar, but they are also less expensive, a key factor when family income might be decreased.
• Working at home where the kitchen is only steps away can easily result in more noshing. Instead, try to stick to three square meals.
• If you are supplying food to someone in isolation, leave vegetable and fruit platters for them.
• Try to start the day with exercise, even if you’re restricted to staying inside.
• Dine at a table; it breeds healthier eating habits than sitting in front of a screen.
• Serve vegetables at every meal. Olive oil is the healthiest for any dressing.
• Drink plenty of water. Cut out sweetened beverages.
• Be conscious of when you’re hungry and when you’re just bored. Boredom can easily result in an increased desire to eat.

“Four of our dieticians are self-quarantined,“ says Harari. “That means there’s more pressure on the team, but hospital staff are well drilled. Each hospital meal is tailor-made whether for COVID-19 patients or others. We have a dietician stationed in the kitchens to oversee what’s freshly prepared each day.”