How wearing a mask is affecting your eating routine (and six tips to help)

I honestly never imagined I would be writing this blog, but here we are in 2020. The City of Edmonton has just passed a temporary by-law stating that everyone in a public building must wear a mask. We have been fortunate enough to do so much of our work through virtual sessions that my need to wear a mask has been limited and quite short in duration. This is not the case for our clients. As many of you return to work, we are hearing your real-life stories about navigating this new normal with your mask on.

Many of our clients have been diligently focusing on building strong eating routines, eating at certain times, stopping for breaks during their day, practicing mindfulness around their hunger and fullness levels, and then comes along this mask, interrupting everything!

Wearing a mask all day means you can no longer eat or drink whenever you want. Protocols are in place to keep us healthy and to support each other through this difficult time. What do you do when those protocols that are protecting us feel like they are derailing all your hard work? Don’t panic. This is just one of the bumps in the road! If you are working with our dietitians, you may have heard them say, “life happens”.  This is HAPPENING folks! So, without further adieu, here are some tips to help with navigating our new life in a mask:

  • Add your morning snack to your breakfast. If you cannot stop for your morning snack or eat it on the fly anymore, just add to your breakfast, making it a bigger, more robust meal. Instead of skipping that snack all together, you will hopefully feel full and satisfied all the way to lunch.
  • Add your afternoon snack to your lunch. Same as the morning, if the afternoon snack is just not possible, tack it on to your lunch, helping you get through the day to dinner.
  • Use your commuting time wisely. If you are driving or walking to and from your place of work, use that time to put in an early and/or late snack. For example, have breakfast early before you leave home, and then have your snack early on the way to work. If driving home, pack a snack for the car ride home so you don’t get to dinner famished.
  • Pull out the vegetable tray while making dinner. Honestly. This tip is so helpful when you don’t have your afternoon snack. You can snack on the veggies as your prep your meal, which just contributes to your total vegetable intake for the whole day!
  • Drink water through a straw. A straw can slip in and around the mask much easier, so taking small sips throughout the day will help you to stay hydrated.
  • Take breathing breaks. If possible, get outside for some fresh air or especially at lunch and take off the mask. Give your face a chance to breathe and take in deep full breaths, fully filling your lungs.

 

I know this is different for all of us. I am definitely feeling it! There are some experts who are helping us with our communication while wearing a mask, telling us that we need to be more thoughtful and more engaged with our communication when half of our face is hidden. I would recommend taking the same approach to your fueling throughout the day – be thoughtful about the timing of your meals and what will work for you, be engaged with your body as you try some new strategies. This is one curve ball we are navigating with you so please reach out if you need support.

 

By Raina Beugelink

– Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist)