Feed a Cold, Save a Kraemer

How I stayed on plan the week I was self-quarantined

By Adam Kraemer

You probably couldn’t tell, but I was home sick all last week. (Note: This is not the same as being homesick all last week; far from missing my home, I was essentially stuck in it.)

I had what is known in some parts of the country as a “bad cold.”

Actually, it might have been the worst cold I’ve ever dealt with. I’m still, in fact, dealing with it, as my right ear has now been effectively stuffed up for seven days straight. Honestly, this cold was so bad, I considered giving it a name, like they do hurricanes. I’m told that could mean it’s a sinus infection and not a cold (or theoretically both), but the upshot is that I practically did not leave my apartment, other than the occasional Rite Aid run and once to the supermarket (see below), for a full week — Friday to Friday. It’s a good thing I really like my apartment.

It’s also a good thing that my company encourages working from home so as not to infect one’s fellow co-workers. Not that we don’t get sick days. We get 30, in fact (which I found somewhat alarming when I first received the job offer; I mean, who needs 30 sick days? And why?). However, I’m no slacker, and if I can rouse myself enough to do the work without leaving my living room, I will. Also, I’m still new at the job and figured I could use some brownie points. “Adam’s sick and he’s still putting in a full day. What a trooper,” they’re probably saying (in my head, at least, they’re saying it).

It’s an old adage — feed a cold, starve a fever — which may or may not be true. Whenever my mom quotes an old wives’ tale, she generally points out that she, herself, is an old wife. So there’s probably some truth in some of these sayings. I don’t know about starving a fever, but I do know that keeping up one’s strength and eating regular, balanced meals is not a bad way to bolster one’s immune system. I also recommend a decongestant and an expectorant, but I doubt there’s a recognized SmartPoints® value for Mucinex.

So what did I buy, what did I make, and what did I eat? (And why did I essentially ask the same question three different ways?) Well, knowing that I was likely to be stuck inside with the ability to snack whenever I wanted (as opposed to being at the office, where the ability to snack is mitigated by the inability to simply walk the 15 feet to my refrigerator), I stocked two types of food: a) healthy snacks and 2) stuff I’d actually have to prepare in order to eat it.

Under the “healthy” food label — applesauce, lean thin-cut turkey, fat-free cheese slices, rice cakes, 100-calorie popcorn bags, raw vegetables, etc. Under the “stuff I have to prepare” label – soups (chicken soup, natch), my Weight Watchers–friendly mac ‘n’ cheese, liquid egg whites (for omelettes), ground turkey (actually haven’t used this yet; it made sense at the time), frozen vegetables, etc.

Because the thing is, simply because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m not still the same impatient cook. There’s a reason I buy Weight Watchers frozen dinners (well, two reasons, but “I like how they taste” isn’t the point here). So this past week, if I was sitting at my computer and started feeling peckish, I wasn’t likely to stroll into my kitchen and take the time to prepare a full meal. I’d grab an applesauce. Or a couple slices of turkey. Or a shot of liquid egg whites.

I’m kidding about that last one.

The point is, it’s really easy to be tempted with all the food you own sitting so close. And the last thing you want is to be frustrated at not being able to eat what you want — that’s fairly antithetical to the whole Weight Watchers ethos. So I made sure that the stuff that was easy to simply grab was all stuff low in SmartPoints. Not that the full meals weren’t also comparatively low in SmartPoints, but there’s a difference between having a 2- or 3-point snack every few hours and eating three cans of soup in one afternoon. I made sure the latter wasn’t going to be an option.

And now I’m back at work. Which means, among other things, a lot more FitPoints® for walking. My office is, happily, much bigger than my apartment. And I can always hide in my car if I need a nap. And, as long as my ear unclogs before my next scheduled plane flight, I should be okay. Cold 1; Adam 1.3. (That seems about right.)

Talk to you soon.

Follow Adam on Connect @adam.k
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