Similar to when we gain the “Freshman 15”, we are now having new experiences that can potentially lead to gaining the “COVID-19” Whether sheltering in place or providing care as an essential employee, this unique situation filled with stress and anxiety lends itself to developing unhealthy behaviors. Below are some steps you can take to help maintain both your physical and mental health.
Create Structure— when staying at home, it is easy to graze throughout the day instead of eating set meals and snacks. It is important to set a mealtime schedule and stick to it. This may be a good time to take advantage of not having afterschool activities and other errands– plan a nutritious dinner and reconnect as a family around the table. Just as important as your meals, plan out your snacks as well and make sure to practice good portion control.
Stock your Pantry and Fridge Strategically— it is important to keep items on hand so that you can prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family. Stock your pantry with non- perishables such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice or ancient grains, canned beans, canned tuna packed in water, whole grain cereal and crackers, tomato sauce, popcorn kernels, and fruit cups packed in juice. Try to limit chips and cookies to just one variety to help avoid overeating empty calories. Load up your fridge and freezer with eggs, low fat milk, yogurt, cheese, frozen vegetables, frozen fish/chicken/lean ground turkey, and frozen waffles/pancakes. Keep fresh pro- duce on hand that does not spoil quickly such as apples, oranges, green bananas, baby carrots, celery and potatoes.
Allow One Treat Each Day— it’s great to have something to look forward to without over- indulging. Leave the container and take out a single portion so you are not tempted to eat more. This is also a great time to get your kids in the kitchen so they can help bake cookies, frost cup- cakes, etc. Consider baking from scratch so you can substitute some healthier ingredients.
Maintain Hydration— thirst can easily be confused with hunger, especially when we are looking to snack out of boredom. Most adults require around 2L or 68 ounces of fluids each day, and it is recommended to choose mostly calorie-free options. Remember that your morning coffee or soup for lunch contribute to your overall fluid intake. Consider saving a one or two liter bottle and refilling it with your calorie-free beverage of choice to help track your daily intake.
Written by: Julie Tasher, RD