Nov. 16, 2020 — 6 a.m. EST
We’ve all become homebodies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re working from your bedroom, supervising your children’s virtual learning program from your kitchen table or simply staying in to stay safe, home is the best place to be right now. With all that extra time at home, you may have found yourself snacking more or picking up an unhealthy habit or two. As a nutritionist and personal trainer for over a decade, here are my top healthy eating tips to help you feel your best during this challenging time.
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Prepare Healthy Snacks and Meals
Nutrition plays a big role in avoiding weight gain. Stick to whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates — snacks that give your body the energy and nutrients it needs. Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time like pre-chopped veggies and hummus or an apple with nut butter.
Keep a Food Schedule
It’s easy to graze on snacks throughout the day and eat at odd times when you’re working from home. To cut down on mindless snacking, set dedicated times for your meals and snacks. For example, lunchtime is at noon every day and snack time is at 3 p.m. This will provide much-needed structure when it comes to avoiding added calories. Drinking water in-between meals, and especially before meals, can also help avoid overeating and prevent dehydration.
Try At-Home Workouts
If you’re looking to build healthier eating habits, working out might help. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found those who began exercising regularly also adopted healthier eating habits. If you aren’t sure where to get started, there are plenty of fitness classes available online and on social media. These online workouts range from 10 minutes to 90 minutes, so it’s easy to find one you can squeeze into your schedule.
If you can’t dedicate a chunk of time to exercising, don’t worry. You can get some of the benefits of exercise — like the release of “feel-good” hormones such as serotonin — with just five to 15 minutes of working out. A study from the University of Utah found that even a single brisk minute of movement had a noticeable positive impact on exercisers.
It’s easy to grab junk food in times of stress — including during a global pandemic. Keep in mind, the foods you buy for your home are the foods you will be consuming during your workweek. Ask yourself if what you’re buying will help or derail your goals. Reference Dr. Oz’s grocery guides and pick well-balanced meals as well as superfoods and nutrients like zinc and vitamin C to help support your immune system. It helps to make a grocery list before shopping and never shop when hungry otherwise you may end up with a handful of extra, not-so-healthy foods in your cart.
Start A Food Journal
Keeping track of what you eat and drink in a food journal can also help you make healthy choices. Track what you’re eating, how much you’re having, what time you’re eating it and why. You can also jot down your emotional state and other activities you’re doing at the time to help you recognize patterns in your habits or how certain foods make you feel. Do you often feel bloated? That symptom may be related to your dairy intake but you won’t know unless you pay attention over a period of time.
During this hectic, uncertain time, it's especially important to put your health first. Making small changes in your everyday life can lead to big results. Try starting with one of these tips and incorporate your whole family for extra support.