Support your physical and mental vigor with healthy eating!
We are living during difficult times right now, mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those challenges can affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is especially difficult to keep up the same routine when you must physically distance yourself from others. If you are at higher risk of getting sick from the virus, eating healthy is of paramount importance. Therefore, preparing daily meals can pose a challenge. However, below are some important ways in which you can help your family both physically and mentally:
- Do your best to eat nutrient-dense meals, like those in organic antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Those foods can help keep your body and mind healthy during these stressful times.
- Reduce or eliminate foods that can trigger anxiety, such as refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
- It is important to limit snacks to healthy nuts, seeds, and fruits. Overindulging in refined sugar filled snacks can lead to increased anxiety and tiredness.
- Getting the urge to snack on junk food can be eliminated. You must be able to recognize your cravings, then take some deep breaths and ask yourself if you are hungry or just bored.
- Planning a daily schedule and routine can ease your anxiety and help you stay focused. This applies to meals as well. Eat at your regular mealtimes and avoid snacking in between. If you must snack, have some nuts or fruit.
- If you are living at home with other people, eat at least one meal together each day. This can help reduce feelings of isolation, and help you practice mindful eating. Cooking meals together can also help you bond with others in the household and ease the stress of isolation.
Safety while food shopping.
Everyone can do their part to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, even while they are grocery shopping. By following a few basic guidelines, we can all shop safely and efficiently, while protecting ourselves and others. The key is to plan, limit your exposure to the virus, and buy only what you need. This is not panic situation; however hoarding lots of food makes little sense.
Follow these basic tips below:
- Plan ahead in order to limit your time at the store. Plan for meals and snacks for at least two or more weeks. Be flexible in case an item is temporarily out of stock, there are always substitutes.
- Include organic, healthy foods on your shopping list that have longer shelf-life. Those items can include carrots, turnips, potatoes, yams, beets, onions, squash, cabbage, apples, melons, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes, as well as frozen fruits and vegetables.
- Limit exposure to others by sending only one member of the household to shop. Do not bring along additional members, if possible.
- Wear a face covering or mask when shopping. In addition, many stores have cleaning stations to sanitize your shopping carts and hands. Use them if they are available. Do not forget to wash your hands after leaving the store and after putting away the groceries.
- Maintain at least six feet from other shoppers and grocery store staff as much as possible while shopping.
- Touch only the products that you plan to purchase.
- Do not use soap, detergent, or sanitizers to clean produce. They can contaminate the food and make it unsafe to eat.
- If you need help planning nutritious meals, the internet is a great source of information and any healthy recipe ideas.
Healthy eating for the entire family.
Social distancing guidelines and virtual learning methods have meant big changes in family routines, and that may include how you feed your family. Healthy food is especially important, not only for the body but also for your brain. That is especially true for younger and school-aged children. Preparing a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day may seem overwhelming, but taking it one step at a time, and focusing on progress, not perfection, will help in the long run.
Follow these tips to help your family create a healthy eating routine:
- If possible, set up times for household tasks or “to-do’s,” including meals and snacks, time for physical activities, school time, free time, and regular bedtimes.
- Plan your meals and snacks before you go to the grocery store. This helps you limit your trips to the store while making sure you have the healthy foods for you and your family. Remember, make sure to eat a balanced diet.
- Ensure healthy, appealing snacks are available and visible, such as a bowl of fruit, or baby carrots. Stock up on nutrient-rich snacks like dried fruits, nuts, seeds, yogurt, chopped veggies, and hummus.
- Get kids involved in meal planning and cooking. Involving children in simple tasks like reading recipes, measuring, and learning about fruits and vegetables can reduce anxiety and stress from the pandemic. That can be a part of their “distance learning” in reading, math, and science!
- There are lots of online healthy lunch recipes for kids and adults as well. Involve them in choosing and creating their daily lunches.
- Serve milk or water and avoid sugary drinks. If you give your kids fruit juice, limit it to one small glass of 100% real fruit juice per day.
- Your goal should be for at least one hour of active play during the “school” day. If possible, spend time outside each day, while practicing social distancing guidelines.
- Do your best to be a role model for healthy eating habits. Above all, have fun with your family!