Pandemic Blues: Eating tips to help get you back on track

Eating tips for the pandemic

Many of us, it seems, spent a good part of 2020 baking banana bread and mindlessly snacking while we were sheltering at home. Our routines changed so dramatically last year that it’s only natural we strayed from some of our healthy habits. As we start a new year, hoping that life will return to some semblance of normality in the coming months, how do we get our diets back on track?  Here are a few healthy eating tips you can apply by making a few lifestyle changes.

Keep up the (healthy) at-home cooking: One positive thing that came out of the pandemic is that more people have been cooking at home. Even when restaurants reopen, the more meals you can cook at home can help you work more nutrient-dense foods into your day. This means using a range of colorful fruits and vegetables, foods that contain healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and fish, high fiber whole grains and beans, and lean protein sources – including plant-based proteins – in your cooking. Even though many of us are experiencing cooking fatigue, experimenting in the kitchen with fresh ingredients and new recipes can make healthy eating delicious and fun. Making trendy pancake cereal and too many comfort foods, on the other hand, is something we can leave behind.

Enjoy healthy takeout:  Until we’re able to regularly dine-in again, many of us are turning to take-out meals for a change of pace, and to support local businesses. Rather than using ordering in as an excuse to over-indulge, try to choose meals that fit closely with your usual healthy pattern.  Since you’ll likely be reviewing menu offerings online, take your time to select items that include plenty of vegetables and lean protein – a healthy stir-fry or a protein-topped tossed salad, for example.  Some restaurants will have nutrition information posted, too, which can help you make better choices.  If you decide to order extra items so that you’ll have enough food for the next day, set tomorrow’s portion aside right away so you’re not tempted to overeat.

Connect with like-minded Individuals: When it comes to making diet and weight loss changes, a supportive community can make all the difference. Find people who share your desire to adopt a healthier lifestyle or lose weight and connect with them. Sharing your favorite healthy recipes, talking through challenges, keeping each other accountable, and cooking together – even remotely – can help with meaningful lifestyle changes,

Preparation is key: While working from home, it’s easy to mindlessly snack and eat unhealthy options because they are readily accessible. It’s just as easy to grab a healthy snack if you are prepared and have items ready and visible. Keep cut carrots and celery in your fridge along with some hummus , and you have a satisfying snack. A bowl of fresh fruit on the counter can encourage healthy snacking, too – you can slice apples and dip them in nut butter or toss a banana into a quick and healthy protein shake.

Additionally, meal planning may be time-consuming upfront, but it makes it much more likely you will stick to a healthy eating plan throughout the week. But a well-stocked refrigerator, freezer and pantry can help.  You can pre-prepare healthy grains like brown rice or quinoa, have various veggies at the ready in your fridge or freezer.  For protein, you can turn to quick-cooking chicken breasts and fish,   opt for canned tuna, salmon or beans  in the pantry or pull some shrimp or veggie burgers from the freezer. Voila, you’re prepared to make healthy bowls, salads, and stir-fries all week.

The last year has been challenging on so many levels. Don’t beat yourself up if you gained weight or didn’t exercise as much as you’d like. Likewise, if you fall off your healthy eating plan for a bit, dust yourself off and get back on. These eating tips are designed to help fuel your body with the right nutrients and engaging in regular physical activity are healthy habits you can maintain. Motivate yourself with the knowledge that it’s one of the very best things you can do for yourself!

Susan Bowerman, Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition

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