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How To Eat Healthy During the Pandemic

If you’ve seen a change in your eating habits during quarantine, you’re not alone. We all remember back in March when the lockdowns started, we were extra motivated to workout at home and keep up with our productive routine. 

Unfortunately, that lasted just a few weeks for many. Spending lots of time at home has taken a toll on our well-being and even our emotional eating habits. Sound familiar? About 85% of Americans say they’ve changed the way they eat as a result of the pandemic, according to the 15th Annual Food & Health Survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). We caught up with Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, to give us a few tips to get our mojo back when it comes to our eating habits.

“More than 30% of people say they have increased their snacking, and about a quarter say they think about food more often. Some changes are for the better: about 60% of consumers cook more at home, and more than 20% of people say they eat better,” according to the IFIC survey.

A balanced diet may be helpful for immunity and for fighting the novel coronavirus. Although we still have much to learn about how to protect ourselves from the virus, recent studies show that COVID-19 may show promise in understanding the connection to our immune system,” says Gorin.

Thankfully, there are many ways to get on track and stay on track with your eating habits and daily activities, even if you have to step outside or order take out. Here are a few ways to make it happen…

Make time for yourself: You are the most important person in your life. You can’t help other people if you don’t help yourself first. If that means waking up before everyone else in the house and creating time alone to meditate, do yoga or dance like nobody’s watching (because nobody is), go ahead and do it!

Make healthy food choices: What is the No. 1 way to ensure you’re eating healthy food at home? Procure healthy items from the grocery store. Whether you mask up and get those groceries yourself or have them delivered to your home, make good food choices. Here’s a suggested list to start with:

-Fruits: bananas, apples, peaches, berries, guava, plantains, watermelon.

-Vegetables: lettuce, broccoli, green beans, jicama, yucca, onions, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cactus, corn.

-Lean proteins: chicken breast, salmon, lean meat, tofu, edamame, beans, lentils.

-Whole grain: brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, barley, whole-wheat tortilla.

-Healthy fats: avocado, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil.

Order take-out with lighter options: Craving restaurant food? If you’re trying to eat healthy, you can include takeout from your favorite restaurant, just do a little research before you order. Some restaurants have special menus or options with lighter choices. Panda Express, for example, has a variety of main courses that have 300 calories or less and provide 8 grams or more of protein. Try the Kung Pao Chicken with 290 calories and 16 grams of protein, or the Black Pepper Angus Steak with 180 calories and 19 grams of protein. You can also choose to have it with brown rice or vegetables.

See friends and loved ones: We’re in unprecedented times, and it might be quite a while before it’s safe or you feel comfortable seeing your friends and loved ones in person. But that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain those human connections with your quarantine team! After all, these connections can make your heart smile. Set a virtual ‘happy hour’ with your co-workers, call a friend while you exercise on your stationary bike, or have a virtual dance party with your extended family.

Squeeze in exercise: You’re probably playing more than one role right now. Trying to be a super mom and star employee? Do you take care of your parents, uncles or grandparents, on top of everything else?

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This is such a stressful and scary time. I 💯 percent think we should all be social distancing right now. But the social isolation, plus the overall uncertainty of right now is…not fun at all, to put it lightly. I’m worried about my loved ones staying healthy, and I have too many friends who may be out of a job if things continue to go south. I’m also worried about if my upcoming wedding will take place, but that honestly doesn’t seem as important in light of so many bigger things going on. – * If you also feel the weight of the world or are feeling stressed by new work-at-home routines and kids home from school, or really anything at all, I put together some self-care ideas so we can all feel a *little* better. ❤️ _ * Shine some bright light on someone’s day and pass this graphic along to them. 🌞 Also check out even more ideas in this blog post I wrote up today, featuring anxiety-reducing tips from my registered dietitians colleagues ➡️ https://www.amydgorin.com/self-isolation-quarantine-self-care-activities-anxiety-relief/ (click on my link in profile)

A post shared by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN (@amydgorin) on

Well, exercising regularly will help you manage your stress levels and keep you healthy. You don’t need to put in an hour every day, just add some movement. That could be a five minute stretching session in the morning, a 10-minute walk after dinner, an extra trip to the mailbox, or calf raises while you wait for your vegetables to heat up.

Pre-existing conditions such as obesity can increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus. People living with obesity are considered high risk for COVID-19, according to The Obesity Society. In addition to the coronavirus, being obese puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. An adult in the United States has a 40% chance of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For Latinos, this risk increases to more than 50%, due to genetics, obesity rates, lower levels of physical activity, and diets high in calories and fat.

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