Are you struggling to maintain a healthy diet during the COVID-19 pandemic? Don’t worry because you aren’t alone. Due to the unique circumstances posed by coronavirus, many Americans have been forced to change how they eat. Restaurants have switched to delivery-only and the stock at grocery stores is often low.
Considering this, your options are limited and this can cause serious health challenges. The deprivation caused by restricting food intake can encourage unhealthy habits like binge-eating or unintentional fasting. With some careful planning, you can ensure that you and your family eat as healthy as possible during isolation. The better you eat, the better your body will feel and your mindset will improve as a result. To help you eat healthily during coronavirus, we’ll provide a few useful tips below.
Create a New Eating Routine
You can begin by creating a new eating routine. Your typical daily routine has likely been disrupted due to being unable to work (or working from home) and isolating from others. This also has the side effect of disrupting your normal meal times.
In your pre-pandemic routine, it was likely easy for you to fit in your meals. You knew where you needed to be and at what time, so you naturally found ways to accommodate eating. Perhaps you ate breakfast before heading to work, had lunch midway through work, and then ate dinner upon returning from work. Many people follow a similar schedule, often supplementing with snacks between meals.
Coronavirus has likely eliminated that structure and this is where problems happen. Instead of eating at your normal times, you no longer have the cues that signal you to eat. Alternatively, you might just eat when you feel hungry. This can quickly cause issues because you might be so hungry that you prefer something quick and easy rather than cooking something healthier.
By implementing a new routine with meals at the same time each day, you can plan better and ensure that you eat healthily.
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Next, you should make a point to eat plenty of fiber every day. Fiber is an essential component of any diet, but it can also be particularly useful during the pandemic. The primary reason for this is because fiber is highly filling.
When you eat fiber-rich foods like beans, avocado, and bran, you feel fuller throughout the day. This curbs hunger strikes and makes you less likely to snack throughout the day. It’s okay to snack here and then, but frequently consuming large portions of unhealthy snacks will quickly add up.
Another benefit of fiber is regulating your bowel movements. This is another significant part of staying healthy because it prevents debilitating ailments like constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. Try to get at least 25 grams of fiber each day, preferably from varied sources. Make sure to always drink plenty of water with your fiber to help it digest!
Opt for Fresh Produce
Another important tip is to opt for fresh produce when shopping at the grocery store. During an uncertain time like this current pandemic, you might think that stocking up on non-perishables is best. There is wisdom behind stocking up on canned and frozen goods. It’s difficult to determine how long and extensive this pandemic will be, so you want to be prepared for any scenario. That said, you shouldn’t neglect fresh produce. Plenty of fresh produce is still available at grocery stores.
You should also know that fresh food and produce are often healthier than canned or frozen alternatives. This is because something like canned vegetables often contains sodium from added salt. Other additives like sugar, preservatives, and oil are also used. Not all canned and frozen foods have additives, but most do. If you aren’t careful when buying food, you may unintentionally purchase canned and frozen food with additives. Buying fresh food eliminates this risk because you’re purchasing food in its raw, natural form. This is when it provides the most nutritional benefit, so take advantage of this and implement it into your daily diet!
Limit Processed Food
Finally, limiting processed food will greatly improve your diet. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, especially because processed food tends to have a longer shelf life. While processed food lasts longer, it’s typically because of added ingredients. This includes the additives mentioned above, but processed food is also usually pre-cooked. This means it’s prepared with other ingredients and is far less healthy than a home-prepared version.
The problem with processed food is that it’s often loaded with sugar, unhealthy fat, and salt/sodium. These are tolerable in moderation, but processed food tends to contain it in particularly high concentrations. If you’re curious, check the sodium content of the next frozen meal you want to buy. A healthy diet entails eating no more than 2,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Any single meal that accounts for more than a third or even a quarter of this is a lot at once.
Considering this, home-cooked meals are almost always better for you. Just be careful to avoid accidentally making it unhealthy by loading up on butter, oil, or salt.
While eating well during coronavirus may seem impossible, it’s certainly doable if you care enough! You can control what you buy and eat, so it’s up to you to make healthy eating choices.
A few useful tips to encourage healthy eating include creating a new eating routine, eating plenty of fiber, opting for fresh produce, and limiting processed food. Unhealthy food can make you feel better, but you likely know that it makes you feel worse overall. Healthy food allows your body to thrive and perform at its best!