It’s safe to say that quarantines have changed most people’s eating habits to some degree. Extra stress, fewer trips to the grocery store, reduced availability of certain foods, and tighter budgets mean that many of us are being forced to re-evaluate how we cook, eat, and shop – and that can be a challenge. In order to shift your eating habits in a positive direction, nutritionists and dietitians share their top takeaways for making adjustments in this “new normal.”
“Personally, my eating habits improved during the quarantine because I had more time to plan and prepare meals,” says Aja Gyimah, RD. She has noticed this trend with many of her clients as well.” I put a lot of emphasis on three meals a day, and a lot of people skip breakfast just because they don’t have enough time,” she says.” Now that we no longer commute to work, we have more time in the morning to eat a balanced breakfast, which will keep you full and prevent you from feeling hungry and unfocused throughout the day.”
“I’ve always been a big meal planner, but during the quarantine, I took it to a whole new level because I really wanted to minimize trips to the grocery store,” says RD Sarah Rueven.” I got very specific so I knew exactly what to do and when to do it.” She adds that having a plan relieves a lot of the stress around food.
To deal with cooking fatigue, she started relying more on leftovers.” I often double recipes so we have lunch the next day, or if I’m making a dish that includes whole grains like quinoa, I’ll double the amount I need for that meal so I have extra to add to a salad or as a side dish the next day.”
It’s another creative way to approach each meal when you’re tired of cooking it from scratch.” When getting takeout, I order extra lean proteins and vegetables to transform into a meal the next day,” says Jenna Appel, RD.” This helps take some of the work out of adding cooking.” To make take-out healthier, ask for sauces on the side when possible and pre-serve in individual containers so you’re not tempted to overindulge.
Just like the rest of us, nutrition professionals have struggled with spending so much time at home.” Early on in my quarantine, I got into the habit of having a glass of wine before dinner every week,” says Jill Weisenberger, RD, author of “Prediabetes.” . Jill Weisenberger, RD, author of “The Complete Guide,” says.” Not wanting to let this continue, I decided to replace it with another behavior that also gave me the gift of relaxation. Now, almost every day before dinner, I pour flavored sparkling water into a glass of wine and relax with a book, a podcast, or a conversation with my husband.” Other ways to relax include walking, gardening, self-massage or meditation.
A plant-based diet has a range of health and environmental benefits, and is particularly well suited to quarantine times.” The switch to non-perishable proteins has become more frequent as dependence on our pantry has increased,” says Alicia Edge, RD.” With items like chickpeas, lentils, and beans, my confidence in cooking with plant proteins has increased and my repertoire of meatless family meals has grown.”
“If I want something sweet, I used to go to my local health food store during the week and buy a cookie or a chocolate bar without thinking,” says Melissa Boufounos, a certified holistic nutritionist and Precision Nutrition Level II coach.” But when I go out for that one food, I end up buying a bunch of other quick, easy foods I don’t need.” Now, with an overall reduction in trips to the grocery store, Boufounos finds herself only buying treats on her main grocery trips. If she runs out before the end of the week.” We’re not going out just to buy another chocolate bar,” she says, which means fewer impulse grocery store purchases overall. Consider what you might be buying that you don’t really need and see how you can reduce your spending to make your budget more reasonable.
Finding a use for the components that are currently collecting dust in your cabinets is both satisfying and budget-friendly.” For example, I recently made a delicious Brazilian cheese bread using some of my tapioca flour,” says Summer Yule, a registered dietitian and recipe developer.” I also used some chickpea flour to make a really delicious pizza crust for a recipe I bought a while back but haven’t used since. Using what I have keeps me from having to go to the store as often and gives me more healthy variety in my diet.”
RD’s Kristen Carli says, “I’ve noticed that with all the high stress, I’ve been craving more comfort foods.” I’ve been increasing my healthy fat and protein intake to help combat these cravings. Doing so helps me stay more full throughout the day.” Carli recommends eating a full breakfast of eggs, toast and fruit, and having a balanced snack on hand, such as apple slices with peanut butter. You can also try logging your food in an app like MyFitnessPal to see how you can increase your healthy fat and protein intake while cutting down on processed foods.