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Locking Down a Healthy Meal Routine in Quarantine

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The 2020 pandemic has certainly turned our world upside down, and while many things seem beyond our control, our diet doesn’t have to be. During this unordinary and disrupted time in our lives, some of the some things we may find inconvenient, like closed restaurants or supermarket shortages, may actually help to put our diets into perspective. As food items like chicken breasts, ground beef, and our favorite restaurant dishes become inaccessible, we are forced to adjust the foods that we and our families are eating. Though these shifts are often involuntary, they can have a positive influence on both our health and finances.

For some, shelter-in-place and work-from-home orders have slowed down the typical busy American lifestyle, and for many, have caused the loss of routine. On a positive note, it has allowed us to prepare more home-cooked meals, eat at the table more often with our families, explore the kitchen, and become creative with available ingredients. It has also directed us to reflect on our ordinary approach to food, the composition of our diets, where we consume food items, and how foods are produced and made attainable to us. More simply, it can help us to recognize our dietary flaws. So, while many are in search of entertainment, money-saving tips, and resources to maintain health during this time, reshaping our relationship with food may be a fitting endeavor.

Eating nutritiously is crucial for health, particularly in times when our immune systems need to be resilient. Though some may fear that grocery shopping limitations will compromise their ability to obtain healthy ingredients and eat nutritiously, there are several suggestions for achieving a well-balanced diet that supports healthful living, despite the challenges that COVID-19 may impose. Try some of the following tips to start planning your healthy quarantine meal routine:

  • Prepare home-cooked meals. ​For some, the lockdown has freed up time to spend in the kitchen to make traditional family meals, explore new recipes, and familiarize ourselves and our families with ways to cook creatively. By preparing foods at home, we are better able to control excess dietary sodium, sugar and fat often found in store-bought, ready-to-eat snacks and meals that play a role in poor health. Explore healthy recipes​ online by searching your ingredients.

  • Cook as a family. ​Just as sharing family meals can enhance child development and strengthen connections between family members, cooking as a family has benefits too. It not only unifies and entertains the family, but improves the likelihood of children developing healthy dietary behaviors and life skills. Additionally, it can be educational, create memories, and generate a better sense of appreciation for the time, effort, and thoughtfulness that goes into meal preparation.

  • Plan your meals. ​Preparing ideas for snacks and meals ahead of time will not only improve food cross-utilization and reduce waste among household ingredients, but will ease the demands of having to cook multiple meals daily when access to convenient foods are limited. It also helps to discipline portion control, avoid mindless eating of undesirable foods, and adhere to food budgets by limiting impulse purchases.

  • Explore plant-based protein substitutes. ​As COVID-19 has caused meat shortages, it’s important that we explore alternative, plant-based protein sources to properly maintain our health, minimize costly spending and better sustain the environment. Foods like ​beans, nuts, seeds and some grains​ contain noteworthy protein supplies; they’re also generally inexpensive and can easily be incorporated into the diet. With a growing health-conscious population, there are a plethora of vegetarian recipes available online​.

  • Seek locally-sourced produce. ​With so many people who want to restrict contact with others, grocery stores aren’t the ideal location to visit. Rethink your food shopping and obtain fresh fruits and vegetables by supporting local farmers. In some areas, they’ll even securely deliver goods straight to your door!

  • Avoid over-purchasing foods. ​It’s understandable that the pandemic has led shoppers to buy food items in bulk as products have become scarce and people want to accumulate survival supplies. However, this can lead to unwanted increased spending, excess goods that expire before consumption, and also, elevated intake of unhealthy, processed foods. Before your next grocery shopping trip, take inventory of your household foods and incorporate them into your meal plan to avoid food waste and to save money.

Learn more about ​how to balance nutrition during the pandemic​, ​ways to improve snacking during quarantine​, and other wellness programs offered by ​Wellness Workdays.

Written by Stephanie Carlile, ​Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern


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