We spoke with Lindsey Wohlford, employee wellness dietitian, about how to stay healthy. Here’s what she had to say.
Choose fresh, plant-based foods when possible
Your grocery options may be limited, so try to make the most of what you’ve stored in the pantry and fridge. “Start by using your fresh foods first over more shelf-stable items to help reduce your waste and ensure you’re eating as much healthy produce as possible,” says Wohlford. “Freeze the produce you don’t think you’ll eat right away to make it last longer.” And, be sure to wash fruits and vegetables to ensure that they’re clean.
Stir fry frozen veggies with brown rice or cauliflower rice, or sauté them and serve with whole wheat pasta. For a bonus, try to make these dishes extra colorful. The more colors in your meals, the more nutrients you’ll get.
Opt for plant-based foods. At least two-thirds of your plate should be filled with vegetables, whole grains and fruit. The remaining one-third can be lean animal protein or plant-based protein.
Limit foods high in sodium, added sugar and saturated fat
“When you do grocery shop, try to limit the number of processed foods you purchase,” Wohlford says. “If they’re in your home, you’re more likely to eat them.”
Processed foods tend to be filled with sodium, added sugar and saturated fats, which can cause unwanted weight gain and health problems. Be sure to read the nutrition label to make sure you’re making healthy choices and heeding these recommendations:
Added sugar: Women should have no more than 25 grams (six teaspoons), and men should have no more than 37 grams (nine teaspoons) of added sugar per day.
Saturated fat: It’sbest to avoid saturated fats and trans fats altogether. Instead, opt for healthy fats, like those found in salmon and avocados. They give you energy, support cell function and help your body absorb nutrients.
Choose simple, healthy recipes
If you’re taking care of family members while trying to work from home, it can be difficult to find time – and energy – to cook. Wohlford says planning simple, healthy recipes is a good way to make it easier on yourself. Double the recipe and prepare multiple meals at once. Or use a slow cooker for extra ease.
Have kids at home? Get them involved and give them simple, age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen. Preschool-aged children can wash produce and teens can prepare full meals. “There’s a job for everyone,” Wohlford says.
Take breaks to reduce stress
Whether you’re working from home, binge-watching TV or minding the kids, it’s important to take breaks – especially if you’re sitting for most of the day. Be sure to stretch to help relieve the tension in your muscles, prevent injury and relieve your overall stress.
“If you can’t take a break, try standing or walking during a call,” Wohlford suggests. “Make it a goal to stand up every hour.”
If you start feeling overwhelmed, try walking or meditating. Too much stress can have a negative impact on your overall health.
Wash your hands properly – and frequently
Washing your hands properly – and frequently – is the single most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of germs and stay healthy.
Lather up with soap and water and scrub all parts of your hands — back, front, between your fingers, around your cuticles and under your nails — for at least 20 seconds before rinsing off the suds. If you need help gauging exactly how long that is, sing the ABC song once or “Happy Birthday to You” twice.
Staying well hydrated is essential to staying healthy. Drinking enough water – about 8 to 10 glasses or 64 ounces a day – can also help ward off cravings. “It’ll also keep you from reaching for carbohydrate-heavy snacks. If you don’t burn those extra calories, they’re more likely to lead to unwanted weight gain,” says Wohlford. If you’re choosing flavored water, make sure it has zero calories. Find water tasteless? Try adding a little fruit, bringing vitamins, antioxidants and flavor.
Be sure to limit your alcohol intake, as alcohol can damage cells and lead to cancer. If you choose to drink, the National Cancer Institute recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men have no more than two drinks per day. (A drink serving is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.) For cancer prevention, no alcohol is best.
Don’t forget to exercise
It may seem difficult to exercise when you can’t go to the gym or attend your favorite fitness classes. But, says Wohlford, “It’s important to find new ways to exercise, which benefits both your physical and mental health.” Exercise affects blood flow, how your body is nourished, and it can help reduce anxiety and depression. You should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Try an online yoga or Pilates class. Go for a walk or run. Or sneak brief exercises into your day. Getting outside is considered safe for social distancing as long as you stay 6 feet away from other individuals, but make sure this complies with any social distancing ordinances in your area.
“These unprecedented times are certainly tough, but they don’t have to be a setback to any health gains that you’ve made,” Wohlford says. “Taking these steps will help you feel your best and lower your cancer risk during these days of social distancing and long after.”