Eating well in challenging times
Change, stress and the disruption that comes with social distancing may be derailing your healthy habits. But it is possible for you to stay on track.
Like many people, you probably started the new year working hard toward your nutrition and health goals. Just as you got into a great routine, suddenly life changed. A new work situation, kids at home, gyms closed, and many other stressors make it challenging to stay on track.
Luckily, healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Consider these simple ideas to keep you moving in the right direction. Whether you implement one of these strategies or all of them, they can help you eat well while spending weeks at home.
Moderation and variety are key. Aim to have the majority of the foods you eat be healthy options (80-90%). The other 10-20% can be more indulgent choices. Include a variety of foods, colors and cooking methods to maximize your nutrient intake.
Go plant-based. Studies show that if three-fourths of what you consume comes from plants, you can decrease your risk for many chronic diseases. It can also help with achieving weight loss goals. Load up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
Watch portions. It’s easy to over-consume, especially when emotions, stress and boredom are high. Reduce your portions or use a smaller plate to keep your calories in check.
Make the healthy choice the easy choice. Keep temptations out of the house. Instead, surround yourself with nutritious options so choosing something healthy is easy to do.
Simplify. Life is already complicated. Give yourself a break and keep food simple. Choose uncomplicated recipes and meals with only a few whole food ingredients. This is better for your body and your mind.
Be mindful. Avoid grazing all day or eating your emotions by tuning into your body. Recognize your own hunger cues and identify your emotions. Aim to eat only when you experience true hunger.
Aim for progress, not perfection. Small changes can add up to a big impact. When we focus on perfection, we set ourselves up for failure and quitting. Take small steps and celebrate all steps in the right direction. Just keep going.
This is already a challenging time, but prioritizing nutrition in these simple ways can help beyond the dinner table. Good nutrition during stressful times can boost mood, prevent unwanted weight gain and reduce your risk for cancer and other chronic conditions. Use this time at home to take care of yourself and strengthen healthy habits that can benefit you now and throughout your lifetime.
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