Whenever I chat with peers about how food decisions have changed during the pandemic, I seem to get one of two answers. Some folks have gone right off the rails with their diet, opting to rely more heavily on take-out and pre-made dishes. Others have gone the opposite direction, using their newfound spare time to fabricate interesting dishes and learn new culinary tricks.
Personally, I fall in the second boat as well. It helps that my partner and I enjoy cooking together, but more importantly, I've learned over the years that eating a healthy diet provides a solid base for good mental and physical health - which during a pandemic, is more important than ever.
So today I'm here with three simple tips to start building good eating habits with the current pandemic climate in mind.
Start getting into the habit of planning a weekly menu. This allows you to keep grocery trips to once a week. Start by coming up with some dishes you want to prepare for dinner, and write down how many servings it will make. Not sure where to start with recipes? Try visiting AllRecipes.com and searching the "Quick and Easy" section!
Pictured above is one of my favourite quick weekday dinners, Korean Beef Bowl. Try it out!
Once you have some dishes planned, break down the ingredients for each recipe and start preparing your grocery list. As you get used to this habit, it becomes easier to do some strategic planning. For example, a lot of recipes I like only use 2-3 carrots but where I live, they come in bunches of 5-6 so I will try and plan two meals in a week that use carrots.
Even though many of us are working from home, it's tough to make time to prepare a full breakfast and lunch every weekday. Save your cooking energy for preparing a nice healthy dinner, and keep things simple for your daytime meals - choose options that require little to no cooking.
Some examples: Breakfast can be a smoothie, some oatmeal or granola with yogurt or some fruit. Lunch can be a simple sandwich with vegetables and mayo, or a veggie wrap with hummus, or maybe a simple rice bowl with veggies and a splash of soy sauce. The photo above is a great homemade granola I prepare on the weekend, here's the recipe!
Keep snacking simple as well. Have some snacking fruits and veggies on hand at all times. Another favourite of mine is a few crackers with a small can of tuna. If you have good willpower, keep a bag of chips or other less healthy foods in your pantry and save them for a weekend treat. Save take-out for a maximum once-a-week treat as well. Nothing wrong with a little "junk" food, but keep it minimal!
I'm a stress eater, and have been my whole life. For years I went to food when I was stressed out, and spent years being overweight because of it. The pandemic has caused more people than ever to resort to stress-eating, which is even easier to fall back on now that we're home all day. Try to find other things to busy yourself with when you're stressed out. For me, a 10-15 minute meditation session does the trick in a pinch. Spending time on a favourite hobby (or taking up a new one) is also a great way to combat stress in a healthy way.
Get in the habit of pausing when you feel hungry. Feeling hungry when you're stressed is common, and it's important to pay attention to your body and what it might need. If it's hungry, feed it something healthy. If it's stressed, feed your mind instead.
Eating well takes some effort, but once you get into the habit of it, you'll feel much better and have more energy. The better you eat, the better you'll feel. Happy Eating!