It’s not just about how to eat healthy during quarantine, it’s about energy output too. Boredom, emotions, and stress can lead to eating all day and eating foods that normally would be eaten sparingly.”Sometimes” foods have turned into “all day foods”, and that can lead to us feeling sluggish, tired, irritable and basically feeling like a trash panda – and not in a good way! But why should we even try to eat healthy during quarantine?
Here’s why – upping your family’s nutrition and healthy habits will not only boost your mood, but it can help boost your immune system too. We may not be able to eat perfectly during this unique time in history, and that is OK. Do what you can and like our friend Ana says, ‘do the next right thing.’
Lets save the trash panda eating for when we can finally go cheer on our home team on the field one day soon!
Ideas to Help Beat Garbage-Eating Blues, or How to Eat Healthy During a Quarantine
Here are some vetted ideas – from an actual nutritionist – to help nurture the mind and body, with ways to encourage your family to create a healthier quarantine life.
Join a Recipe-Sharing Exchange!
Keep things interesting and avoid recipe fatigue by pooling favorite meals from friends, family, Pinterest boards and recipe-based Instagram pages for inspiration. Start your own Facebook Group to exchange recipes and refresh your meals on regular rotation, or join one of the many already-established Groups.
Shop FRESH and Local
Utilize fresh farmers markets and CSAs in our area. Many have the option of drive-thru or curbside pick up, online ordering, and even delivery. Check out RCM’s complete list!
- Madison City Farmers Market
- Brown Strawberry Farms
- S&J Produce
Maggie Valley Berry Patch
- Ayers Farm Farmers Market
- Duncan Farms
Make a Meal Plan
Even if it’s a loose one, a meal plan will help you feel more in control and have something to guide you and lessen some stress. You can incorporate meal boxes, local delivery services, and take out from Huntsville area restaurants into your plan.
Monday- Meatless Monday, vegetetarian meal
Tuesday- Taco Tuesday or Toast Tuesday
Wednesday – Themed Dinner Night
Snack Board Night: Let kids help cut fruits and vegetables with kid-safe knives and place on a cutting board or platter. Add some cheese or nuts and these are perfect for a light lunch or putting out for a meal to tide the kids (or yourself) over before the meal is ready. This family-style tray encourages kids to self feed and regulate what and how much they want to eat.
Meal box services like Hungry Root, Hello Fresh, and Blue Apron can be a great help and add variety to your meals. Even better, they are delivered to your door with recipes and fresh ingredients ready to go. Many local grocers also have their own store version of these kits too. Check Kroger and Publix for their meal boxes.
If you are able, once a week chose delivery or takeout from a local Huntsville restaurant. Most restaurants you are able to make healthier choices (if desired), choosing a baked/grilled/broiled protein option, add a fresh element with raw veggies, salad or fresh fruit option.
Choose Pre-Packaged Foods Wisely
It starts when you add things to your cart, either physically or online. Here are my tips on making those decisions:
- Choose foods that you enjoy AND that will nourish and sustain your body. If you are only buying highly processed foods, that’s all you will eat. Fill your home with plenty of nutrient-dense foods on hand to help make the choice easier. Save those pre-packaged snacks as a very occasional indulgence.
- Check how much added sugars are present relative to the amount of protein and fat. If it’s an option, choose whole grain – even goldfish crackers have a whole grain version. While not perfect, the little bit of extra fiber will aid in a slower rise in blood sugars and, paired with a protein and healthy fat, this snack just got upgraded to a healthier choice!
- Snack smart. Incorporate protein, carbs, and fat – like a trail mix – into your snacks for more staying power. Often times, highly processed carbohydrate loaded snacks quickly leave us hungry and wanting more. Adding the healthy fat and protein into the mix will leave you satisfied longer and help regulate blood sugars.
To eat healthy during quarantine it’s not just about what you put in your body. Output matters too. Get at least 30 minutes of purposeful movement everyday. Many area gyms are hosting free or discounted workouts online like:
Cosmic Yoga Kids (free on YouTube) Yoga geared towards kids (fun for adults too) with a story through movement. They even have Disney, Star Wars, and other beloved themes to capture kids attention.
Get out for walks frequently. Many neighborhoods in Huntsville are participating in ‘bear hunts’ placing animals or bears in windows of homes for children to find on their walks. Another activity bringing local communities closer are the chalk walks, scavenger hunts, riddles of the day posted in yards, and sensory games drawn on sidewalks throughout neighborhoods. Think hopscotch taken up several notches with twirling, sliding, backwards jumps and more.
Taking a walk after meals is also a great way to aid in digestion and help lower blood sugars.
Sleep & Hydrate
If you struggle with night snacking, try going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. This small act of kindness to your body will make a big difference throughout your day and week! Wake up around the same time each day if possible to help your body stay in a routine. That helps you avoid eating out of boredom or emotion as often.
The answer to so many ills is to drink water throughout the day. 64 oz daily is a great goal to aim for. Use a larger container, like a 32oz reusable water bottle. Write on the bottle the time of day to help pace.
Sick of water? Add sliced lemon, lime, mint, basil or cucumber to add some flavor and variety. Sparkling waters are a great alternative to sodas and diet sodas. Iced herbal teas with no caffeine count towards your fluid intake and aid in hydration too. Keep it local and order some Piper & Leaf caffeine free tea to make at home .
Don’t Forget Your Mental Health
Focusing too much on the news, negative stories and content can be damaging to your mental and emotional health which can also lead to emotional eating. Check news updates once a day and limit what the kids are exposed to. More tips from a psychologist…
Try to focus on joy and beauty when you can and don’t forget about laugh therapy – it’s is a real thing! Some nursing homes even host these sessions and it has be shown to boost mood.
OVERWHELMED? Focus on just one of these goals this week and add on from there when you’re ready. Give yourself some grace and ‘do the next right thing’. We love our Trash Pandas, but let’s leave those eating habits for the baseball field this season.
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Rachel Brown is a foodie by heart and Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator by trade. A mother of two young children, she is always searching for fun and exciting things to eat and create as a family. Rachel moved here from Nashville, TN in 2016 and is enjoying exploring Huntsville and all the exciting things happening here. You can follow her exciting Huntsville foodie finds on her Instagram @RocketCityDietitian or on FaceBook as Rocket City Dietitian.