By: Kae Tritle, RN Wellness Coordinator
As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have emotionally moved through various phases; denial, panic, crisis, and now a sense of long-term coping. We are beginning to realize that this situation is going to continue for a while. The word “marathon” is being used for the next phase of the Covid-19 response.
As we have experienced the impact of COVID-19 upon our daily lives, an area that is part of our emotional response is what we put into our bodies—what we eat, drink, and consume. Eating is a very complex issue; influenced by our family and ethnic traditions, personal preferences, cost, habit, and lately, availability. Food has many meanings in our society, including symbolic and emotional ones. It is rarely just the fuel needed to sustain ourselves.
Often our response to emotional situations is to comfort ourselves with food. Eating comfort foods is not bad, but too much too often is not healthy in the long run. Awareness is key. Look at what you are eating, when and for what reason. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry or if you are filling another need. Then make a decision. It is OK to continue with the comfort food, you are fulfilling a need. But reflect on healthier food choices for the future.
Some nutritional tips include:
- After coming home from the grocery store; wash and package your fruits and vegetables ready to eat bags or containers. Place in the fridge at eye level.
- Eat a fruit, veggie, or small amount of protein (peanut butter, cheese wedge, hummus, or nuts) for a snack instead of a sugary one. Use a variety of textures and flavors. Berries are sweet, carrots are crunchy.
- Review your portion sizes, use a luncheon plate instead of a dinner plate.
- When eating snacks, place the “serving size” (from the package label) in a small container. Put the bag away.
- Allow yourself your favorite treat 1-3 times per week. Remember to watch your portion size.
- Track your nutritional choices with a free app. I use MyfitnessPal; it lists the nutritional content of foods and will incorporate my physical activity in my calorie counts. It has over 1 billion foods in its database.
- Increase your water intake; you need six to eight 8 oz. glasses per day.
- Reflect on your eating habits. What do you reach for when stressed? What could you do differently? Be intentional.
- Try a new fruit or veggie every couple of weeks. You might be surprised by the taste and texture.
- Try new cooking and/or serving methods for your tried and true veggies and fruits.
- Avoid the use of caffeine, sugar, and other substances to cope with stress and emotions. Use other methods than food to cope with the stresses of life such as a walk or a physical activity, talk with a friend, journal, listen or dance to music, meditate, or pray.
Remember that food is a gift from God meant to be used wisely and appropriately for our good health.