Healthy eating while stuck at home – yeah, right!
If you’re living on planet Earth right now, you’re most likely confined to your home for the foreseeable future. And unless “home” is a Barbra Streisand-esque compound with its very own shopping mall, you’re probably not enjoying it too much. When you’re not feeling anxious about the current situation, you may be going stir-crazy because—well, you’re stuck at home. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY.
This is the perfect opportunity for those evil twins to call out to you. “Come play with us,” they say. “Forever, and ever, and ever.” Oh, they’ll taunt you. But remember, they’re not real.
Well, they are, but they have no hold over you. They’re just a fridge and a pantry, after all.
What did you think I was talking about? These two?
Then again, maybe the feelings are similar.
We’re not stuck in the house from The Shining, true. But we ARE living in a horror story at the moment, and it’s everything we can do to keep our sanity, much less worry about what we’re eating.
That being said, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy and keep your immune system strong.
And the most effective way to do that is with healthy food and hydration.
Here are five tips to help you stay healthy through this enforced isolation:
ONE: Stock your home with healthy foods.
I know, that’s not as easy as it sounds. I mean, we have some sort of toilet paper-ageddon going on in most grocery stores, and the food shelves are pretty bare. But there are solutions.
Try out a delivery service like Instacart, for example. It may take some time to get the items to you, but they will arrive—and you didn’t have to go to a grocery store and risk being around potentially-infected people.
Plus, the FDA and the CDC have made it clear that there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.
But, you say, what about the delivery person? Boy, you DO worry, don’t you? Simple fix: Once you take the packages in the house and put them away, wash your hands immediately. Wash any fruits and vegetables to make extra-sure they’re safe. And if you’re REALLY worried about it, clean the counter with a disinfectant wipe.
OK, now that I’ve calmed your fears for the time being, here are a few suggestions for healthy foods to stock in your home:
- Lean meats, poultry, and fish
- Nuts, seeds, and beans
- Fruits and veggies
- Whole-grain bread
- Other whole grains such as quinoa
- Healthy oils, such as olive or avocado oil
- NOT sugary snacks and sodas, processed foods and junk
Of course, organic meats and produce are ideal, but we’re all on a budget right now, and they seem to be way less available anyway. So here’s a bonus tip: Check out this page for info on eating healthy on a budget.
TWO: Order curbside takeout or delivery from local restaurants and support your community.
Restaurants have it really hard at the moment since they can’t offer regular meal service. A great way to support them is to order curbside takeout.
Many local restaurants offer that option right now, so it’s a double-whammy of goodness: You’re helping them, and you don’t have to cook!
One healthy eating while social distancing tip is to check the menu beforehand, which will most likely be online. Look for items that are a healthier choice, such as grilled chicken or fish, and vegetable sides.
Salads are also a healthy option—as long as they’re not piled high with fried chicken or sugar-filled dressings! I know, I’m such a Debbie Downer.
Ordering from your local restaurants is not just a good idea, it’s pretty dang vital to keep them afloat during these hard times. Helping them out will feed both your body and your soul.
THREE: Set a schedule.
Really? Isn’t the best part about being at home that you don’t have to set a schedule?
Not when it comes to eating. Why would you want to make it easier for those twins of destruction to lure you with their siren song? (Yes, I’m still talking about the fridge and the pantry.)
You don’t have to be militant about it, but having a daily structure can really help healthy eating while social distancing.
Set breakfast at a certain time, lunch at a certain time, maybe a little afternoon snack, then dinner at a certain time.
If you’re eating healthily, it’s unlikely that you’ll get hungry in between those times. Again, a regular schedule of eating gives your body the nutrition it needs to keep going throughout the day.
If you DO get hungry, however, figure out if you’re really hungry or if you just need to drink more water. I’ll discuss hydration in a minute because it deserves its own section (and then some!).
Another idea is to plan your snacks ahead of time, so you’re not heading into snack time without any idea of what you’ll eat. That’s a recipe for a Cheeto-filled disaster.
FOUR: Stay hydrated, my friends.
If the Most Interesting Man in the World were also the SMARTEST man in the world, he’d tell you to drink water instead of Dos Equis.
Fun fact: Adult humans are 60 percent water, and our blood is 90 percent water.
Here are just a few benefits of water:
- It lubricates your joints.
- It boosts skin health and beauty. Fewer wrinkles!
- It cushions your brain and spinal cord (yikes!).
- It regulates your body temperature.
- Your digestive system depends on it.
- It helps your kidneys flush toxins more efficiently.
If you do nothing else in your socially-isolated state, increase your water intake. You’ll thank me later.
FIVE: Be kind to yourself after “Healthy Eating while Social Distancing” violations
OK, I’ve shared all these healthy eating tips. But what about times when you want some comfort food?
Listen, we all need a bit of comforting these days. If you want to have a bowl of mac and cheese, go for it.
Healthy eating is all about balance. Of course, you’re going to want to eat some of your favorite foods. Just don’t eat them all the time.
And here’s the most important part: Don’t beat yourself up afterward.
Any shame you feel after eating a big bowl of pasta or a pint of ice cream is totally unnecessary. It’ll just send you down a shame spiral, and pretty soon you’ll be living in the land of “Who cares? We’re all gonna die someday anyway.”
Save yourself the trouble and just be kind to yourself. We’re all doing the best we can right now, and a little kindness can go a long way.
BONUS: More Advice and Tips for Healthy Eating while Stuck at Home
Here are some bonus tips you may find helpful, starting with this Time Magazine article.
And here’s a great interview with dietitian Samantha Heller on “CBS This Morning”:
I hope we’ve made Healthy Eating While Social Distancing a bit easier for you.
There you have it: Five tips for healthy eating while social distancing. Try them out and let me know in the comments how they work for you. Or maybe you have another great idea to share—I’d love to hear it!