5 Tips to Manage Eating While Staying Home for COVID-19

A couple of weeks ago author Annabelle Gurwitch tweeted, “Time is falling away…I definitely ate. That’s happening a lot: second breakfast, snack après lunch, happy hour treat, dinner, supper, late night munchies…” Are you feeling the same disconnection from your usual eating habits? While we are laughing at social media posts about sweat pants, the COVID-19#, or Covidesity we may be struggling to find a good way to manage eating in a quarantine. Here are a few comments from my friends along with possible “work arounds.”

  • “Is it just me – or do any others self-quarantining seem to want to eat all day long?” 

To beat this common concern, have a general daily schedule in mind. Plan time for working from home, helping children with school work, household chores, relaxing, and for preparing and eating meals and snacks. If you find yourself wanting to snack because you feel stress or aren’t sure what to do next, remind yourself that snack or meal time is coming up soon.

  • “I just ate the marshmallow Peeps I had in the closet for the grandkids Easter baskets”

Shopping is tricky right now, but try to keep some healthier snacks on hand. Ideas include yogurt, dry cereal, whole grain crackers, fruit (fresh, canned, dry), hummus, raw veggies, nut butters, or cheese sticks.

  • “Eating offers a temporary reprieve/distraction. However, its imprint can be more lasting on my belt line.”

The stay at home orders have been in effect for several weeks already, and are likely to continue for at least several weeks longer. Initially we probably had an “anything goes” attitude, but we need to be thinking about eating reasonably healthy for the long haul. You may need to make substitutions – canned veggies instead of fresh, homemade bread instead of store bought, different brands of familiar foods, but spend some time to plan “healthyish” meals that your family will like.

  • “I definitely am filling time with snacks and making things that I don’t normally make or make for certain occasions. Made cupcakes cuz I was bored and have been eating them a lot when I never really eat sweets during my normal day to day routine.”

Try learning some new cooking skills – home made stir fries, bread from scratch, or baked beans from dry beans. This will give you an outlet for your creativity without resorting just to sweets.

  • “Seem hungry all the time, not much else to do” When you feel this way, use it as a reminder to get some physical activity. Resistance exercise (with bands, weights, or your own body weight) is important to protect your muscle mass. You can use cans of food or different size bottles filled with water to simulate weights. I have been “walking” in my yard. I’m fortunate to have a reasonable sized yard and I walk all around, doing figure 8’s around shrubs and so on. If I get bored I call a friend while I walk or do an “alphabet scavenger hunt” as I walk…apple, bird house, chair, dormer, etc. There are plenty of exercise videos available to help you work out at home.

And don’t forget the upside of the quarantine! This upbeat sentiment comes from my niece, “But have been eating at home more! And trying to eat healthier snacks like apples, lots of carrots.”  Let me know what has been working for you!

If you would like to get tips like these each month in your email box, send me an email at foodfirst@kathleensearlesnutrition.com and I will add your name to my mailing list.

© 2020 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD