January 23rd, 2021

Different routine, different eating habits

By Submitted Article on May 22, 2020.

Healthy eating can be a challenge during COVID isolation

Pat MacIntosh


I don’t know about you, but working from home has definitely changed my eating habits. Before, when I had a regular routine, it was easier to eat healthier. I would plan and pack lunch before I left in the morning. I didn’t have food available everywhere and I wasn’t eating as often. Now that I work from home, it is too easy to just head to the kitchen and grab something whenever the mood strikes.

I decided it was time to take stock of things and make some changes. If you also need to make some changes, these tips may help you.

1. Get back to some kind of routine. Make time for regular meals and snacks. You may be eating breakfast a little later than before so plan for a midday meal a little later as well. Try to avoid grazing throughout the day.

2. If you find yourself eating food just because it is there, put it away in a cupboard. Often, out of sight means out of mind. Put treat items like chocolate at the back of the pantry and move healthier items to the front. If you do find yourself searching, you are more likely to grab what you see first.

3. Plan ahead for when you are actually hungry and need a snack. Some healthy options include:

– A bowl of fresh fruit on top of the cupboard;

– Cut up vegetables or individual yogurts in the fridge so they are the first thing you see when you open the door;

– Whole-grain crackers in the front of the pantry;

– Whole-grain muffins in the freezer.

Kids can also get involved in planning and food preparation. This google site created by our school health team has some great resources for cooking with kids (as well as mental health and activity resources.) The information found here applies to adults as well. bit.ly/healthathomeMay

4. If you are eating due to stress or boredom; find a way to manage the emotions. Go for a walk or a bike ride, call or video chat with a friend, put on some music and dance or sing out loud. The bit.ly link above has other ideas to stay active and cope with your new “normal.” Alberta Health Services offers more resources to help manage stress: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/amh/Page16759.aspx.

5. Don’t forget the drinks you choose. Sugary drinks such as pop, slushes, sports drinks and fruit drinks contain a lot of sugars (which means a lot of calories). A 591 ml bottle of pop or fruit drink has about 16 teaspoons of sugar! Instead, choose healthy options such as water, milk, or unsweetened teas and coffees. There are some really great tasting naturally flavoured sparkling waters as well. Keep milk and plant-based beverages plain or blend them with yogurt and frozen fruit to make a homemade smoothie.

While we are all dealing with the changes in our regular day to day routine, it is more important than ever to look after yourself and your families. Take the time to assess how your daily habits have changed. You may have to cut yourself a little slack; do the best you can with what you have. Stay well everyone, we will see each other on the other side.

Pat MacIntosh is a Registered Dietitian with Alberta Health Services, Population and Public Health. She can be reached via email, pat.macintosh@ahs.ca.

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