We’ve been experiencing many life changes for months now as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage throughout the world. How have your eating habits changed? Notice that my question was not “Have your eating habits changed?” I dare say with all the disruptions to daily life in 2020, that your eating habits must have changed.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here if I assume your eating habits have not changed for the better. I know mine have gotten worse. If your eating habits have improved during the pandemic, I congratulate you! Keep up the good work.

Which describes you best?

     My eating habits have improved during the pandemic.

     My eating habits have stayed the same during the pandemic.

     My eating habits have gotten worse during the pandemic.

In the beginning, when we were advised to stay at home, we scoured the freezer for what to cook. We tried to prepare healthy meals, but it was difficult from the beginning. The hardest part was incorporating healthy vegetables.

And although I cooked more, I found myself baking comfort foods instead of healthy options. I started baking bread, cookies, cakes, and pies! The natural inclination is to reward ourselves for losses suffered in other areas of our lives. But that has resulted in emotional indulgence in unhealthy foods.

One recent survey indicated that over 75% of respondents said they had gained over 15 pounds during their period of quarantine! Before you know it, you can be mindlessly snacking throughout the day and eating meals that take little effort, like sandwiches and chips.

 

Plated Meals vs Munchies and Bags

How you eat a meal can dictate the volume you consume. Consider a party where chips and dip are present at a table. You casually munch on these items as you socialize. Inevitably, you'll eat more than if you served yourself food on a plate.

This same concept applies to environments where you're eating out of a bag, such as fast food or a popcorn container. Most vegetables aren't served in this manner, which means that you're probably eating items that are high in fat and lack nutrients.

This can send you into a downward spiral of unhealthy eating habits that contribute to depression, anxiety, and brain fog. In such instances, your body is just not getting the nutrients to support good health.

Eating Out Options

With restaurants closed and takeout the only option, a fast-food drive-thru appeared to be our only option. Foods laden with salt, fat, and sugar can only lead to disastrous results for our health. And as we continue to eat this way, the likelihood of making healthy food choices continues to decline.

What about the children?

With the closing of schools around the country, parents were faced with food preparation for every meal every day for the entire family. That alone created a situation that most people were totally unprepared to tackle. If fast food was previously a frequent choice, families were even more likely to make unhealthy eating choices.

Which describes you best?

     I have planned and cooked healthy meals.  

     I have eaten a lot of fast food ordered in a drive-thru.

   My grocery shopping included more unhealthy snacks than wholesome foods.

What can we do?

The first thing we can do is become more aware of our food choices and the impact they are having on our families. Are you using food to self-medicate and shield yourself from life changes over which you have no control? What are some healthy foods that are readily available and require little preparation? Start there with small positive food choices.

Think about ways you can incorporate more movement into what may have become a more sedentary lifestyle. Get outside and soak up some morning sun with a brisk walk. Walking is a good way to help clear away the brain fog and promote better decision-making.

What about sleep habits? Have you been staying up later binging on Netflix series? If your sleep habits have been altered, it’s likely you’re not getting enough rest and are feeling more stressed. Get back to a routine that prepares you for adequate and restful sleep.

And be kind to yourself. This has been a chaotic year so far. So many changes have been beyond our control, which makes it even more difficult to cope. Forgive yourself for not being able to handle everything perfectly. It’s just not possible. Look for little ways to reward yourself that also lead to more healthy habits.

Which statement(s) best describe(s) your plans for the future?

     I will plan my grocery shopping and food preparation to include more healthy foods, especially vegetables.

     I will implement more exercise into my day, especially walking outside.

     I will follow a winding-down routine before bedtime and go to bed at a reasonable time.

     I will give myself a break and implement plans for a healthier lifestyle.

      Nah, I’m good. Don’t need to change. Just going with the flow.

Are you prepared to come through this pandemic stronger and in a position to make better life decisions? If you’re not exactly where you want to be, consider my new mini-course, Designing Your New Normal Mindset. The interactive activities can guide you to making more intentional decisions in line with how you want to move forward with your life. Check it out here: https://designingyournewnormal.com/