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This is how you eat well during COVID-19

Many people are following government regulations, maintaining social distancing and staying at home as they try to limit the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic. But being cooped up at home can mean that eating, especially eating snacks and junk food, is the way to pass the time at home. So, how do you stay healthy during a pandemic? Here are a few strategies.

Distinguish real hunger from desire for

If you ate three to four hours ago, you should be hungry now! Stay on a planned diet as much as possible with scheduled meals every four to five hours or so. If you need a snack to satisfy your hunger, plan for that too.

Time/Distance Technique

When you know you're not really hungry and you keep thinking about those chips or cookies waiting in your kitchen cupboard, you have a craving for a situation. You may be good at social distancing right now, so it's time to work on time distancing to control the cravings. This is how it works:

You just can't stop thinking about the chips. So tell yourself, “If I'm still thinking about those chips in 15 minutes, I can eat them.”

Set your phone timer to 15 minutes and do something – anything. Take a 15 minute walk. Read, brush, study, watch TV or call a friend. What often happens is that the desire just passes with the time difference.

But what if you still crave the chips after the 15 minutes?

Eat the chips – mindfully

Yes that's right. If you still crave them, eat them. But don't take the whole bag back to the bank. Read the label to see what a serving is and how many calories are in that serving. Then measure it and place it on a plate or bowl. Take that plate or come to the couch and eat those chips with focus, enjoying each one. Eating something healthy along with those chips can also help. Eat carrots or an apple along with the chips. This will fill up the time to help pass the craving and also fill you up with fiber.

Surprise the desire

If you find yourself feeling hungry at the same time every day, set up an ambush. Plan a snack that satisfies you and add something healthy. For example, don't expect only raw carrots to fill you up. Dip them in peanut butter or a healthy dressing or hummus, or add a slice of cheese.

Not only does the added fat help keep you satisfied, it also helps you absorb fat-soluble nutrients like beta-carotene from the carrots. Research has shown that when you eat vegetables without fat, you absorb very little beta-carotene.

Shopping in the time of COVID-19

  • When you shop, don't hoard. Buy food and think about what you need for the next week or two at most.
  • Buy fresh meat to eat for the next few days. If you have enough freezer space, use it.
  • Buy protein sources that will last if you don't have fresh meat. Cheese, eggs, tuna, and canned salmon are all good complete, high-quality proteins. Starchy beans combined with rice also make a high-quality protein. Peanut butter is also a good protein that when combined with fiber (a peanut butter sandwich) is a complete, high-quality protein.
  • Some fresh fruits and vegetables last much longer than others. Grapes, apples, carrots and potatoes stay fresh longer than lettuce and berries.
  • Buy frozen and canned fruits and vegetables for when you run out of fresh supplies.
  • And more importantly, stick to the rules of the supermarket and the government!