The new coronavirus causing COVID-19 will remain among us for some time, and this means continued social distancing and staying home more than usual.
And while staying home is nice, spending so much time at home comes with challenges — such as maintaining a healthy diet.
Amanda Beaver, wellness dietitian at Houston Methodist, recommends the following tips for eating healthy while you're stuck at home.
Pack in the vegetables
You probably already have a good handle on the grocery store items that are hard to get your hands on these days. Aside from household cleaners and hand sanitizer, shelf-stable items like pasta and bread are probably on that list — but produce, likely, is not.
Vegetables should always be one of the most abundant food items on our plates, but many of us don't get enough of them. Instead of hunting the store for starchy items to fill your cart with, use the fully stocked produce section to your advantage. Load up on vegetables, including the following seasonal spring veggies:
- Bell pepper
- Sweet onions
Try using these delicious veggies in a frittata, or roast asparagus sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon. You can also consider making Texas caviar, a bean salad that combines canned beans with bell pepper, red onion and lime vinaigrette.
Pick your meal times and stick to them
When you're spending a lot of time at home, it can become easier to sneak into the kitchen for a snack one too many times — especially since you've probably stocked your pantry full of foods you love. If you're working from home, you may also find yourself skipping meals and making up for it with junk food instead.
In a time when many of our schedules are disrupted, setting times for breakfast, lunch and dinner can help limit snacking and ensure we're eating well-balanced meals. It can also provide an anchor for our day — helping to provide a sense of normalcy.
Get your vitamin C from foods — not supplements or packets
Vitamin C plays a number of important roles in your body, including supporting your immune system. But — before you run out to grab a vitamin C supplement or packet —know this: Mega doses of vitamin C, which is any amount greater than 500 mg per day, haven't actually been shown to reduce your risk of getting sick with the common cold or other illnesses.
Rather, Beaver recommends getting the vitamin C you need through the foods you eat. Great sources of vitamin C include:
- Red bell peppers
Plus, these foods contain other beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that help keep you healthy. Vitamin C supplements are just a big dose of only vitamin C — and more than is actually needed, at that.
Use food as a way to connect socially
Now that all of our social activities are canceled, use the extra time you have on hand to prepare and enjoy home-cooked meals with your loved ones.
Turn the news off, put your phones down and gather in the kitchen to make a healthy meal together, and then around the dinner table to connect with one another. This social connection can help bring the happiness you need to get through these unusual and uncertain times.
You can also use online tools to set up virtual dinners with family and friends. To help make it feel even more like a group activity, decide on a menu ahead of time and start the video chat as soon as you begin cooking.
Concerned you may have COVID-19?
- If you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go.
This article was updated on June 22, 2020 to reflect the current state of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.