Changes in schedules, stress and anxiety, and being at home more than normal can affect individuals in a variety of ways. Food is one way in which we may handle stress and boredom. Unfortunately, eating more or eating the wrong things will not fix the changes we have before us during these times. More than ever, now is the time to focus on self-care. We have been told to get outside for fresh air and exercise. Another aspect of self-care is fueling our bodies with healthy foods which help our mental health as well as help our body’s ability to fight off infections.
With extra time on our hands, it is important to engage in meal planning. Meal planning not only helps you set and stick to healthy goals, but it is also a great activity to help pass some time if you are bored. Going online and searching for new recipes to try with healthy ingredients benefits you later with some healthy meal ideas. Having your meals planned out for the week also helps eliminate extra trips to the grocery store. Now is also a great time to make some freezer meals if you have the ingredients in the house. Involving your kids in meal prep is another way to incorporate real life learning of math, reading and science. If your kids want to bake sweets (which can be a struggle for some to avoid eating), put them in the freezer so you can use them later to give to someone who is sick or take on a vacation this summer. Baking ahead and then freezing works well and keeps those tempting sweets out of sight.
What are some ways to handle emotional eating? It can often be a vicious cycle: I’m bored or stressed so I eat, then I’m bored or stressed again. Eating does not fix these emotions or feelings. What can help is finding an alternative activity to eating when you are not hungry. If you struggle with eating when you are bored, try keeping a puzzle around to distract yourself. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Read a book. Plan out a garden. All of these things will help those emotions. Sometimes even putting up a reminder on the fridge that says “Am I hungry?” can help to break the emotional eating cycle. We know that these times are tough, but we hope you found some helpful tips as you work on your nutrition.
By: Jennifer Lincecum, RDN, LD