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Smart eating while staying home

Technology has made it possible for individuals to work or study from home; but for many, the coronavirus pandemic has launched employees and students into a new way of life at home, and even new eating habits. With stress levels on the rise, fears of the virus on a constant loop in the news, and a far more sedentary lifestyle than normal – it becomes all too easy to reach into the snack cabinet for what may feel like some much need comfort or relief.

“While we all dream of skipping the daily commute, being thrust into a work or study from home lifestyle is a huge shift for many of Catherine Camille Cocciaus and it’s all too easy to take comfort in snacking or making unhealthy meal choices,” said Catherine Coccia, associate professor in the department of Dietetics and Nutrition. “With more and more people working from home and practicing self-distancing one issue I hear from my friends and colleagues is that they will gain weight. Between ‘isolation snacking’ and gyms closing this can be a legitimate concern.” 

According to Coccia, here are some tips to help make the right food choices and avoid unnecessary weight gain:

  1.  Remember your food groups: “Healthy foods come in all types of packaging (canned, frozen, and fresh). When you are shopping, try to remember that half your plate should be made of fruits and vegetables!”
  2.  Try to choose healthier snack foods: “Popcorn can be a great way to meet your dietary requirement for whole grains! Dried fruits and nuts keep you full longer and are perfect to snack on. Apple slices or celery with peanut butter can be tasty too and both apples and celery stay fresh in the fridge for a long time!” 
  3.  Are you hungry or are you bored: “Before walking to the kitchen to grab a snack take a minute to reflect on your hunger. Are you actually hungry or do you just want to take a break from your work? Are you bored?” 
  4.  Try cooking something new: “Social distancing may provide you the perfect opportunity to refine your cooking skills allowing you to whip up a homemade (read less processed) meal from scratch! Try using the time to try out a new recipe you have been dying to try or perfecting an old one!”
  5.  Treat yourself with grace: “This is a stressful time. Sometimes you might eat a little more than you normally would, or you might indulge in that extra cookie.  It’s okay. Just do your best! We will all get through this together!”

And for those who are feeling that social distancing is making your mealtimes a little too distant too, Coccia recommend virtual dinner parties “Whether stress makes you feel like eating more or eating less, social distancing is impacting our lives and stressing many of us out. Take this as an opportunity to cook together with your family or even host a virtual dinner party to remain close to friends – so that you can make happy and healthy food memories!”

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