Keeping Healthy Diet, Habits After the Pandemic

Many people have gone one of two ways during the pandemic: using the time to learn to cook healthier meals and make an effort to eat better, or eating whatever is easiest and feels comforting. We don’t blame anyone. It’s been such a different lifestyle than we’ve ever experienced. Everyone has handled it their own way. But, as the country reopens, how do we put our best foot forward?

Our top advice would be, first and foremost, eat the dried beans you panic-bought. We all bought shelf-stable goods, worried about food shortages. We purchased frozen meals to take the stress off of cooking. Eat them. Yes, it is always good to have food in an emergency. But, even dried beans do have an expiration date. Use those foods, don’t let them go to waste.

Our second piece of advice is to accept imperfection. Maybe you have gotten used to cooking complicated meals. But, as our lives fill up with more plans, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by our old schedules. Dial back your expectations and go easy on yourself. Cook simple things with fewer ingredients or buy a bagged salad — although you may want to replace the dressing with a healthier option.

You could also cook one large meal and have it for several days in a row. The weather has gotten too warm for crockpots in most of the country. But, some of our team have started to use extension cords to use their crockpots outside. You can have a healthy meal without heating your kitchen or making a huge effort.

A lot of people have been reporting more meal prepping over the quarantine: you have your meals planned in advance and don’t have to make many trips to the store. In our regular lives, meal prepping might seem daunting because it takes time. But if you make it an activity that’s just part of your Saturday routine, it can take a lot of work out of your weeknights when you are hungry and don’t feel like cooking.

If you have learned new recipes or habits that you liked while your area was telling people to stay home, stick with them! No, every night cannot be a fancy dinner. But, if you have learned to make dishes you love, throw them into your weekend menu. If you have developed a habit, it can be easy to leave it by the wayside when your schedule changes. But, if you have learned that you feel great after morning yoga, or that drinking tea by yourself is more calming than you thought, keep those practices. You might have to adjust your schedule a little, but it’s also okay to shun something you used to do before the pandemic interrupted your life. And remember, you don’t have to go to every social event just because you can.

It’s going to take a period of adjustment for all of us as our areas reopen. But take a beat and decide which habits you’re going to keep and what to let go of. If there has been some comfort food you’ve enjoyed over the past few months, ask yourself if you need it when you’re allowed to see your family for dinner. If there is a makeshift dinner you’ve learned to love, despite never having it before the pandemic, keep making it! Then you can share it with the friends and family you’ve been missing!
June 12, 2020
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