Tips for Staying Healthy During COVID-19

With families spending more time together during COVID-19, one of the biggest challenges can come from stress and anxiety resulting in bad eating habits. Comprehensive Cancer Centers  understands that the current reality disrupts normal patterns in life, including eating schedules. This might mean discontinuing normal breakfasts and lunches, along with dinners.

Meal planning for a family can be difficult with seclusion at home, more people to feed with different tastes and wants, and markets with limited groceries and shopping times. There’s also the uncertainly of empty shelves, with normal grocery options unavailable, at least temporarily. There is a greater temptation to buy whatever you can find, even if it’s not part of your normal diet.

Coping with being quarantined can also cause many to reach for a favorite salty or sweet snack because of boredom or feeling on edge. A few pretzels or chips are okay, but many people may not be able to step away from eating the entire bag once it’s open. Also, if you’re already feeling blue, the quick fix of cookies or cake will ultimately make you feel worse. Processed foods and shelf-stable items like baked goods contain a lot of simple carbohydrates that create a yo-yo effect on our blood sugar, which can drive anxiety and worsen mood.

So, what can you do to build good habits, feel better about what you eat, and make meals and food more fun? The following tips can help you get started:

Schedule and Plan

Make a schedule or a daily meal plan. A schedule is more predictable for you and for everyone in your household. Take a survey of those dining with you and find some common ground based on what’s available. Comprehensive’s blog offers a great resource of recipes for healthy eating.

Cook and Eat While Connected

Use apps to stay connected with other while cooking or during a meal. Using Zoom or FaceTime with family and friends to share recipes or for a virtual dinner party can make you feel better after having connected with loved ones.

Shop Smarter

While you need to be prepared for contingencies based on what’s available, plan for grocery shopping. Try to buy fewer processed, high-salt or high-sugar snacks. Load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. If you don’t have groceries delivered, a good option to see what’s available is by looking at grocery store delivery options. This will give you a good – if not absolute – idea of what is available  at the store when you go shop.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

You can save money and improve health by skipping sodas and juices that are loaded with sugars. You can make your own flavored water with a few simple items like oranges, lemons and cucumbers. Just squeeze a little juice, cut up and drop in some fruit and you have a tasty and lower calorie drink.

Take Comfort, but Not Too Much

Plan and enjoy comfort food for the occasional treat, just pick a day and enjoy whatever you like. This could also include take out from a local favorite and help support a local business.

Foods to Boost Your Mood

While people associate junk foods as being the best option for a mood boost, that’s not necessarily the case. Certain nutrients in foods have been shown to reduce anxiety or spur the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, and most of them are healthy foods, which include some of the following options:

  • Red Bell Peppers: Red peppers are rich in vitamin C, which in some studies has been shown to support your immune system.
  • Chili Spices: ginger, garlic, turmeric, and capsaicin can be easily added to soups, stews, stir-fry, or salad dressings.
  • Zinc Powerfoods: Foods rich in zinc include oysters, clams, mussels, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks all have zinc, which also has some virus-fighting effects.
  • Nuts and Grains: Magnesium-rich foods may help you to feel calmer, and include legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains.
  • Fatty Fish: Wild Alaskan salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce anxiety.
  • Probiotics: Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir.

Staying at home during COVID-19 is challenging for everyone, and the increased anxiety (and boredom) can cause people to abandon their healthy eating intentions and snack on whatever is around. But with a little thought and planning, you can continue to make good food choices and maybe even boost your mood and immunity.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

The physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for cancer, blood disorders, breast health conditions, lung diseases and sleep disorders. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer or  a pulmonary disease, call 702-952-3350 to schedule an appointment today. Comprehensive is also now offering telemedicine.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.