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Published on April 30, 2020

Tips to Help You Keep a Healthy and Nutritious Meal Routine during the Coronavirus Quarantine

Keeping a healthy diet while adhering to the stay-at-home order is challenging. Since grocery trips are limited, we tend to purchase more non-perishables and food that will keep longer. This could mean more bags of chips, pretzels, candy and junk food stocked in the pantry.

Amanda Stahl, RD, LDN, clinical dietitian, Abington – Jefferson Health, provides advice for sticking to a healthy and nutritious routine while limiting shopping trips.

Keep Your Routine

It is important to stick with your pre-quarantine routine as best as you can and avoid those quick trips to the kitchen or pantry to snack.

“If you are used to eating breakfast before driving to work, then eat breakfast before you log on to your computer for the day,” Stahl advises. “If you do need a snack, try to choose healthy choices and don’t forget to monitor your portions by reading the nutrition label.  Remember to incorporate as many food groups into your meals as you can.”

There are five food groups that you should incorporate into each meal: dairy (low-fat options), protein (lean sources), fruits, vegetables and starches. Don’t be afraid to pull up a ‘My Plate’ picture to help build your plate.

Stick to Healthy Snacks

Although you may be craving snacks like chips, candy and other easy-to- grab junk food, there are better options out there! Instead, try:

  • Celery or apple and peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt and granola
  • Hard-boiled eggs and fruit
  • Hummus and vegetables or whole wheat crackers
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • String cheese and whole wheat crackers
  • Trail mix

A healthy snack should include protein, fat and carbohydrates to help keep you full until your next meal.

Stay Hydrated

It is important to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day by drinking water. Make sure you have a water bottle or cup handy at all times.

“It might be helpful to even challenge yourself to drink a certain amount of water by lunchtime or the next meeting,” Stahl suggests. “If you start to get bored of water, try to turn away from sugar and caffeinated beverages. These beverages can lead to an increase in caloric intake, cause dehydration, and may alter your sleep schedule too.”

Instead of drinking sugary drinks, try adding flavor to your water to increase your intake. Use fresh or frozen fruits like berries or citrus, cucumbers or herbs, such as mint.

Shop for Essentials

Before going to the grocery store, take inventory of what you have already and make note of the items you need.

“Frozen and canned foods are convenient because they can be stored for longer periods of time. If you do purchase these items, try to purchase items stored in 100% real fruit juice or water,” Stahl recommends. “Many of these items also tend to be stored in high levels of salt. Consider rinsing canned foods to remove some of the excess salt or look for items that specify they contain less salt with food labels that say ‘low sodium’ or ‘no added salt'.”

Try to shop for a mix of perishables and non-perishables. Remember to use the fresh foods before turning to frozen or canned items to avoid food waste.

Make Meal Prep Fun

During this time of quarantine, we are required to spend more time together at home. This is a great opportunity for friends, family, significant others, roommates and anyone in the house to prepare and share meals together. Healthy cooking is a great activity in which everyone can participate.

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