Getting Back to Healthy Habits

By: Lilli Rozanski, MS, RDN, LDN, Sports and Fitness Dietitian, Thibodaux Regional Health System


This is an anxious time. For those of us able to stay at home, this new, unwelcomed way of life might have given you free, 24-hour access to the fridge and kitchen pantry. During times of high stress, it is common for eating habits to change. You may have been eating more, eating less or forgetting to eat at all, but there are ways to start implementing better habits to help when normal life returns. The bad habits you picked up may seem innocent, but the health risks involved in consistent over and undereating can add up, especially if you were more sedentary during this time as well. Learning to be mindful of your eating habits now can help you ease back into a more normal life.

If COVID-19 has caused you to pick up some bad habits while staying at home, here are some tips to help get you back on track.

Schedule a Time for Meals

If you have been working from home, you may have lost your typical daily structure. Normally you might have had meals around the same time every day at the office. Sticking to that schedule might be difficult when working at home. Start to reintroduce that former structure to help get your habits back on track and ease back into normal eating habits. Schedule a specific time for breakfast, lunch and dinner on your calendar to eat only, no working allowed. This helps to give you something to look forward to and helps you to savor your meals, therefore feeling more satisfied. It might also be useful to set a specific place in your home for meals. Try not to mix work with food.

Continue Cooking/Start Bringing it Back

A survey found that more than half of Americans (54%) reported cooking more and 46% reported baking more. Of those that reported cooking more, 75% said they have become more confident in the kitchen, learning more about cooking and enjoying it more than they did before quarantine. The survey also found that among Americans who are cooking more often, over half (51%) reported they will continue to do so when life starts to return to normal. If you are one of those that cooked more during quarantine, try to continue doing so! If you did not cook more during quarantine, try to ease back into it. Even in normal times, home-cooked meals are a healthier option. Incorporating them back in now can help your overall health as well. Meals do provide energy and nutrients our bodies need, but they are also a time of pleasure and enjoyment.

Be Mindful of Mindless Snacking

Self-control is already hard without the added stress of a pandemic, so as you start to return to normal daily life, it might be helpful to keep the pantry clear of foods you want to phase out of your current diet. Consider throwing out any highly processed foods like cookies, juices and chips. These foods are easily overeaten, especially when eating them while you are distracted. Try to incorporate more mindful eating by eliminating distractions when snacking and having healthier foods around to snack on.

Start to Exercise Again

If you have been more sedentary during the pandemic and want to return to regular exercise now, start slow! Try not to go from zero to 60 as soon as things open up. Studies show that injury risk skyrockets when people try to quickly increase the amount or intensity of their workouts. Experts recommend starting at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before the pandemic. After the first week, you can slowly lengthen or intensify your exercise.

Using the above tips, one can make great strides in getting healthy habits back on track.

For more information or to set up a Wellness Nutrition consultation, call 493.4765.