Dietary health remains important during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a local researcher.
Sheltering in place can create ideal conditions for weight gain, according to David Strogatz, director of the Bassett Healthcare Network’s Center for Rural Health.
Being homebound gives people greater access to their fridge than they might normally have, and it can also make it harder to exercise, he said.
“That combined with the fact that this is a sort of stressful time for lots of obvious reasons,” he said. “That’s kind of a double whammy; having more access to food and stressful circumstances leading to the possibility of more stress-induced feeding behavior.”
Go for healthy snacks
Being at home makes it easier to snack often, and now is a good time to shift to healthier options. Strogatz recommended swapping sugary beverages for water or other flavored drinks, and coming up with a go-to healthy snack option. According to Healthline.com, mixed nuts are a filling and heart-healthy snack; red bell peppers are antioxidant and vitamin rich; and dark chocolate may lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Keep a schedule
“See if you can stick to a normal schedule as if you were not at home and didn’t have access to the fridge 24 hours a day,” Strogatz said. “Think of a schedule or some structure as to when you would eat meals and when you would have snacks.”
Strogatz said the same goes for physical activity, and the internet is a good resource for finding ways to stay fit while dealing with this new reality, he said. Those exercising outside should stay six feet away from others, according to the World Health Organization. More tips on being active during the pandemic are available at www.bit.ly/34w1AR5.
Make healthy dinner choices
Full-time office life and long hours can tempt people to eat the quickest and easiest option, Strogatz said. Now is a good time to experiment with cooking if you’re working from home or have limited hours, he said.
“If in fact you have more time, that can be used as an opportunity to cook, trying to find recipes and meals that otherwise you wouldn’t have the time or patience to prepare,” Strogatz said. “And you can combine that with looking for healthy recipes.”
Though Strogatz said he recommends limiting the frequency of grocery store trips, that doesn’t necessarily mean buying massive amounts of groceries each time.
Instead, he recommended buying things that have a longer shelf life like canned or frozen food so you don’t have to go out as often. Try to choose canned foods with less added salt and sugar, he said.
Greene Great American Food Store worker Dan Decker said people hoarding groceries the first few days of the pandemic put strain on the store.
Though most customers are friendly, some blame the grocery store workers for dwindling supplies even though it’s out of their control, he said.
“I wish I could tell shoppers to calm down and quit panic buying,” Decker said. “Everybody needs to pull together during a time like this and not become animals that are going to eat each other.”
Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.