As the country begins to shut down again due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people risk inactivity and poor dietary intake as a result. Although now might seem like the most challenging time to focus on a healthy lifestyle, I might argue it could just be the absolute best time. Many people are spending more time than ever at home, can get outside more than when in the office, and are more focused around the topic of health because of the pandemic around us. Let’s talk about staying healthy during COVID.
5 Tips for Staying Healthy During COVID
1. Set up structure in your day
Spending more time at home often means less structure in your days. Try to maintain this structure by waking up at the same time, exposing yourself to sunlight first thing in the morning, eating at the same time, exercising on a schedule, and going to bed soon after the sun has set.
2. Get outside multiple times per day
Sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D that helps promote immune health. Being in nature has also been shown to improve mood, better regulate your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), and lower your stress hormones. A Frontiers in Psychology study found that spending 20-30 minutes outside in a natural environment three times per week lowered stress hormone levels of cortisol by 9.6% in people who live in an urban environment.
3. Incorporate 2-3 different vegetable colors at each meal
Vegetables provide an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that support many different immune functions and help regulate your bowel movements. It has been shown that greater plant variety leads to great microbial diversity of gut bacteria.
4. Limit snacking between meals
Being at home might mean more snacking throughout the day. Try to limit snacking by having food prepared in the refrigerator so that you can eat a meal when hungry and limit the consumption of less nutritious foods found in most snack products.
5. Experiment with new recipes
The key to a healthy lifestyle is learning how to prepare healthy foods you love! Try new recipes that incorporate more vegetables, herbs, lean proteins, and monounsaturated fat sources.
Learn more about nutritionist Lauren Papanos, MS, RD, CSSD here.