As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are spending more time living and working from home than ever before. With the fridge and pantry within close reach, it can be easy to fill up on unhealthy foods and eat more than necessary.
How do you build long-term healthy eating habits, particularly when working from home? We asked Anglicare nutritionist Lauren Reeves to share her top tips.
In addition to the below tips, for overall good health, remember to move as much as possible throughout the day, get a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours is recommended), and take time for yourself.
To encourage better eating choices, do your best to stock the fridge and pantry with healthy foods. Plan ahead and prepare snacks and meals in advance so they are ready to go when you need them. Some good food options to have on hand include: Greek yoghurt, low fat cheese, ricotta cheese, nut milk smoothies, fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, hummus, avocadoes, raw nuts and seeds, vegetable salads and wholegrain savoury crackers.
Introducing changes to your eating habits can be hard, so don’t try to change everything at once. Focus on making one diet change at a time and slowly swapping the foods in your pantry for better choices. You are less likely to feel overwhelmed with a single adjustment, and the change is more likely to stick for the long term. As an example, this week you might focus on drinking more water or eating more vegetables each day.
Foods containing a high level of certain nutrients (superfoods) are great to incorporate into your diet, providing multiple health benefits. Consider adding these superfoods to your shopping trolley: blueberries (high in antioxidants, vitamins C and K), leafy greens (rich source of vitamins A, C, E, K and B vitamins and iron) and tea (contains antioxidants – green and white tea are best). Good news - dark chocolate is also a superfood, being very high in antioxidants. It’s also great for heart health and boosting the immune system.
When ordering food delivery, where possible, try to opt for healthier options. For example, trade chips for a baked potato or a salad, get dressing and sauces on the side and opt for grilled instead of fried or crumbed foods. Drink water or mineral water to avoid extra empty calories.
Air fryers are an easy and healthy way to cook food, using little to no oil. Traditional cooking methods such as steaming and roasting are also healthy choices. In general, it’s best to avoid deep frying your food, due to the higher fat content. Likewise, boiling is another method to avoid as it results in the loss of water-soluble vitamins. To help increase your nutrient intake always cook with extra virgin olive oil. Likewise, cooking with spices such as ginger, garlic and turmeric is also a great way to get some extra nutrients into your diet.
It can be easy to turn to food when feeling emotional or stressed, which can lead to over-eating. Paying attention to the food you’re eating, chewing well and savouring the flavours, can help you enjoy food more, and feel fuller for longer. It can also be useful to keep a food diary for a month to identify how many nutritious foods you’ve consumed and any unhealthy patterns.
Anglicare At Home offers a range of meal support services for older people, including consultations with a dietician or nutritionist. These services are provided across Greater Sydney, Lithgow and the Illawarra.