Family nutrition: 4 health tips for parents during COVID-19

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Nearly a year after COVID began spreading across the globe, triggering lockdowns, we’re still at home. For those of us working from home, helping with remote schooling, or spending time in a shroud of safety, one thing has been consistent: many more meals cooked at home. Family nutrition has become a priority.

For so many working parents, this may be a new added source of stress and a new time commitment. There are more mouths to feed during the work day, and there may be fewer options for dining out — if you’re lucky enough to have the budget for that.

It’s safe to say that nearly everyone’s nutrition habits shift during a period of prolonged stress or upheaval, but more people today want to invest in their health, not just exercise. For working parents who may need inspiration to take the steps to invest in family nutrition, here are four things to consider.

Boost your immune system NOW with better family nutrition

Many of us wish we had more time to devote to healthier eating. But having a healthy diet is probably more important than ever. Why? Because it supports a strong immune system.

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told the New York Times that the highest risk factors for illness and death from COVID-19 are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or pre-diabetes, and age. If you take out age, only 12% of Americans are without those risk factors.

So now’s the time to build a healthy diet to lower risk of chronic illness, decrease vulnerability to viruses, and strengthen your immune system.

Model a healthier relationship with food for your family

During these prolonged periods at home, many people are looking for a better approach to eating and using this moment to prioritize health — without client dinners, office snack pantries, or the constant need to eat on the run. But as many working parents can attest, when they’re juggling work and family responsibilities like never before, it’s easy for their own health practices to sit on the back burner.

Everyone has their own relationship with food, but many people, including young adults and children, could use education about what a healthy food relationship looks like. When I was in college, I tried all sorts of dieting methods, which led to a horrible relationship with food. My search for a better approach eventually steered to my enrollment in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and becoming a certified health coach.

Is it time to make a change for yourself when it comes to your relationship with food?

Choose support over fads

If you decide you’re open to making that change in your life, you don’t have to go at it alone. And it may be tempting to follow the latest diet fad (from keto to intermittent fasting), but it may not be the best fit for you. One of the most helpful ways to have a healthier relationship with food or reach a health goal is with support and guidance.

Diets can be very lonely. This feeling can cause a vicious cycle of emotional turmoil through frequent highs and lows, leading to burnout and discouragement. And with social distancing guidelines in place, it’s even harder today to have that support from community, friends, and family. Virtual resources of support can be essential in helping build healthy habits.

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The good news is technology can keep you on track. Documenting and evaluating your nutrition in an efficient, photo-based food journal is faster and more impactful than counting calories, looking up protein content or typing up how many servings you consumed. When you’re in control of your nutrition, you feel in charge, and you can more easily hit your health goals.

Set strong habits to fuel family nutrition

Whether you’re a relatively healthy parent concerned about your family history of heart disease, or you want to start losing weight, it’s important to set new routines in line with your objectives.

Consistency is key to creating strong habits. While I like to cook, I don’t love to cook. So I regularly eat the same thing for breakfast: two pieces of Ezekiel toast with avocado, a little Himalayan sea salt and sriracha, and a matcha tea. But you need to find the starting point of consistency that works well for you.

Simple habits for family nutrition are more important than ever — especially since so many of us will be homebound for some time to come. How we eat affects so many parts of our lives: our productivity, sleep, energy, physical fitness, and overall health.

If COVID-19 has changed your eating habits, having a better life starts with eating right.

Discover offers and resources to help parents balance work and life during the tough times of COVID-19 HERE

 

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Emily Hochman

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