Diet and Wellness Tips for You and Your Family

During these challenging times many of us are struggling with a mixture of emotions, lack of routine and structure, and stress. How we manage these emotions and stressors can impact our overall mental, emotional, and physical health as well as our susceptibility to illness.

Tiffany Rios, Shore Physicians Group’s Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator, shares with you some tools and strategies to manage your nutrition and wellness during this difficult time.

  1. If you find yourself mindlessly eating or emotionally eating in response to stress, create a list of non-food related rewards. Things like going for a walk, hugging your children, journaling, facetime with a friend/family member, or listening to your favorite music, are all examples of activities that can help us with soothing difficult emotions.
  2. Before you eat do a “gut check”: Rate hunger levels before eating, try to eat when you’re a 3 (Hungry but not starving) and stop when you’re a 6 (satisfied but not stuffed). If you are finding you are not a 3 and reaching for food, try one of the soothing/non-food related rewards. Drink 16 ounces of water with lemon and wait 30 minutes. If you’re still reaching for food- check again to see what level your hunger is at.
  3. Try Downloading helpful apps to manage stress such as: Headspace / Eat Right Now. Both aimed at improving awareness, mindfulness, and supporting reduction in emotional eating.
  4. If you’re cooped inside with kids, see if you can cook meals together and learn new recipes. This may serve as a great distraction and family activity.
  5. Exercise is imperative for our mental and physical health, aim to move for 30 minutes a day, outside if possible to maximize Vitamin D.
  6. Try adhering to an eating schedule; Eating 3 balanced meals daily about 4 hours apart. An example might be: breakfast and 9, lunch at 1 and dinner 6-7, can promote normalcy and help balance blood sugars. Avoid eating meals late at night which can impact sleep ( a very important piece of health)
  7. With limited visits to the Supermarket, you may need to make your groceries stretch. In addition to fresh produce, try purchasing some healthy items with longer shelf lives such as: frozen fruit/vegetables, canned beans/tuna, and dry oats/unsalted mixed nuts, and protein powder. Have a mixture of healthy pantry items to whip up a healthy meal.
  8. Do one thing for someone else daily. Research shows helping others builds positive emotions.
  9. Make sure to get ample Vitamin C and D, both important for our immune system. Oranges, Broccoli, and peppers are high in Vitamin C, whereas egg yolks, salmon/sardines, and Greek yogurt boost our Vitamin D levels.
  10. Stay connected with friends and family- having a sense of community is a known factor in mental and emotional health.

Finally, we all know these are challenging and unprecedented times. Each day give yourself credit for one positive thing you did for your health that day. With all of the negative going on it’s important to remember to encourage ourselves to continue doing positive.

I hope you will find these tips to be helpful. And, from me and my family, thank you to all of our healthcare workers!