Strategies to Optimize Nutrition During COVID-19

Many people are struggling with all of the new challenges of being in isolation during COVID-19 including overeating, stress eating, over drinking, having to look after hungry children, or just adjusting to this new norm.

I wanted to share some strategies to help you take control and eat better in order to feel better during isolation, and beyond.

  1. Establish your new norm or routine. Decide when you are going to eat your meals and how many meals a day. Stick with it to help feel more in control.
  2. Find another area to hang out other than the kitchen. Whether you’re working from home or you’re a non-essential worker or stay-at-home parent, it’s hard to resist the temptation to snack. Make snacking less accessible by choosing to spend time away from the kitchen.
  3. Put healthy snacks on the counter. If you leave out veggie trays or protein bars, it’s easier to make better choices. Try to avoid counter-surfing.
  4. Rethink your drink! Drink beverages that optimize your health. Leave out a carafe of water. You can flavour it with cucumber, mint, lemon, etc. Hydration is key!!
  5. Focus on what a balanced plate looks like.  Think of food as fuel that has a direct impact on blood sugar, digestion (heartburn, bloating, constipation, indigestion), mood (too much sugar, not enough protein) and the immune system, and helps us to feel better throughout the day.

Reframing Food from Calories to Fuel

Now more than ever is the time to focus on SUPPORTING OUR BODIES AND IMMUNE SYSTEM. Our bodies require vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and fiber which we can get directly from food itself.

 

How Do We Get Started? One Meal at a Time!

Start focusing on one meal at a time and hydration as well! Aim for the first meal of the day (no matter what time you eat it) to be nutrient dense by incorporating healthy whole food options on your plate. This includes healthy proteins, healthy fiber (fruits and vegetables), complex carbs and healthy fats.

Start the day off right by eating breakfast and making the right choices. Research shows that if we eat a healthy breakfast, it can help to reduce night time eating and reduces snacking as well. 1

 

Simplicity, Nutrient Density & Planning Ahead

  1. Lettuce Wraps – Begin your day with a plate of whole fresh foods (or frozen if unavailable), starting with romaine lettuce or other leafy greens and adding protein such as (smoked salmon, chopped eggs, tuna or turkey), veggies (carrots, celery, peppers), and a smear of avocado or humus. It takes only a few minutes to put together and contains nutrients to help keep us full and satiated with fiber, protein and healthy fats. Stabilizing blood sugar throughout the day will provide steady energy and concentration too. You can also try my Razzle Dazzle Rainbow Rice Wraps.
  2. Egg Frittatas Chop up some veggies of your choice and place evenly in a non-stick muffin tray for easy removal. Mix together 8 eggs and season with salt & pepper, then pour over the veggies and bake for 15 mins. Have 2 – 3 for breakfast or grab one for a snack. These contain rich amounts of protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for a great start to the day.
  3. Smoothie or smoothie bowl – Use fresh or frozen fruits (ie. berries) and greens to balance blood sugar (kale, spinach). Add healthy fats such as avocado or nut butter and your protein of choice (protein powder or 3 tbsp hemp hearts). Blend with your liquid of choice (water, coconut water, dairy or nut milk) to desired texture and sip on it throughout the day if you prefer to drinking all at once. For smoothie bowls, change up the ingredients by using less liquid and add banana for texture. View some delicious smoothie recipes here. 
  4. Chia pod or overnight oats – Protein, fiber & fat to go! Try this overnight Cinnamon Bircher Muesli recipe.
  5. Check out some other healthy food swaps here.

Hydration is Key!

Water helps to regulate our body temperature throughout the day, It can help remove waste and toxins, provides lubrication that may help with digestion and constipation and as well as to increase energy while possibly reducing headaches and stress. Learn more about why hydration is essential here.

Start from where you’re at right now and try to double that amount, working up to 2L – 3L per day.

Tip:  Before you have a cup of coffee or tea, start your day with a glass of water.

Options to Reduce Caffeine Intake:

  • Coffee alternative with no caffeine called Dandy Blend (up to 2 cups per day)
  • Herbal tea
  • Green tea and white tea (both high in antioxidants which may reduce the affects on the adrenals and cortisol levels)
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate option – I love the Reishi Hot Chocolate

 

Alcohol

As always, moderation and portion size is key and as a Cancer Coach, it’s important to be aware that “drinking alcohol in large amounts may raise your risk of developing cancer. The less alcohol you drink, the more you reduce your risk.” 2  Always look at it from a health perspective.

Healthier options include:

  • Wine spritzers
  • Prosecco
  • Mocktails
  • Carbonated options – ie. Soda Stream, sugar-free
  • Using a smaller glass
  • Thursday to Sunday timeframe and avoid weekdays
  • Red wine containing antioxidants

View the Canadian Cancer Society’s 10 smart ways to limit alcohol here.

Snacks

In general, aim to focus on eating nutrient dense meals with one snack per day if desired. Avoid grazing throughout the day or aim for a healthier snack option.

 

Have your sweets and eat them too by understanding better options:

It’s important to leave time periods between meals to reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity to get healthier and reduce inflammation.

I want to extend a special thank you to MB Designs Inc & Black Label Rentals, who have curated for you the GURUCOLLAB, an amazing menu of FREE Online Workshops for everyone in the family, especially great for this time in isolation, and also to all those who attended this Zoom meeting.

Register for next week’s Zoom meeting, “How to Eat Nutritiously, Stay Healthy and Boost Your Immune System during Challenging Times,  with Marsha Fenwick” here.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them for me below!

References:

1 “Breakfast in Human Nutrition: The International Breakfast Research Initiative” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Published 01 May 2018. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986439/>.

“Limit Alcohol” Canadian Cancer Society, Retrieved 23 April 2020 <https://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/reduce-cancer-risk/make-healthy-choices/limit-alcohol>.


Marsha Fenwick, C.N.P.  R.R.T.

Marsha is not your typical nutritionist. She began her career 20 years ago as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. Later, she earned her certifications as a Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner. Marsha is also a Certified Cancer Coach. Her clinical practice specializes in: sustainable healthy weight loss, digestive health, women's hormones, diabetes, heart health, and cancer prevention and recovery. For more information and to book a FREE 15 minute consultation go to Marsha Fenwick Nutrition.