As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, the weather turns warmer and we see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, it’s also a time of renewed interest in setting health goals. The …
As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, the weather turns warmer and we see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, it’s also a time of renewed interest in setting health goals. The pandemic has brought about a series of lifestyle changes for many that are both good and bad.
We have seen data that shows people were eating much less fast food, doing more cooking at home and eating with their families more. When you cook at home, you tend to have healthier eating habits. The flip side is that being stuck at home means more snacking and, with that, consumption of sweets, baked goods and sugar-sweetened beverages went up.
We all know when you’re home, you’re where all the food is. That makes it really easy to snack or binge on unneeded calories with such easy access and mental states such as boredom, depression, isolation, and uncertainty through the pandemic.
As we adjust to our changing environment as the pandemic fades, it’s important to remember how much our lives have been altered in the last year. Change is hard and nothing about transitioning back to the normal is will be easy. Remember to keep the good habits, ditch the bad.
One way to help yourself is to leave trigger foods behind. If cookies or chips are your trigger foods, don’t buy those on your next grocery store run — especially if you’re still perhaps working from home. Continuing to eat less fast food and enjoying more family meals at home is a great habit to keep.
Next, go slow and steady. We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare: Even though some people are able to change their habits and pivot to a healthy lifestyle at the drop of a hat, not everyone can make the transition at the same pace.
In the long run, consistency is of bigger importance than speed. Start with obtainable goals that are much easier to achieve and act as building blocks for future success. For example, don’t try and give up fast food and alcohol at the same time; you inevitably fail. It’s easy to fall into this all or nothing thinking. Rather than trying to change everything, try one thing, like cutting back on fast food until you’ve successfully given it up. Once that’s established, you can add on a new goal while maintaining your newly acquired healthy habit.
Whether it’s diet, exercise, or managing stress, there will always be a step back along the way and it’s important to remember to keep your focus on the long term, not just today. And of course as we are able to be social again, find support in others who surround us and/or reach out to public services available right here in our community.
Together we can have a healthier tomorrow, one step at a time.
(Travis Tucker is the director of nutrition services at Powell Valley Healthcare.)