As we are all navigating our way through the pandemic, I can only imagine the amount of fear and anxiety that many of you are feeling. In honor of National Nutrition Month, I would like to share some tips to help decrease some of your anxiety when it comes to planning your needs for nutrition during COVID-19.

Self Care Nourishment Plan

Whether you are following a meal plan or not, now is the time to practice flexibility and creativity with nourishment. Every time we eat, we are acting on self care by nourishing our brain and body. One way to do this is to create a “tentative” nourishment plan for the day by planning out some ideas of what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — you can even add your snacks. Depending on how you are feeling each day, you can keep your snacks open for a spontaneous choice based on what you may want, as a way of practicing intuitive eating.

Practice Food Flexibility

Depending on what is available to you at home or in the stores, you may not have the foods you like to eat on a regular basis. This means venturing out of your comfort zone to still nourish your body with the foods you have available to you. When doing this, you’ll need to identify a coping skill to be used during each meal. No matter what it takes, we want to make sure you’re getting all you need when it comes to your nutrition during COVID-19.

Create a Nourishment Safety Net

This is one of those times where you have full permission to eat your safe foods without a planned food challenge. With heightened anxiety and stress, it will feel safe to nourish your body the best you can with the foods that feel good. The main goal is to eat your regular meals throughout the day and focus on your recovery during this time. If you are feeling ready and supported then please follow through with increasing dietary variety and incorporating some of those foods that may give little anxiety. 

Balancing Nutrition During COVID-19

Do your best to make sure you have some foods from different food groups, such as carbohydrates, protein, fats, dairy and fruits/vegetables. This is the time to buy foods from the various food groups to help you meet all your nutritional needs and in ways you may not have before — think frozen, dried, canned or pre-flavored.  Some alternative options that may be available are: 

  • Carbohydrates: 
    • Beans: if canned aren’t available, do they have dried?
    • Bread 
    • Pasta: do they have any fortified versions? Versions made out of other ingredients like lentils? Frozen versions? 
    • Other grains: rice, farro, quinoa, couscous, pre-made flavored versions
  • Proteins: canned meats, frozen protein options (chicken patties or nuggets, frozen seafood, etc), beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, nut butters
  • Fats: combo foods, tortilla chips, butter, cooking oil, hummus, nuts, seeds
  • Fruits & Vegetables: frozen, or canned
    • Applesauce or other fruit pouches
    • 100% fruit or vegetables juice
  • Combo foods: protein fortified pasta, protein smoothies or shakes, frozen entrees, etc

Enjoying food and viewing it as a way to nourish your body is a sustainable way to adopt a healthy relationship with food and celebrate National Nutrition Month. And if you or someone you love is struggling with disordered eating, please know that our admissions team is always just a phone call away. Whether you are interested in starting treatment now, or simply want to learn more about your options, we’re here to help.

For over 17 years, Julia Cassidy, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S has been working at the Center for Discovery where she is currently the director of nutrition and wellness for the adolescent programs. She developed the RD Manual and updated the nutrition programs which focus on using food exposure and response prevention and are used with all clients in the adolescent residential programs at Discovery. Julia is a certified eating disorder specialist supervisor, licensed body positive facilitator, is on the Special Interest Group Oversight Committee with the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) and is the chair-elect for Behavioral Health Nutrition (BHN), a dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Julia has presented both nationally and internationally on eating disorders, food exposure in the treatment of eating disorders and intuitive eating. Sharing her passion for nutrition, food, positive body image and eating disorder recovery, she currently oversees 20 dietitians nationwide. Julia is passionate about helping individuals heal their relationship with food and their body. Part of her work is teaching self-compassion and embracing the idea of total embodiment and food healing. 

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