I’ve been hearing the phrase “it’s time to get back to normal” repeatedly for the last couple months. Normal – what an interesting concept! All nutrition professionals will tell you there is no “normal” when it comes to food – there are many great ways to nourish your body.
Were your normal food patterns disrupted during COVID? With less activities to do after school and work, many families ate together more often. Others viewed meals less as structured sit-down events, and more as an opportunity to graze. Some people went back to basics – investing their time and energy into baking bread, or making complicated and delicious recipes. Healthcare professionals and other essential workers spent more time at work, and less time at home, and food was whatever they could grab quickly. I’m here to tell you that all these approaches to food are fine. (Also, if you were one of those people that perfected sourdough bread, I volunteer to be a taster).
Often, nutrition advice looks downright puritanical (eat this, not that). I’m not here to give you that type of advice. I’m here to remind you to give yourself grace around food – you just lived through a pandemic, and whatever approach to food you took is an approach that kept you fed and kept you going.
Now that we’re returning to a more normal schedule, your food may change again. What does it look like to nourish your body now?
Feeling stressed about going back to the office or school?
Try to eat something every 2-3 hours. This eating pattern is calming to the nervous system and supports blood sugar regulation. Bonus points if you include some protein and/or fat with your snacks – think cheese and crackers, hummus and pita chips, or apple slices and peanut butter.
Calendar suddenly full with no time to cook?
Figure out where you DO have time. If you have time on the weekends, meal prep. If you have time in the mornings, consider using slow cooker recipes. Can’t manage to think about dinner until 15 minutes before dinner? Check out some sheet-pan and pressure cooker recipes that are designed for quick meals..
Have to get out the door in the a.m. with no food plan?
Start thinking about the great premade options out there. You can get premade oatmeal bowls (just add hot water), premade smoothies, and premade Bento boxes that are quick and delicious. And guess what – just because it is morning does not mean you need to eat breakfast food. Grab those leftovers from last night and reheat while you get ready.
As things begin to move toward “normal”, self-compassion and understanding will be crucial. It’s okay if food changed for you during this time. It is okay if food changes again. Work toward eating food that nourishes you, and leaves you feeling satisfied.
Meg Bowman MS CNS LDN Nutrition Hive