Healthy eating

Due to the stay-at-home order in Springfield, restaurants are vacating, gyms are shutting their doors and grocery stores are being ransacked for toilet paper and canned goods. Being forced to work from home or finally having an excuse to lounge around all day watching Netflix may seem like a dream. But what about the boredom? The stress eating? The lack of public gyms that you claim to have visited weekly? With a fully stocked fridge and pantry only inches away from your couch, you may be facing the risk of putting on a few pounds. Here are a few ways to prevent the ‘Quarantine Fifteen.’

There may be an abundance of choices at the grocery store, so picking the nutritious food is essential.

“Many shelf-stable foods are healthy,” said Natalie Allen, clinical assistant professor at Missouri State University. “For example, dried beans, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, and canned meats such as tuna.”

Fresh foods like apples, oranges, cauliflower, potatoes and peppers will last longer if refrigerated properly, according to Allen.

Steven McRoberts, head athletics coach at MSU, finds that people tend to over-snack when they are bored, so he recommends only purchasing what your body needs to function.

“Plan out your meals for the week and purchase accordingly,” McRoberts said. “Frozen food can be great if it’s a quality product. Frozen food can also be a good way to know exactly how many calories you are intaking.”

According to McRoberts, green vegetables are missing from a majority of people’s diets, as well as protein; especially with athletes. 

“If healthy eating is new to you, I would suggest starting with simple steps,” Allen said. “Drink water with meals. Watch your portions. Add a fruit or vegetable to each meal and make sure there is a balance of carbs, protein, healthy fats.”

Keiona Woodard, freshman biology major, is taking the steps towards healthier eating now that the Foster Recreation Center is no longer open. 

“I really have to focus on my diet to maintain a healthy weight now,” Woodard said. “I’ve transitioned into more fruits and veggies, as well as unsweetened versions of my favorite snacks like applesauce. I’ve also shifted to smaller portions and look for stuff with a lot of protein like peanuts.”

Woodard is also paying closer attention to the nutrition labels on her usual frozen meals.

“I used to eat a lot of ‘Hungry-Man’ until I realized the sodium content and larger portion size,” Woodard said. “Now I avoid those and go for brands like ‘Smart Ones’ instead.” 

Healthy eating doesn’t need to break the bank and healthy habits can be implemented without taking up a large sum of time.

“Generally, healthy foods are not more expensive, but they may take more time to prepare,” Allen said. “Brown rice, whole grain pasta, and dried beans are all inexpensive and good for you, but take longer to cook than the refined versions. But, it doesn't take any time to peel a banana.  Eating healthy is easy and doable for most people.”

As a nod to quick and healthy meals, Allen suggests a quick stir-fry, adding veggies to pasta or making scrambled egg quesadillas.

“During this time of change and uncertainty, it’s okay to enjoy some comfort foods too,” Allen said.  “Make your grandma's favorite recipe, then call her and tell her about it. And, don't forget to stash some chocolate for emergencies. All foods can fit, it is all about balance, variety and moderation.”

As far as workouts go while social distancing, utilizing internet videos and doing your research is key.

“It’s important to research what workouts to do for each body part and how to prepare,” Woodard said. “I spend every other day doing variations of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, bicep curls and planks. Basically, I try to take what I did at the Foster Rec Center and apply it to what I can do at home, without all the machines.”

Allen stresses the importance of a good diet and exercise routine synonymously.

“The two go hand in hand,” Allen said. “In these challenging times, exercise and nutrition routines may change, but there are still ways to be active.”