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Eating better through the pandemic

Holistic nutritionist Amy Sonnenberg offers up tips for eating better through the lockdown. [Damon Maclean]

As hard as some try, it’s not always easy to eat right and maintain a healthy diet. Life gets in the way, and sometimes the allure of that fast-food burger is overwhelming during a busy day, or a night out at the pub is just what you need when you’re trying to unwind after work. Of course, that was before the coronavirus pandemic upended normal life.

Being cooped up inside all day has added pressure to the already stressed lives of people who are now working from home and balancing that with taking care of the kids who are no longer in school. Because of the new normal, finding the time to cook may still be out of reach for some, and getting the chance to feed everyone a healthy meal can seem daunting. But just because we’re taking on so much extra during this time, it doesn’t mean that we can’t find the time to incorporate healthy eating into our lives.

Amy Sonnenberg, holistic nutritionist and owner of Designed for You Nutrition, says it’s easy to eat healthy, noting there are things that can be done to help us, even on a busy night. She says she works with clients to help them not only eat better but also manage their daily routines, so they aren’t always looking for that caffeine or fast-food fix.

One way she says things can be easier on people who may have a busy schedule is by ordering their groceries online. This not only allows them to take that time out of their schedules, but also limits interaction with other people during this time of physical distancing.

In her capacity as a nutritionist, she says she’s always looking for ways to make people’s live easier. It might be something as easy as groceries online so there’s one less thing to do on the weekend, or opting for a salad kit of veggie tray to make eating healthier that much easier, said Sonnenberg.

She says giving people recommendations without strategies to implement them would overwhelm people and essentially push people further from being able to stick to a healthier diet. She looks for sustainable strategies for each person and tailors the recommendations to their needs.

“It’s very different if somebody is sort of an aspiring cook and loves spending time in the kitchen, my recommendations (for them) might be a little bit different than the person who really dislikes being in the kitchen. It does take a really individual approach and so I try to make sure that whatever I recommend obviously is what I feel is the best practice,” said Sonnenberg.

During this time she says she has seen people’s eating habits changing. Some have made the decision to take up new hobbies like baking and making comfort food, while others have decided to make dietary changes to their lives. People have been connecting with her and asking about the changes they wish to make. In addition to that many people’s habits have made them more sedentary and they’re eating more because of boredom.

“With the warmer weather I’ve definitely seen a shift and more interest in people saying, ‘I want to eat a little healthier.’ I do think that the lockdown has had an impact on our diet. For some people it’s been great because they’ve got (the chance) to spend more time cooking, but for other people it’s been a lot of boredom eating so everyone’s different,” said Sonnenberg.

She says with all the extra time we have on our hands she doesn’t recommend making drastic changes to our diets. Just because there may be extra time, or you’ve been wanting to do it for a while, she doesn’t think people should be counting their calories or eliminating food groups from their daily meals. Unless there are medical reasons, it’s not good to make unnecessary changes to diet.

“I am of the mindset that sustainable strategies is where it’s at and now is a great time to start incorporating new healthier habits, but without that extreme kind of approach that sometimes we lean into,” she added.

She says don’t cut out the foods you enjoy that may be considered unhealthy, instead add in more healthy foods and your taste buds will appreciate the newer options. Keeping it simple does wonders for your diet and eating healthy does not have to be complicated.

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  1. While the pandemic is ravaging the world and lockdown imposed, one thing you can do best is to take care of yourselves. Focusing on healthy eating habits can do a lot of good for your health. Atleast we do not have to depend on store-bought canned food. Cooking at home is a healthier option.

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