Many people have had their normal routines disrupted by guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Business shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and limits on non-coronavirus medical visits, like plastic surgery, have created a new normal for most Americans.
However, you can maintain your health during the pandemic. In fact, the coronavirus pandemic might be a good way to change some bad habits and replace them with better ones.
Here are ten things you can do at home during the pandemic to stay healthy:
Eat Out Less
Everyone wants to support local restaurants and cafes. However, reducing how frequently you eat out can be one of the most valuable healthy eating tips for adults. Cooking at home has many benefits over eating out including:
- Less expensive: The average cost of a commercially prepared meal is $13 per person. The average cost of groceries is about $4 per person per meal. Saving $9 per person per meal can save you a lot of unhealthy financial stress.
- Greater control: When you cook at home you can control the amount of salt, sugar, and fat that goes into your food. Salt is tied to hypertension, fat is linked to heart disease, and sugar can lead to diabetes. And if you have food allergies, cooking at home may save your life.
- Freshness: Cooking at home allows you to choose the freshest ingredients, whether you are cooking vegetables, meat, or fish. Many nutrients diminish as the food ages. For example, oranges and spinach may lose as much as 30% of their nutrients three days after harvest.
Cooking at home requires a bit more meal planning than eating out. However, if you are trying to reduce the number of grocery store visits to minimize your exposure to coronavirus, planning a week’s worth of meals and shopping once can make cooking at home as easy as ordering out.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
When you are rushing out the door to get to work, you may have a tendency to skip breakfast. In fact, a Food Insight survey showed that 44% of Americans eat breakfast every day even though over 90% of those surveyed believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, when you are working from home, you have no excuse to skip breakfast.
Scientific evidence on the ideal breakfast if fairly clear. While many people were raised on breakfasts heavy on carbohydrates like breakfast cereal, toast, and pancakes, complex carbs can increase your blood sugar levels and lead to a “carb crash” later in the day when the carbs burn off and you feel tired. Eating a balanced breakfast is one of the most important healthy eating tips for adults. A balanced breakfast includes protein and carbs to fill you up and fuel your body without creating a carbohydrate rush.
For example, a typical fruit smoothie with a fruit high in carbohydrates blended with yogurt and soy milk, both high in protein, can give you a balanced breakfast that keeps you full and provides the energy you need to get through the morning. Adding maqui berries gives you a boost of antioxidants that can help your body fight off free radicals and keep you feeling healthy.
Another quick and easy breakfast is an egg sandwich. The bread provides carbs while the egg (more specifically, the egg yolk) provides fat and protein. This is a good combination to provide a balanced breakfast.
Bodyweight is a severe problem in the U.S. Over one-third of American adults are obese and about another third of American adults are overweight. Being obese or overweight increases the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and some forms of cancer. Moreover, obese and overweight people have a higher risk of suffering from severe respiratory problems from COVID-19.
American food is delicious. However, Americans are known for oversize portions. For example, over the past 20 years, the average hamburger has increased in size by nearly 25%. The extra calories and fat in an oversized hamburger can have a major impact on your waistline.
An American woman of average height needs about 2,000 calories per day and an American man of average height needs about 2,500 calories per day. Staying at home during the pandemic is a good time to learn how to portion food to meet a healthy diet as well as adjusting to more reasonable portion sizes. Controlling portion sizes can be one of the essential healthy eating tips for adults.
Gyms are closed. However, gyms are not essential good health, particularly when an enclosed gym could create a major vector for coronavirus transmission. Rather, almost every medical weight loss program focuses on exercise, not gym time.
In addition to following healthy eating tips for adults, exercise is critical to good health. Exercise, such as a walk around the neighborhood, a bike ride in the park, or chair calisthenics, has many benefits including:
- Weight control: Burning all the calories that you consume will prevent weight gain. Burning more calories than you consume will result in weight loss.
- Strengthen the heart and lungs: Aerobic exercise works out the cardiovascular system and improves its strength and capacity.
- Lower blood pressure: Reducing blood pressure can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Increased endurance: After you adopt an exercise program, it will become easier for you to complete your daily workout.
- Improved mood: Physical activity releases hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters like serotonin. These brain chemicals can lift your mood and reduce the risk of depression.
Take Care of Your Gut
Your digestive system is a complex set of organs, chemicals, and bacteria. The good bacteria in your digestive system help your intestines to break down food and release the nutrients for your body to use. Moreover, keeping good bacteria healthy can limit the number of bad bacteria that cause disease. Gastrointestinal doctors recommend a few ways to maintain a healthy gut:
- Maintain a healthy diet: Following some of the basic healthy eating tips for adults not only keeps your weight down and your body healthy, but it can also help support your gut flora. Cutting down on sugars, artificial sweeteners, and fat can help your flora thrive, and eating fruits and vegetables can ensure you have a varied population of good bacteria.
- Eat bacteria-friendly foods: Fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, and miso are rich in good bacteria. These can replenish the good bacteria in your digestive system.
- Increase your fiber intake: Fiber is not digested. Rather, it cleans out the digestive system by scrubbing out the intestines, absorbing bile and cholesterol from the digestive system, and providing food for the good bacteria.
You can also cut down on alcohol, which is generally harmful to gut bacteria. However, the polyphenols in red wine may actually benefit the bacteria in your intestines if consumed in moderation.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is broader than just brushing your teeth. You need to floss your teeth, cut down on sugars, and keep your regularly scheduled checkups with your dentist.
Unlike the good bacteria in your gut, the bad bacteria in your mouth are responsible for dental caries, the technical term for cavities. When you eat candy or drink soda, the sugars coat your teeth. The bad bacteria in your mouth eat the sugars and multiply.
As the bacteria multiply, they form colonies. These colonies are supported by plaque, the sticky, smelly film that coats your teeth. Plaque is, in essence, the infrastructure of a bacterial colony in your mouth.
The problem the bad bacteria is that as they eat sugars, they produce acid. This acid gets trapped on your teeth by the plaque and eats away at the enamel. After a period of time, this acid creates holes in your tooth enamel called cavities.
The best way to prevent cavities is to brush and floss your teeth to remove the plaque. After cleaning, the bacteria have no way to stick to the teeth until they can rebuild the colony and produce more plaque.
Dental health is also supported by basic healthy eating tips for adults. Cutting down on sugars deprives the bacteria of the food they need to produce acids. And eating a balanced diet with calcium and vitamin D can strengthen teeth by aiding in calcification, the process by which teeth absorb calcium.
Protecting your teeth can do more than just prevent cavities. Dental health is good for your general health. A dental problem that evolves into an abscess not only jeopardizes your teeth, gums, and jaw but can infect the blood, causing problems throughout the body.
Keep Up With Preventative Checkups
Whether it is a visit to your dentist, your primary care physician, or your OB/GYN, preventative medicine is often the best way to maintain your health and identify a problem early on.
There is some concern by both patients and physicians that patients will avoid visiting a doctor for checkups during the pandemic due to fears of contracting COVID-19. This fear is justified since the doctor’s office or dentist’s office is one of the few places that you might have to remove your mask and come into close contact with someone. Moreover, most people are aware of the risk of transmission of coronavirus from patient to patient or even doctor to patient.
However, in some ways, a doctor’s office might be one of the safest places to receive medical treatment during the pandemic for a few reasons:
- Coronavirus referrals: When a patient complains of coronavirus symptoms, they are usually referred to a local hospital rather than being scheduled for an office visit. This means that doctor’s offices usually have little to no exposure to coronavirus.
- Screening: When patients schedule an appointment, the intake staff usually screens for coronavirus symptoms and risk factors for coronavirus, such as recent travel. Anyone at risk for coronavirus is usually asked to delay their appointment.
- Cleaning: Because of the risk of disease transmission, not just from coronavirus but from influenza and other infectious diseases, doctor’s offices follow rigorous cleaning regimens that minimize the risk of disease transmission
During annual checkups, a doctor or dentist can not only identify problems but can also give preventative medical advice. From exercise tips to healthy eating tips for adults, doctors and dentists can minimize the likelihood that you will see them in emergency circumstances.
Maintain Your Social Connection
Social connections are important to mental health. Socializing boosts mood for everyone, including introverts. No one is entirely sure why, but some theories point to the role of talking in stress relief. Under this theory, people unburden themselves from their anxieties and problems by talking through them, even if there is no practical solution to them. Just the act of externalizing them relieves some of the stress.
Just as important as stress relief is the role of socializing in maintaining social connections with friends and family. While the pandemic prevents you from getting a craft beer from your local brewpub and catching up with old friends, you can still chat over video conferencing applications to debate healthy eating tips for adults or which team would have won the NBA championship in 2020.
Smoking is one of the most dangerous habits a person can have. About 480,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses every year. Smoking contributes to heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.
However, the damage is not permanent. Aside from following healthy eating tips for adults to avoid obesity, quitting smoking can have one of the greatest impacts on your lifespan. If you quit smoking before the age of 35, you might avoid a smoking-related illness and if you quit smoking between the ages of 35 and 50, you might add up to ten years to your life. Moreover, the earlier you quit, the more years you add to your life.
Address Longstanding Problems
Being confined to home can feel like you are wasting your time. Moreover, stresses like losing your job, being unable to socialize, and fears about contracting coronavirus can increase the restlessness about being at home.
However, you can also look at the positives of being able to focus without distractions. This can help you resolve longstanding problems. Losing weight, for example, might be possible when you are confined at home and able to focus on healthy eating tips for adults without the distraction of work or school.
Similarly, addiction recovery might be possible when you are able to devote time and attention to your addiction issue. For those who find 12-step programs to be effective, many programs have shifted to online meetings. Moreover, streaming video sites have many pre-recorded videos of addiction recovery videos available online.
And, if doing it on your own seems too difficult, now might be a good time to check into an in-patient addiction recovery facility. For example, if you have been furloughed, you may be able to spend some time at an in-patient facility without missing time from work.
During the coronavirus pandemic, it can be difficult to stay healthy. Being at home, surrounded by distractions, and under nagging stress, can give you an excuse to stop exercising, drink too much, smoke too much, and ignore even basic healthy eating tips for adults. Remaining focused on your health may not only carry you through the pandemic but may help you become a healthier and happier person on the other side.