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Self-isolation issues: 4 common healthy-eating challenges and how to solve them

Click to play video: 'Common eating issues during the COVID-19 pandemic' Common eating issues during the COVID-19 pandemic
Registered dietitian Andrea Holwegner joins Global News Morning live via Skype to discuss strategies to help resolve some common eating issues that may have surfaced during the COVID-19 outbreak. – Apr 13, 2020

When your lifestyle changes in a drastic way it’s reasonable to expect that your eating habits may change, too.

Sometimes those changes are for the better, but when that lifestyle change sees you staying home due to a pandemic, there’s a chance those changes are going to be for the worse.

READ MORE: How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting food security in Canada

Registered dietician Andrea Holwegner from Health Stand Nutrition Consulting is now meeting with her clients virtually instead of in-person and said many of them are experiencing similar struggles with healthy eating.

She joined Global News Morning Calgary on Monday to discuss how you can cope with four common food-related challenges you may be facing amid COVID-19.

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You’re home all day with your refrigerator and pantry

Millions of Canadians who used to head to work in an office are now working from home, giving them easy access to a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry.

Holwegner warned this leads to people eating more meals and snacks that aren’t nutritionally balanced.

“What we’re seeing with people is grazing all day and maybe not [having the] ability to know if you’re hungry or full,” she said.

Solve this by making sure you still have set meal times instead of heading back and forth to the pantry all day, Holwegner said.

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She said another approach is to be more mindful of how frequently you’re eating by timing it out, focusing on giving yourself three to five hours between snacks and meals.

You’re eating your feelings 

As Canadians practise physical distancing and avoid unnecessary outings, they can find themselves stuck at home with feelings of stress, sadness, boredom or anxiety.

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Holwegner warned some people may be trying to cope with these emotions by eating.

READ MORE: Snacking more? COVID-19 and emotional eating

“Emotional eating is something we all do,” Holwegner said. “We’ve all eaten for comfort before.”

Holwegner suggests one way to solve this is to put effort into planning your meals ahead of time to make sure what you’re eating is nutritionally balanced and not just food you’re craving.

You’re not hungry or don’t find many foods appealing 

While for some, heightened feelings of stress and anxiety may cause them to overindulge when snacking or eating a meal, for others the emotions may make them lose their appetite.

Holwegner explained that right now some people aren’t finding food appealing, or aren’t consuming enough calories.

“What we really want to do is make sure we’ve got those balanced meals and we’re eating every three to five hours,” she said.

She suggested having structure in your day around planned meal times to ease the emotional issues that spark a loss of appetite.

Boredom baking has increased your sweet tooth

Have you noticed an overwhelming number of pictures featuring freshly baked treats flooding your social media accounts?

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Holwegner said with more people staying at home for longer periods of time, there’s seemingly been a boom in people using their spare time to bake.

While it’s nice to eat some fresh-out-of-the-oven treats, she warns it could lead to increased cravings for sweets for you and your kids.

“What I’m going to encourage you to do is not just teach your kids how to make brownies and cookies and all of those wonderful comfort foods, but I want you to teach them the fundamentals of some of the most important skills they need — from a life perspective — about what to eat for supper.”

Holwegner suggests using your spare time not just to bake, but to try new and nutritious recipes — or try to recreate family favourites like macaroni and cheese from scratch instead of from a box.

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