FIU News interviewed Catherine Coccia, associate professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, to ask her some questions that many of you have been asking about eating healthy during this time.
“While we all dream of skipping the daily commute, being thrust into a work or study from home lifestyle is a huge shift for many of us and it’s all too easy to take comfort in snacking or making unhealthy meal choices,” said Catherine Coccia, associate professor in the department of Dietetics and Nutrition.
“With more and more people working from home and practicing self-distancing one issue I hear from my friends and colleagues is that they will gain weight. Between ‘isolation snacking’ and gyms closing this can be a legitimate concern,” Coccia says.
Is there a general rule of thumb to remember when planning meals?
“Remember that half your plate should be made of fruits and vegetables,” says Coccia. Healthy foods come in all types of packaging – canned, frozen and fresh.
What are some healthy snack options?
Coccia says popcorn is a great way to meet dietary requirements for whole grains. Dried fruits and nuts will keep us full longer and are great snack options.
“Apple slices or celery with peanut butter can be tasty, too,” she adds. “And both apples and celery stay fresh in the fridge for a long time.”
How can I stop from eating more?
“Before walking to the kitchen to grab a snack take a minute to reflect on your hunger,” Coccia says. “Are you actually hungry or do you just want to take a break from your work? Are you bored?”
What should I do if I overeat?
“This is a stressful time. Sometimes you might eat a little more than you normally would, or you might indulge in that extra cookie. It’s OK. Just do your best! We will all get through this together!”
How can I make eating more fun and still stay healthy?
As we are asked to stay home and refrain from the entertainment of eating out, Coccia recommends trying new dishes.
“Social distancing may provide you the perfect opportunity to refine your cooking skills allowing you to whip up a homemade (read less processed) meal from scratch! Try using the time to try out a new recipe you have been dying to try or perfecting an old one!”
She also recommends making mealtime quality time – either in person with those who you live with or virtually.
“Whether stress makes you feel like eating more or eating less, social distancing is impacting our lives and stressing many of us out. Take this as an opportunity to cook together with your family or even host a virtual dinner party to remain close to friends – so that you can make happy and healthy food memories!”