Stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 restrictions have meant that many of us are spending majority of our time within our homes. For many people, this means balancing multiple demands – including caring for family members, working from home, and cooking at home. With the pantry within easy reach, and the normal life routine thrown out the window, it can be a challenge to maintain healthy habits.

Eating healthy might look slightly different during lockdown, but you’re not alone. A little planning and the right tools can go a long way. At the end of the day, it’s all about doing the best you can – and Nutrition Australia NSW is here to support you

1. Cut up fruit and veggies ahead of time and store in airtight containers in the fridge

Whether you are having fruits or vegetables on its own or to be mixed with other ingredients, prepping (wash, dry and peel) in advance can save you time. Fruits and vegetables can last up 4 days in an airtight container covered with a damp towel and stored in the fridge. This can make it super quick and easy when you’re on your work break.

Containers may look something like:

  • Container of mixed fruits such as strawberries, berries, and watermelon ready to add your smoothies or toppings for yogurts, overnight oats, porridge, cereals.
  • Container of cut up green beans, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, capsicum, cauliflower ready to add to stir fries, pizza toppings, soups, scrambled eggs/omelette or have as a side.
  • A container of cut up sweet potatoes and potatoes ready for a roast in the oven.
  • Let’s not forget canned vegetables such as beans, corn, beetroots, lentils, tomatoes, and chickpeas ready for salads or cooking sauces.

2. You can (and should) meal prep snacks too

Planning your snacks reduces your likelihood to binge at a later point. Keep snacks healthy, fresh, and colourful and easy to access for when you feel like a small bite at the desk. Be prepared and create 3-5 days’ worth of small treats and snacks that are ready to go.

Some snacks include:

  • Cut up carrots and cucumbers with dip
  • Wholemeal wrap with hummus
  • Homemade banana and zucchini muffins
  • Trail of mixed seeds, nuts and berries 

3. Aim for well-balanced meals

Balanced and nutritious foods make you more focused, productive, and fuller so you can better manage the challenges of the day. What you eat will impact your performance, mood, and energy. Opt for a balance of protein, healthy fats, fibre and fruits and vegetables in lunches.

Round out meals by adding more vegetables or protein variety. Some ideas include:

  • Pasta sauce with peas, corn, chicken, and mushrooms
  • Lasagne mix with carrot, broccoli, eggplant, mincemeat, and shredded zucchini
  • Pizza topping with spinach/rocket, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, pumpkin, eggplant, and chicken
  • Beef and vegetable meatballs with carrot, zucchini, onion
  • Spinach, mushroom, avocado added to eggs/omelette

4. Keep up with mealtimes and planning

Even though your workday schedule may be a little out of whack, think about planning meals no more than 3-4 hours apart. Plan for breaks and lunch around the same time every day.  Your body gets used to regular mealtimes and this will minimise eating out of boredom and snacking. Set a reminder on your devices and ensure everyone at work knows you’re on break.

Need help planning ahead? Check out the Online Menu Planner from Healthy Eating Active Living NSW – there are a range of recipes and combinations available to help you plan out the day and week.

5. Take breaks from your work desk to eat more mindfully

Set a time to eat away from your work, try sitting in a different room or outdoors.  Avoid eating in front of the computer or phone. Use your “break time” to truly have a break and take the time to enjoy your food and be present in the moment. If you snack or eat out of boredom, ask yourself “am I actually physically hungry?”. Keep snacks away from your work area as seeing food can trigger cravings. Mindless snacking while we work normally leaves us unsatisfied and hungrier.

Working from home may be temporary or more long-term but take one day at a time and make the best choices for you.

Finding it a challenge to maintain healthy eating habits during COVID-19 restrictions? Nutrition Australia NSW is offering live virtual fortnightly cooking workshops on Fridays at 12 noon, completely free. Join us for tips, recipe ideas and strategies for creating healthy food routines at home!

For more information on health eating from Healthy Eating, Active Living during COVID-19 please click here.

Nutrition Australia NSW is proudly supported by NSW Health.