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We are in a new normal. Now that we are all doing our best to stay home and limit how often we visit the grocery store, you may be finding that your eating and exercise routine has changed. Since we are a few weeks into our new normal, it’s a good time to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.

Baking and Cooking at Home

You may be seeing many people on social media taking comfort in baking bread, muffins, quick breads, cakes and cookies, and experimenting with new dinner recipes. With more people at home, some are embracing the opportunity to experiment with more baking and cooking. ⁣These are fantastic skills to hone and continue!

Baking and cooking skills can:⁣ Save you money⁣ Save calories ⁣ Reduce the saturated fat, sodium, and sugar in your diet ⁣ Share on X

Now, if you still aren’t into cooking, that’s okay! I’m sure many people are going to be so excited to get back to going to their favorite restaurants. In the meantime, it’s still a great opportunity to practice some basic kitchen skills. Finding some simple go-to recipes for homemade meals and baked goods that will generally be lower in calories, fat and sodium (all nutrients that most of us need less of) is a good step toward health maintenance.

Less Sodium, Less Sugar, Smaller Portions

When it comes to homemade baked goods, you can create treats that are higher in fiber (use whole wheat flour or oats) and nutrients (fresh blueberries, bananas, nuts) compared to the bakery or store-bought version. Many bakery muffins these days are more like cake, and less like a  quickbread – which is what they are meant to be. You can also reduce the sodium and sugar in some recipes.  Overall, many homemade baked goods are lower in sugar than their store-bought counterpart.⁣ Portions are generally better controlled too. You may notice that the muffin tin you have at home creates smaller muffins than the modern bakery versions. And of course, at home, you can put 75% less icing on your cupcakes!

Create your own bakery with a pretty dish on the counter. These mini croissants are the perfect portion.

Focus on Habits – Write it Down

This is a stressful time for all of us. Both physical and emotional health are important right now as we navigate life during a pandemic. Do focus on stress reduction and include nutritious, simple foods into your daily meal plan.

It’s not a bad idea to take a few minutes a day to be mindful. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Set aside a few minutes each day for a deep breathing exercise, meditation or prayer. Exercise can also help with stress, and physically, it keeps your body healthier. Take some time in the morning to think about healthy, simple meals you can enjoy for the day.

If you are concerned about gaining weight during this time, consider taking a moment to create a strategy.

  • Keep a food journal. Use paper or an app like MyFitnessPal or Noom®. ⁣
  • Since you’ll want your provisions to last, keep portions small and reasonable.
  • Use a  fitness tracker to help you stay motivated to move.
  • If you are sitting more and moving less, and eating more often – hop on the scale and check in. If this adds more stress to your day – then skip it and focus on preparing simple healthy meals and snacks.
  • Don’t judge yourself, just think about whether you are eating appropriately for the current activity you’re getting.

The basic goal right now – to eat well and include light exercise 30 minutes a day. Throw away strict food rules that really have no medical necessity and just make you feel bad.  Stay calm. Stay healthy.