Practicing social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19 has left many of us staring at our pantries, wondering what to make—especially if you, like many Americans, rely on take-out or delivery for most of your meals. However, being “stuck” at home without the option to dine out is a great opportunity to start (or continue!) eating healthy.
Maintaining a healthy diet is particularly important now, as healthy eating promotes better immune function, but it also has external benefits. Cooking for yourself means you can keep track of exactly what you’re eating, and—even with limited ingredients or experience—eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, overwhelming, or boring. And it doesn’t have to be something you do only because you’re at home. Read on for our favorite tips on how to eat healthy food every day.
Healthy Eating Tips
Eat Balanced Meals with Proper Serving Sizes
Portion control can be especially difficult when faced with making a meal from scratch. Being stuck at home with limited activities also makes it easy to indulge in overeating and mindless snacking. If you want to start eating healthy, make sure you’re consuming the right amount of immunity-boosting nutrients (from foods found on Atkins acceptable foods list). Each day aim for:
- Three 4- to 6-ounce servings of protein such as salmon, chicken, beef, and eggs.
- Two to four servings of added, healthy fats. These can come from sources like butter, olive oil, nuts, and fish.
- At least six servings of nutrient-dense, high-fiber foundation vegetables. This is equivalent to several cups, depending on the net carb content of the veggie you select. One cup is roughly the size of a baseball.
Count Carbs, Not Calories
Some “healthy” diets focus on cutting calories, but are still high in carbohydrates and sugar, which can leave you feeling drained and deprived. In these uncertain times, you deserve to feel your best. A low carb diet (like Atkins) limits carbohydrates in favor of protein, high- fiber carbohydrates, and healthy fats, which help you feel fuller and more energized.
Start eating healthy by filling your plate and your pantry with nutrient-dense foods, like lean protein, colorful vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Compare Atkins plans or take the quiz to figure out how many net carbs you should be consuming each day.
Avoid Hidden Sugars
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean ignoring your cravings! While processed, packaged and otherwise refined foods contain empty carbs—or hidden sugars—that can cause continuous cycles of blood sugar highs and lows, there’s plenty of room to satisfy your sweet tooth in Atkins plans.
Now’s the perfect time to try your hand at making some low carb desserts at home. Or, if you’re looking for something quick and easy, try a piece of fruit or dark chocolate. And, if there’s a particular packaged snack craving you just can’t kick, reach for Atkins Endulge treats, for that same flavor—without the guilt.
Drink Plenty of Water
Good hydration is an important part of good health, and can help you stay on track by limiting mindless snacking—especially while working from home or relaxing on the couch. Drinking water instead of sugary beverages is a simple way to limit your intake of excess carbs and calories. Avoid drinking large amounts of caffeinated and/or energy drinks, which can lead to dehydration and can negatively impact your sleep—which is also important to staying healthy!
How to Make Healthy Food & Home Cooking Tips
With a little planning, you and your family can eat healthy for weeks. Just remember to keep all of our healthy tips in mind when preparing a meal or reaching for a snack. Fill most of your plate with nutrient-rich veggies, then add healthy protein and fats. Download an example meal plan and shopping list to get you started. Need to shake things up? Our database has 1,000+ recipe ideas to choose from!
Plan and Prep Your Meals
Limiting your trips to the grocery store is an important part of social distancing. So, before heading to the store, take stock of what is already in your pantry and plan a few weeks of healthy meals and snacks. Consider buying enough ingredients to make extra servings of your favorite recipes to store in the freezer. Preparing large batches of freezer-friendly foods like marinara sauce or meatballs can help round out your pantry items.
Healthy items to stay stocked up on include:
- Protein sources like eggs, which last a long time in the fridge, and canned fish. Beans, chickpeas, lentils are also great sources of protein and fiber and can be used for a variety of recipes from soups to salads.
- Canned tomatoes and sauce
- Frozen vegetables and fruits. If you must choose canned, look for fruit that is canned in its own juice, not syrup.
- Whole grains including oats, brown rice, quinoa, and low-carb pasta alternatives.
- Healthy fats like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, seeds, nuts, and nut butters.
- Add flavor and seasoning using spices (think bold flavors like cumin, black pepper, chili powder, and curry) and dried herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme.
- High-energy snack items such as nuts, protein bars, or protein shakes.
Cook at Home More Often
Maintaining a healthy diet is a lot easier when you cook for yourself at home, because it eliminates the guesswork of making healthy choices. You won’t be tempted by foods with hidden carbs, you can control your portion size, and you will know exactly which ingredients are going into everything you eat.
When cooking from your social distancing stash, be strategic about your use of ingredients, and prioritize fresh products and those with a shorter shelf-life first. Use cooking methods such as baking, steaming, or sautéing instead of frying.
You don’t have to be a five-star chef to cook at home. Learning some basic cooking principles will make cooking at home easy. Experiment with making healthy ingredient swaps in your favorite meals—like whole grains instead of refined; or healthy fats like olive oil instead of vegetable oil—or bust out that recipe you’ve been meaning to try, but never got around to.
Get the support you need for all your healthy eating and home cooking adventures with our free tools. Download the app or sign in online to set goals, log meals, track net carbs, and connect with our Atkins community.