Living in a pandemic is hard. There is no easy way around it. No matter where you find yourself and what your reasons are, this is hard.
Sure we have plenty of things to be grateful for. There are many life lessons we can draw from this time – the opportunity to slow down, to connect with long lost friends and family over the phone and a chance to perhaps linger over a meal rather than rushing out of the door. Those things are all beautiful benefits but they also come with a cost.
For some of us, we are living our best life. There is plenty of time to read, reflect and connect with our immediate family in a way that has been difficult to do in our pre-COVID paced life. We are working from home and are grateful for the opportunity to do so. We are visiting old hobbies and learning new ones too. We aren’t worried about getting sick because we are pretty confident we would get better quickly.
And then there are others of us. We are concerned about our own health and that of our family. We are having to leave home to work long hours in conditions that leave us feeling uneasy. When we get home, we are trying to support our kid’s distance learning and still offer care to our extended family loved by taking care of their essential needs.
I think most of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle. Some days are great and some days are hard. Some days feel footloose and fancy-free and some days leave us feeling imprisoned in our own homes.
As we manoeuvre these big feelings together, I want to ask you a few questions. These questions will help me to know how I can be of best service to you. While I can’t help you in each area of struggle, I do know food. I know which foods to eat to help you feel your best. I know which foods to prepare that are nutritious, delicious and quick to prepare. This leads me to my big ask.
What are the challenges you are facing in trying to feed your family?
What would help you resolve these issues?
How can I help YOU?
I’m working on bringing content that matters to you. I want to make feeding yourself and your family easier for you. If you could take a moment and share with me your thoughts on your nutrition struggles, I would be ever so grateful. And, chances are you aren’t the only one struggling with that particular issue. Let’s start talking, so we can keep helping each other.
Hold the course, we’ve got this!
We all have our favourite pair of lounge pants that feel like home. They are soft and cozy and non-judgemental. The thing is, those comfy pants can get us into trouble whether it is over the holidays, or as in this case during a pandemic.
I think for many of us, instead of getting dressed into our regular clothes, those lounge pants…or pyjama pants for that matter, have started taking over our daily clothing choices. Am I right? We soon forget that we even own anything without an elastic waistband. While it may feel marvellous at the moment, it likely isn’t a good long term strategy.
Next thing we know, and believe me I am looking forward to that day, we are back to our ‘new’ normal routine, only to find that our pants have all ‘shrunk.’
Now is not the time to take on a strict diet. I would actually offer up that rarely is it the time to take up a strict diet with the exception of health conditions that may require swift & significant changes to your daily diet. However, it also not the time to completely throw caution to the wind either.
If you spend more than 2 minutes on social media, you will notice that baking has become one of our favourite past times on a global scale. I’ve seen everything from decadent brownies, white fluffy bread and cakes that look like they are right out of a magazine. There is something comforting and grounding about baking. I get it. The smell of apple pie brings warmth to my very soul. But here is the thing…we need to be able to find comfort in other things right now than eating our troubles away.
Here are a few thoughts to consider…
- By all means, enjoy the process of baking if it brings you joy, but be mindful about making it a weekly event instead of a daily one. Also, look for recipes that use wholesome ingredients and minimal refined sugars. One of my favourite recipes is my Maple Granola Bar. It is loaded with whole grains, seeds and uses maple syrup as a sweetener.
- The weather is changing and it is finally starting to get warmer in my part of the world. Now is a great time to begin incorporating lighter foods to your menu – smoothies, salads and grilled veggies are great places to start.
- Get dressed. Let’s enjoy those comfy pants, but also be mindful not to let waistband eating take over our lives. Putting on regular clothes & maybe even doing my hair, inspires me to be productive and helps me to find more purpose in my daily activities.
- Find comfort in other activities besides eating or drinking your troubles away. Go for a walk, listen to an uplifting podcast, call a friend, take a bath or watch something funny. My new family favourite show is John Krasinski’s Some Good News
If you are finding that you are having a tough time with emotional eating, I am here to help. I continue to offer virtual sessions to help you keep healthy eating and self-care a priority. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you peace, calm and slices of joy, today and everyday!
For many, working from home has come into full effect this past month. Here is the big question though. How do you make working from home, work?
First of all, we let’s all take a deep breath. Working from home is a whole new ball game from working in the office on a regular day. Working from home during a pandemic is also an added challenge to say the least. Take a moment and acknowledge that you don’t need to do all the things, all the time and with perfection. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting up, brushing your teeth and even taking the time to read this.
If you are a parent with kids at home, you have some new co-workers that also require you to adjust your expectations. Family first is my motto. Sometimes it isn’t easy when timelines are pressing, but when all is said and done and I look back on my kid’s upbringing, I won’t be thinking how glad I am that I got that assignment in early at the expense of not giving my kids what they needed.
That being said, work does still need to get done. The kids have school work and we have our job commitments. How can we manage all of it and come out on the other side happier & healthier?
Please join me as I share with you some of the things that I am finding helpful. I fully acknowledge that everyone’s circumstance is different. I feel very fortunate to be able to work from home and also have a husband who can do the same. The ability to trade-off responsibility is a huge benefit in the working from home game. There are plenty of you who don’t have that luxury and please know I am only trying to offer support while understanding that the view from my lens may not look like yours.
Get Up Early
I am finding that I get my best work accomplished in the morning. It is even better when it is before the kids get up. My kids have been sleeping in until around 8ish. I like to get up just after 6 and enjoy the peace and quiet of a still house. Disclaimer: I did not get up early today because quite frankly I needed more sleep. Most days I do, but today I needed that extra shut-eye, which leads me to my next point…
I am a woman of routine. I value knowing what is coming next and planning my day. I’ve found that my children also function best with routine in place…even though they would deny it if asked. We’ve structured our day to have two separate work periods of time. Knowing that we work hard and focused followed by a break is motivating. That being said, flexibility is paramount. Be willing to negotiate with yourself and your family in terms of daily routines is key to making this whole thing work.
I’ve been working from home part-time for thirteen years. During that time, I also completed my nutrition schooling through distance education. I quickly learned that I didn’t accomplish quite as much work-wise if I also tried to do a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, check FaceBook or Instagram or organize the front hall closet. Once I began practicing nutrition, I needed to consider when I wanted to be available to answer emails and phone calls. I decided to keep this to set hours. Just because I have access to my email 24/7 doesn’t mean that I should be responding to it. Let work time be work time and home time be home time.
Make a List
I work best when I focus for a period of time and just get the work done. I have always been a great procrastinator. I seem to work well under pressure which is kind of a negative reward cycle. I don’t like procrastinating, I just seem to be really good at it. This has taken some effort on my part to actively workaround. My daily calendar is helpful for this. When I jot my to-do list down, I get so much more accomplished. Make sure you keep your daily expectations in check by looking at your list and asking yourself if you would ask your best friend to do it for you. If the answer is no, edit until you could ask someone else to do it for you without any guilt.
You’ve Got This!
Some days are going to be rough. If we can acknowledge this and be kind to ourselves when those days come along, we will also be in a better space to celebrate the good days. We are in this together. I heard someone else use this analogy and I thought it was beautiful. We are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. Some of us may feel like we are in a luxury yacht at times and then in a sinking boat bailing water, maybe even in the same day. My point here is to be compassionate with your self first and foremost and let that compassion spill out to your children, your partner, your neighbours, your co-workers and the people you meet in the grocery store.
Easter is just around the corner. But just how does one begin to celebrate a holiday in the middle of a pandemic? Even the idea of that sounds ludicrous at first. While I do want to be mindful of the obvious struggles we are facing – financial stress, health concerns for ourselves and loved ones as well as an overall sense of uncertainty, I would suggest that we should do it up right!
While it might not be possible to purchase all the Easter baskets fixings that we might under normal circumstances, I don’t think our kids really will mind. What I am proposing is that we celebrate hope and new life and we practice gratitude for the things we do have. For those who celebrate Easter from a spiritual lens, Easter has always represented new beginnings and hope for tomorrow. Now more than ever, we need to be reminded that this storm too shall pass.
So here is what I propose for this Easter. While it certainly feels very different this year with physical distancing in place, that doesn’t mean we have to be socially isolated from one another. While I am 100% in agreement with giving each other physical space while we dampen COVID-19’s effect on our population, now more than ever we need to feel socially connected. But just how do we go about doing that?
We intend on getting social online through video chatting. While it can get a little chaotic while trying to talk to one another over a video feed, I think it actually mimics most of our large family gatherings quite well. In our case, we have decided to give our video chat a little bit of a game show feel. We will be giving everyone challenges to complete and perform as a family unit while the rest of us watch. There will bad singing, some goofy costumes and good belly laughs a plenty.
Here’s a list to get you started:
- interpretive dance for 15 seconds
- make up a song with the following words: chocolate, springtime & aardvark
- sing or say the alphabet backwards
- act out a job you don’t like doing in the spring
- pretend to be a bee and go around pollinating flowers
- tell a story about the time the Easter bunny got his tail stuck in his car door
- create an air band with your family to perform, ‘Singing In the Rain,’ or ‘Stayin’ Alive’
- re-create the image that is being sent by email – i.e. an old family photo, a scene from a movie, etc
I can’t give away all of our ideas because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for our family but the options are endless. Add your own suggestions to the list and get ready for some good memories. This Easter will be unlike any you’ve experienced so far, and I would suggest that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing!
If you don’t have the ability to use video chatting, the regular old phone works really well for feeling connected. Whatever you do, just reach out to someone and share some hope for tomorrow.
Wishing you and your loved ones peace and good health!
I think we can all agree that we find ourselves in unprecedented times. While fear and anxiety are heightened among many, my goal here is to give you strategies to help you eat well and reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 while gathering supplies. My intention is to leave you feeling empowered to support your health and that of your loved ones. One of the best things we can do right now, aside from physical distancing, is to take care of ourselves well. Eating nutrient-dense food, daily movement, good quality sleep, laughter and social interaction is paramount in helping to keep our immune systems in peak condition. Currently, being physically social with those outside of our homes is risky and not recommended, however, social interaction is still incredibly important. Make good use of technology – the old fashioned phone call & video chatting go a long way to helping us feel more connected. Having said all that, let’s talk shopping, shall we?
Menu Planning & Detailed Grocery List
- try to create a menu & list that can last you for 2 weeks – menu plan with the idea of eating your most perishable items first
- purchase longer lasting perishables such as onions, garlic, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, oranges, lemons, lime
- make use of frozen produce to get you through the second week
- add a few extra staple items like canned beans, stewed tomatoes, whole grain pasta & pasta sauce, canned tuna & salmon, dried beans & lentils & canned coconut milk. Not sure what to do with lentils? Click here to try Dynamite Dahl or Lentil Tacos.
Tips for Extending Groceries
- Add beans or lentils to anything made with ground meats to increase the number of servings. I use this strategy often in a home with 2 teenagers!
- Down to your last chicken breast? Slice a chicken breast thinly and use in pad Thai, curries, stews, pasta & stir fry.
- If your produce starts to go a little limp, you can often still save it. Simply cut the ends off of celery stalks and place in water. It will crisp up again in a few hours.
- Place fresh herbs in a glass of water and cover with the plastic produce bag it came in. The herb is still living and will continue to drink water for a few days. This will help avoid the slimy produce bag you find in the back of your produce drawer. If you know you aren’t going to use all of the herb bunch simply wash, chop and place into ice cube trays with a little water or olive oil. The frozen cubes can be used in dishes like stews, curries & soup.
- Extend berries by swirling in a vinegar & water solution – 1 c vinegar:3 cup water; the vinegar helps eliminate bacteria & mould. Click here to read more.
- Have little bits and pieces of things leftover from other meals? Get creative and turn it into a soup, stew or curry. Waste not, want not.
- Use online ordering if possible. Currently, Zehrs is offering this service, however, in rural areas the smaller grocery stores are providing this service with a good old fashioned phone call or email.
- If you do head into the grocery store, choose less busy times to shop (often evening hours are less busy than day time hours). Try ‘googling,’ the store that you like to shop in and find out when is the least busy time to go.
- Offer to pick up groceries for elderly or immune-compromised family & neighbours.
- Be efficient – remember that detailed list?
- Go alone – this is not a social outing.
- Use hand sanitizer before you go into the store as a courtesy to others.
- Wipe grocery cart handle with a disinfecting wipe.
- Touch what you take. Forget foraging for the perfect apple. If you discover it has a blemish on it, you’ll survive. Cut it out of the apple when you eat it & move on.
- While I typically try to avoid extra plastic while shopping, during this pandemic I am choosing to purchase my greens in plastic packages or clamshells. I purchase my apples prepackaged as well. This just provides an extra layer of protection on the food while in the grocery store.
- Keep your distance in the store and under no circumstances make any jokes about being sick. I think it is safe to say that we are all a little on edge these days & this kind of humour is not helpful or appreciated in public spaces.
- Pay with a debit or credit card that has a tap function if possible.
- Be kind, be patient and be gracious to one another.
- Once you’ve left the store, use your hand sanitizer again.
- Drive home & enjoy the scenery. Open your car windows and shout hello at everyone you know – maybe even people you don’t. Listen to the birds and notice the signs of Spring all around you.
- Welcome home – carry in the groceries and wash your hands.
Taking Your Groceries Home
COVID-19 transmission through food
Please note this information is correct at the time of writing on March 30, 2020. Please refer to up to date references for more accurate information.
“Scientists and food safety authorities across the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.”
“According to a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, here is how long the virus can last on different surfaces.
- Plastic or stainless steel for two to three days.
- Cardboard for 24 hours.
- Copper for four hours.
“As for packaged items from the grocery store, epidemiologist Dr. Rama Nair suggests rinsing them with soap and water if possible, or at least a disinfectant wipe approved for use against coronavirus. Nair adds that fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed as soon as they are brought into your home.
“We don’t have enough data to know how long it can stay on the food; it will depend on many factors. Therefore, as a precaution, it is better to wash … since we know washing with soap and water destroys the virus,” he said. If you choose to disinfect your deliveries, use soap and water, and wash your hands after unpacking your items.”
Tips For Unpacking Your Groceries:
- Unpack your things. Remove any extra packaging that isn’t necessary. (i.e. cereal or cracker boxes and just keep the inner layer.) For jars, cans and other packages consider wiping them down with a disinfecting wipe. Wash your fruits and veggies with water before putting them into your fridge if possible. See note above about purchasing greens. Pre-washing & storing certain produce like berries, herbs & greens may actually lead them to spoil quicker. Do what you can and where it makes sense to do so.
- And wrap it all up with handwashing. Look how good you are getting at this! Although with all this handwashing, maybe you should add hand lotion to your next grocery list though!
Remember, we are all in this together and we want to help flatten the curve of infection. I realize that much of what I have suggested may seem a little over the top. I would like to gently remind you that living in a pandemic also seems a little over the top. Be kind to one another and take good care of yourself and your loved ones.
Do you have any grocery tips to share? Please leave your comment below…
When preparing blog posts, I like to be a little ahead of the game. This way if I have a busy week, I know that I am all prepped and ready to go. As I looked through what I had prepared for this spring, I noticed an underlying theme to my writing. Much of it has to do with building community. My posts were about getting to know your neighbour and building community. I couldn’t have imagined that in the matter of a week, give or take, we would be in a new space where social distancing was the new ‘norm,’ and building community would look so different.
So here we are in a time in history where being close to another person carries some risk. While this is a lot to take in and believe me I go from feeling over-cautious to underprepared in a matter of minutes, now even more than before we need community.
Building Community from a Distance:
As we have seen, the landscape changes rapidly in regards to this virus. The following suggestions are just that – suggestions, and they are based on best practice at the moment.
- Set up video chat times with family and friends. Spread them out throughout the week, so that you can have the opportunity to look forward to connecting. A few days ago, I spent some time video chatting with my nephews on the phone. We ended up playing an impromptu game of hide and seek while they were looking for Grandma who lives with us.
- While I typically try to avoid spending too much time on social media, I have appreciated it more than ever. In our local community, there have been days assigned to looking for different pictures/drawings/painted rocks and such while people are on walks in their neighbourhoods. At this point, walking in your neighbourhood is still permitted, but remember to keep your distance.
- Try to keep tabs on your neighbours who are seniors, immune-compromised, parents at home with small children. Send them a text or message them to see if you can help them out by picking up a grocery store order or dropping off a meal for porch pick up. By the way, I am new to this online grocery shopping thing, but so far so good. Having the ability to pick up my order without entering a grocery store is a big plus in my books right now.
I am not going to lie, some days are going to be tough…and likely already have been. The thing is though that we are all in this together. Let’s lookout for one another and take care of one another as best we can. What are some other ways to build community from a distance? Please share below!