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5 Tips for Pandemic Healthy Eating

Four months into the pandemic and counting, many are physically and mentally feeling the toll. Discover simple ways to take control of your wellness without defeating diets or extreme measures.

Increased stress, a constant flow of bad news, and being stuck inside all day has kicked wellness to the wayside. Jessica Werre, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, shares advice for getting back on track with healthy eating, exercise, and a balanced lifestyle.

Balance Is Key

Our diet should consist of 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, whole grains, lean proteins, beans/legumes, dairy and dairy alternatives, and lots of water. Cutting back on foods with added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat is good, but Werre suggests allowing everything in moderation. Forbidden foods often become more desirable.  

To help ensure balance, plan before you head to the grocery store. With fewer shopping trips lately, it’s smart to get a mix of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried foods.

Listen to Your Body

With the kitchen in close proximity, overeating is easy to do. To help curb that habit, be in tune with your body. Eat slowly to allow your body time to realize it’s full. Cut out distractions while you eat. No phone, TV, or computer.

“Ask yourself, ‘Am I physically or mentally hungry?’” Werre said. “Listening to the body’s hunger and fullness cues is the best way to ensure you’re eating what your body needs.”

Small Goals

In today’s diet-driven culture, extremes are all the rage: no carbs, no sugar, 18-hour fasts. This is a ticket for failure, Werre said. Start by setting a small goal, accomplish it, then set another.

“Take it slow with behavior change,” she said. “Analyze your habits to see where you can make a minor improvement, manage it for 2 to 3 weeks, and once that is conquered move on to the next.”

A great tip: Don’t focus on deprivation of certain foods, but on what to add to your diet, especially fruits and vegetables.

Steps, Steps, Steps

For the work-from-homers, it’s easy to sit all day. Carve out 30 minutes, 5 days a week for exercise and make it a routine, Werre said. Online workout videos are a great resource, but your workout doesn’t have to be sweat dripping. Gardening, walking, or even housework is effective too.

Wellness Not Weight

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is incredibly stressful and so is weight gain. Increased stress can impact mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels — all factors that influence eating and exercise habits. Focus on wellness, not the number on the scale.  

“Self-care activities can help mitigate stress and steer us away from using food as a stress reliever,” Werre said. “Read a book, do a craft, take a bath, or go for a walk.”

It’s about finding what works for you: no extremes, a balanced diet, an exercise routine, and taking care of you.  

For more information on online exercise classes, visit, and to make an appointment with a registered dietician, head here.  


Dietnutritionweight losswellness

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. I totally agree with all of the comments. I too have concerns about CV19 weight gain and thought it was just only me! Hah it seems many are experiencing the same. I have to say that I find it difficult to push myself away from the computer. However, I also realize the importance of physical and mental health during these challenging times. With that said, I am determined to take 30-45 minutes/day to get out and take that walk or even do an online exercise class! Thank you so much for the article and I appreciate all the encouraging comments. I am motivated!!!

  2. I guess I still can’t get passed the fact “GOOD Foods” cost so much more then other options. EX. small container of Raspberries/blueberries $4.99 etc. When you have a large family that doesn’t work. Also, the article states “eat slowly to allow body to realize it’s full”, not going to happen when lunch is only 30 mins. for some people. You have to factor in the time it takes to get to the lunch area (even if only going to back room) and back to the work area. Just a couple random thoughts. What makes me happy and sane is what I do. Thanks for the article and reply’s nice to read.

    1. Thank you so much. So many people don’t point out the deterrents and practical stumbling blocks that hinder progress. I’m sure what you stated affects more than like to admit it. However, we have to push on to maintain good health and well-being, not just for ourselves but for our loved ones as well. What effects us eventually dominos down to them, and I don’t want any of my children to have to care for me.

  3. Jessica, I really appreciate the content of your article and it is very timely. I know myself and so many others has mention COVID weight gain. I’m encouraged to practice your article tips and to share them as well.

  4. Hi there, I agree with Kirstin’s comment. Let’s focus exclusively on wellness rather than weight or food throughout articles such as these moving forward.

  5. I love the content of this article! It is very much in line with what we know from research about helping people to become more intuitive eaters rather than restrictive eaters. However, the article has some mixed messages. On the one hand we have how many people have reported weight gain and the tagline of the article which encourages us to “take control of your wellness and lose some pounds while you’re at it.” On the other hand, the article also wants us to “Focus on wellness, not the number on the scale.” Let’s get the story straight, weight gain/weight loss is what everyone is hyperfocused on because of the messages we have been given by Diet/Wellness culture that thinner is better, always. So its “bad” if you’ve gained weight in this pandemic, because if you cared about wellness, you would be staying the same size or getting thinner only. That is not the case and bodies gain and lose weight for lots of different reasons.

    1. I agree with everything Kristin said. … wellness of mental health should be more pressed than the constant what size we should or shouldn’t be always thrown into a wellness article.

    2. While it is clear that many people are focused on their pandemic weight gain, in this article we hoped to focus more on wellness and tips to improve both mental and physical health during a stressful time.
      Jessica Werre, RD, CDE, Registered Dietitian II
      Kaiser Permanente Health Education
      Roseville Medical Center

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