By Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD
The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD to write this blog post.
During times of uncertainty, encouraging patients and clients to focus on aspects of their health they can control is even more important. When life throws curveballs and routines fall out of whack, self-care becomes even more essential. Here are five ways we can encourage balance during hectic times:
1. Fuel your Body (and Brain!) with Combination Meals and Snacks. Often people find themselves grazing or snacking frequently because their food choices aren’t bulky enough to promote satiety. Multi-food group combos pairing protein-rich foods, like eggs, with sources of fiber and healthful fats trigger satiety signals and provide maximum nutrients and absorption.
Great examples include:
- Avocado and Potato Hash with Sunny Side Eggs
- Pear, Spinach, and Egg Flatbread
- Quinoa Crust Vegetable Quiche
- Spicy Black Bean Breakfast Burrito
Each of these examples provides nutrient-rich sources of protein, carbohydrate and fat, coupled with colorful plants, making a perfect macro- and micronutrient matrimony. With only 1 in 10 adults eating enough fruits and vegetables1 , eggs are a particularly great vehicle in a plant-forward diet. In fact, naturally nutrient-rich eggs can help with the absorption of nutrients found in plant foods like vitamin E and carotenoids. Plus, pairing plant foods with high-quality protein foods, like eggs, can help meet protein needs to help support healthy muscles and strong bones.
2. Prioritize Family Meals. Whether this means physically in your own home or virtually, mealtime is the perfect time to check in with family. Research indicates family meals are associated with greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods and vitamins.2 Kids also see improved grades, less participation in risky behaviors and less likelihood of developing eating disorders with more family meals eaten per week.3 Whether you choose breakfast, lunch or dinner, the benefits amplify with more meals eaten together each week. Try kid-friendly recipes like the Caprese Egg Muffins, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancake Poppers, or Egg Pita Snackers.
3. Eat Intuitively. Humans are born with innate hunger and fullness cues. Although these can be overridden over time when they are ignored, they can be uncovered by practicing mindfulness around eating experiences. Evaluating hunger before, during and after eating occasions helps sharpen personal awareness and unearth habits of eating in response to stress, boredom or emotions. Alternative coping mechanisms like walking, meditation, practicing a hobby or catching up with a friend are healthy responses to external triggers unrelated to hunger.
4. Sweep Out the Negative. Give permission to not be perfect. Successful long-term healthy habits are bred from someone’s ability to quickly dive back into positive behaviors rather than ruminate on unhealthy pitfalls. The week is not botched from a cookie, a missed workout or indulging in your favorite takeout. No one has tainted the next hour or the next day. Encourage clients to hop back on the healthy train and likewise consider removing negative social media influences that might make them feel poorly about themselves.
5. Add in One New Positive Habit. If nothing else, ask your clients, “What’s one thing you could change today that would help you live a healthier life?” This question invites clients to weigh their values, empowering manageable, realistic changes.
When clients are looking for advice on how to optimize health during uncertain times, remember to look at the big picture and point them toward long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes in ways that are meaningful to them!
- Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1241–1247. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6645a1.
- Adv Nutr. Come and Get It! A Discussion of Family Mealtime Literature and Factors Affecting Obesity Risk. 2014 May; 5(3): 235–247. Published online 2014 May 6. doi: 10.3945/an.113.005116
- Can Fam Physician. Systematic review of the effects of family meal frequency on psychosocial outcomes in youth. 2015 Feb; 61(2): e96–e106.