Illustration: Furze Chan

How to Eat in the New Normal

How to Eat Healthy When You’re Staring at Your Fridge All Day

Easy-to-follow advice for eating under quarantine

Elemental
Published in
8 min readMay 1, 2020

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This story is part of How to Eat in the New Normal, a weeklong series about how the Covid-19 pandemic is changing the way we eat, with expert advice for making food choices that help you stay healthy and happy.

As you sit reading this, you’re quite possibly within sight of your refrigerator. For many of us, staying at home is changing the way we’re eating — whether it means constant snacking, eating more than we’re used to, eating the same things more often, or just eating because we’re bored. (We are all pretty bored.)

This change is to be expected, even as we navigate a pandemic none of us could have expected. “Mealtimes and food are just weird right now,” says Christy Harrison, RD, author of Anti-Diet. (Case in point: Harrison was eating what she called a “mid-morning snack” during our interview, at 2:45 in the afternoon.) “We have to give ourselves grace and room to eat in a way that might be unusual.”

With that in mind, here are some simple strategies to help you grant yourself that grace — whether you’re navigating meals solo or feeding a whole family — to help you stay healthy and keep your fridge from sending you into an anxiety tailspin.

Stop worrying about snacking

If you’re familiar at all with the concept of intuitive eating, you may have seen it boiled down to “eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.” Harrison, who specializes in intuitive eating, says that particular approach is, well, just not very helpful right now. “I feel like that’s how intuitive eating gets turned into a diet: Honor your hunger when it’s there, but if you’re not hungry, do not eat. But self-care is such an important reason to eat right now,” she says.

If your mind is telling you to eat, even if you aren’t feeling true hunger signals, it’s okay to just embrace that. However, if constant snacking is affecting how you’re feeling physically — for example, if you’re feeling sluggish or experiencing digestive issues like gas or an upset stomach — make a mental note of that (even if that doesn’t mean you…

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Sara Gaynes Levy
Elemental

is a writer focusing primarily on health and women’s cultural issues. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and more.