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Following Your Daily Work, or Study, Schedule at Home (That Includes Eating)

November 03, 2020

By Cathy Schneider
Clinical Dietician
Backus Hospital

When schools returned to academics this fall in person or online, or a combination, parents must have wondered how to get a better handle on food and nutrition in the home.

“Pandemic eating” during the spring lockdown resulted in people eating a lot of unhealthy foods, as families found themselves homebound and working or studying remotely. Any time you are eating in front of your screen, it’s easy to lose track of what you are doing. Suddenly, you’ve eaten the whole box.

With this new season of virtual work and school, it can be most helpful to create a schedule similar to what you would have if you were attending school in person. Children aren’t allowed to eat all day at their desks in school, and they shouldn’t have that luxury during virtual school either.

Here are things you can do to help:

  • Create and stick to a schedule.
  • Schedule meals and snacks.
  • Take “activity” breaks, so that everyone leaves their screens and moves around. It can be as short as 15 minutes a couple of times a day.
  • Don’t eat in front of the computer.
  • Prepare snacks and meals in advance to ensure proper protein, healthy fats, and good carbs are being consumed.

The best way to prep meals and snacks is to do it the same day you do your grocery shopping. That way, as you are putting away the groceries, you are creating what you need for the week. Individually packaged hummus with raw veggies, yogurt with fruit, or cottage cheese with nuts or seeds means that the kids can easily grab a healthy snack.

Even the youngest children can learn independence with a designated “snack shelf” in the fridge or cupboard filled with prepackaged items.

High school and college-age students studying at home may be harder to control. Encourage fruits and veggies and make sure you have them. Buy single-serve packages of chips and cookies to discourage overeating. And air-popped corn is great because you can consume a large volume for not a lot of calories.

And while the family may feel as if they are already spending way too much time together, setting aside an hour for everyone to prepare and eat dinner together is real quality time that ensures good nutrition and a break from the screens.

Cathy Schneider is a clinical dietician at Backus Hospital in Norwich.