In this time of unprecedented challenges, keeping ourselves healthy is vital. We all know the basics of what that entails — healthy habits such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and quality nutrition. But as our normal patterns and structures have been dramatically disrupted, maintaining positive behaviors can be a challenge. In a Thrive Global survey of 5,000 respondents around coronavirus pain points, almost 75% reported that they are concerned about their ability to maintain healthy habits right now.
Take healthy eating, for example. It’s not surprising that many people report eating out of boredom or anxiety more than they usually do, or over-relying on comfort foods as a way to cope with their stress. But while the temptation to “indulge” — especially in foods loaded with sugar and fat — is understandable, doing your best to make nutritious choices can pay dividends in the long run.
“The importance of following a healthy diet and lifestyle is becoming more apparent than ever as we learn more about the effects of COVID-19 on the human body,” Anabelle Ahdoot, M.S., R.D., clinical nutrition manager at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. tells Thrive.
As Ahdoot points out, science shows those “treats” we reach for can have a cumulative negative impact on our health. “An excessive intake of saturated fat, sugar, and processed foods could lead to oxidative stress in the body which will actually lower our immune response,” she says. On the flip side, avoiding sugar can help us reduce chronic inflammation, according to a study from the C.D.C. and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (Inflammation contributes to many conditions that put us at greater risk for viral infections.)
The good news is that you don’t have to overhaul your diet overnight. Try this Thrive Microstep to start small — and make it easier for your healthy habit to stick: