MILLINGTON, Tenn. - As the world continues to change, often one’s focus changes. Making sure our focus does not drift away from eating a healthy diet is important not just as a warfighter, but as a partner, a spouse, a parent and even just an everyday person concerned about their health.

Recently, there have been research articles published that have provided information supporting obesity concerns related to COVID-19 and sheltering in place. In addition, stress levels, depression and anxiety have commonly increased during these times. All of these factors may be contributing to unhealthy eating habits. Increasing unhealthy food choices or “comfort foods,” ordering fast food for pick up and not planning food choices and eating whatever is convenient becomes the normal routine for many when feeling overwhelmed. For others, habits may have not changed but maybe our activity level has gone down and our waistlines are trending up.

Nutrition is important for immune health, the prevention of obesity and reduction of the risk of disease. It has to be our focus and our pathway for improved health. What we eat affects how we feel, weight management and can even impede our ability to fight off disease.

Food is fuel and it assists us with our decisions, our mood and our ability to perform. We need to remember that we are not living to eat, but eating to live and to find the balance that will sustain us, improve us and make us a healthier group of people as a whole.

On a positive note, a few smaller recent studies reported that some people have started improving their lifestyle during the current pandemic.

These people should be applauded for changing their lifestyle by eating healthier, exercising more, stopping smoking or whatever else they might be doing to be healthy. We need to look to these people in setting the trend for the military community.

If you are ready to make changes and do not know how, here are some basic tips to start:

1. Set a goal and be realistic to make lasting changes.

2. Find support and have someone to help hold you accountable.

3. Make a plan. Get a notebook, use a journal or find an app on your phone that works for you.

4. Be visual with your plate. Use the plate method from the choosemyplate.gov website to help you be visual with your plate, focus on portions and identify what is covering your plate. If you are eating half of a plate of plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables this is a good plan. These foods typically are lower in calories to help control weight but also provide you more antioxidants to combat disease.

5. Pick the right foods. Try focusing on eating the rainbow with increased fruits and vegetables, add in protein sources such as eggs, low-fat yogurt, milk, chicken, turkey, beans, nuts, and fish high in omega-3s that also provide you a dose of healthy fats too.

Adding in those healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, olives or olive oil are all great sources as well. Other items to add are whole grain foods such as brown rice and oats and avoiding refined foods.

Your health matters, nutrition is important for your health. Making healthy changes and changing your focus to making nutrition a priority will improve your longevity, performance and readiness, which is key for anyone being a part of the military family. You are welcome to contact melissa.amescua@navy.mil for any questions or comments on nutritional health.

Connecticut Media Group