How has the pandemic affected healthy eating and wellness?

April 14, 2021

Lyndsay Barto, a registered dietician for Realize Wellbeing, occasionally helps Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) Director of University Wellness, Kim Baker with assisting faculty and staff on healthy eating and educating on how a well-balanced diet can affect one’s mental health, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

NKU faculty and staff also have the opportunity to meet with Barto several times throughout the year as their personal wellness coach. They can meet with her one-on-one and set goals they hope to achieve as far as their own wellbeing goes. 

“I think that whenever there is an increased amount of stress in someone’s life, sometimes eating healthier can become more difficult,” Barto said. “Sometimes, naturally based on what we are going through, if we are going through a really stressful time, the food that we consume isn’t as high a priority for us as just kind of managing the other things in life that become a higher priority.”  

The Office of University Wellness at NKU also hosts virtual webinars on different health topics to encourage others to continue to eat healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Baker, stress can affect a person’s eating habits in many ways.

“It’s really dependent on the individual’s personality, and their response to the pandemic,” said Baker. “We have a group of people that have turned to stress eating to kind of cope with the stress of the pandemic. We have the fact that people are working from home instead of from the office, so their refrigerator is 20 feet away from them. That’s creating a challenge for some. There are some people who have used the pandemic to improve their health.” 

According to Baker, being at home all the time can cause an individual to stress-eat or decide to eat healthier. When people make the choice to eat healthier, they want to make sure half of what they are eating is fruit.

“If you are eating a really unhealthy meal or snack right before you go to bed, you probably aren’t going to sleep very well, because your body is working to digest that food instead of getting the rest that you need,” Baker said. “Food can have a definite impact on your mental health, your mood, and your ability to manage stress.”

Christian Roszkowski, a senior nursing major said that eating healthy can affect mental health as well as physical appearance. 

“With us being college students, we are always in a rush, we are always in a hurry so we are always going to go for the quickest thing,” Roszkowski said. “When we go for the quickest thing, it is not always the healthiest thing. Not choosing the healthiest thing can affect our energy levels later on in the day.”

Overall, eating healthy is important to our mental health and our physical health, and the sooner we start eating healthier, the sooner a healthy lifestyle will become a routine. “The foods that you are consuming now do matter for the time to come,” Barto said. 

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