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Healthy Family Style Meals Take Center Stage – Post Pandemic

We have all been hunkered down starting back in March of 2020 with the onset of a worldwide pandemic, hibernating like bears has subsequently followed us deep into the heart of the winter of 2022. Couple the fast-spreading virus with the extreme seasonal temperatures and we have a recipe for complacency. 

Likely driven partly by fear and the desire to comfort ourselves, we remain most of the time in the safe haven of our own homes. It’s no wonder many people are suffering from a mild form of depression. That seasonal sadness typically experienced in winter used to be referred to simply as the doldrums is now magnified to epic proportions affecting our mental health in staggering numbers, all thanks to Covid.

According to a study by Kff.org “During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. A share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.”

Depression and anxiety often lead to unhealthy behaviors. Overeating, alcohol consumption, cravings, and lack of energy. As a society we are becoming lazy and who could blame us? From food to fashion, the way we go to work, school and the way we even socialize leaves us seeking out ways to comfort ourselves.

Contrary to what we may think, working and attending school from home has not helped us to break the fast food habit. According to a published fast-food industry statistic about consumerism during the 2020-2022 pandemic, we are still indulging ourselves with crispy, salty french fries and fatty sauce-laden foods. Maybe partly due to the fact that ordering a bucket of chicken, a burger or both has never been easier from your phone. Simply click that app open and you never have to move farther than your own front door. 

More often than not, when we do manage
to venture to the outside world
we tend to sit in our cars
while others serve our food to us
from the drive through window. 
Even our weekly shopping list items
are wheeled out on a cart by a grocery clerk and placed in the trunk of our cars.

Being at home more often also means we have ramped up the art of couch-potato snacking. It is easy to add up the calories while binging an entire season of the most popular show. Savvy marketers tempt us with ads for cheese puffs and M&Ms and try to deepen our addiction to junk food. This strategy is highly successful for them, just think about how many times you hit the pause button during your last binge watch to get up from the couch to fetch a snack.

Our bad food habits are not just happening on the couch or in our cars. In 2021 entertaining at home has become popular. We now have pizza and game nights, football and wings, and potluck suppers featuring big pots of stew and homemade breads. Along with that type of socialization comes the indulgence of sweet soda, beer, wine and other alcohol. All adding up to unwanted pounds.

Fashion has fed into our need to feel coddled with its everyday stretchy waisted Athleisure styles. It is perfectly acceptable to wear yoga pants on business zoom calls and even out to dinner. In the off chance that you want to wear a dress, check out the selections that designers are touting these days and all you will find are oversized frumpy prairie dresses and skirts. For men the selection is slightly better but still very relaxed. 

We love being cozy and feeling loved. The Covid fashion trends hide all those extra pounds under all the elastic waist bands and further boost our desire to feel soothed. This plays well into the fact that the only people we really interact with in person are close friends and relatives who will accept us the way we are. 

The piper will eventually have to be paid. Fashion is a cruel industry and next year it will have us all being rewarded for showing off flat abs and thin thighs. The dresses and shirts will show every curve and we will all be back in more formal clothing, if not at least business casual.

With spring fast approaching and bathing suit season to follow we do not need not panic. There is time to start making small changes that can add up to a more rewarding lifestyle even in the future. Changes that allow us to embrace the new ways of life with all its modern post pandemic conveniences. Health professionals tell us in order to shed pounds we must incorporate lower calories, higher fiber, and exercise. This means less junk, more fruit and vegetables and getting off the couch.

Get Off The Couch!

Just as in 2020 as we designated spaces for a home office and classrooms, perhaps in 2022 more of us will convert a room to a home gym. According to Forbes “The craze for home fitness technology saw some manufacturers such as Peloton do extremely well during the pandemic”. They go on to say “if CES 2022 was anything to go by, that trend shows no sign of slowing down.” Whoop, a start up fit tech company, was recently valued at 3.6 billion.

Set Up A Home Gym

As the warmer weather approaches we can expect the popularity of family time and exercise to blend, Perhaps we will see the return of local neighborhood softball leagues and kick ball games. It would be great to see children playing outdoors playing tag, jumping rope, or simply chasing fireflies while parents keep watch nearby.

Get Outside To Play

Over the past several years there has been a reinvigorated enthusiasm among men to man their grills and show off their backyard barbecue skills. NPData says “The pandemic compelled consumers to spend on grilling and outdoor cooking, as a way to gather safely, create new experiences with family, and even learn new skills, during increased time spent at home.” According to Bloomberg News, “sales of grills and smokers in the U.S. soared 41% to $3.2 billion for the 12 months ending in March 2021.” The predictions are that the backyard barbecues are here to stay. 

Gather At The Grill

When it comes to enjoying our homes more, swimming pools are the hottest home improvement and if you are thinking about installing an in-ground pool in your yard be prepared to dole out higher prices and be patient. We have heard that there is a long waiting list for pool construction.

Another popular home improvement project that we are contracting for is fenced yards. This means more playtime for our four-legged and two-legged kids. We can look forward to more games of catch or fetch and more play dates outdoors. There is little doubt we are already reinvesting in the way we live. 

According to Business Wire “The home service industry as a whole is doing quite well, cleaning, contracting and landscaping grew strong in 2021.” This may be due to some shifts in focus, working remotely, or in the realization that we just want to enjoy more time on the weekends with friends and family instead of weeding the flower beds or cleaning toilets.

Spruce Up The Back Yard 

All companies, regardless of size and or industry, have had to adapt and shift the way they do business. The biggest change for the corporate world has been that the bulk of their workforce now being based from home offices. Given the option to return to the office has been less appealing to a great deal of their employees, with many of them preferring to return to the office only a day or two a week. For some employees the return to the office at all is unacceptable and are willing to seek out employers who will offer a 100% work from home benefit.

Business travel had shifted also. Many large in-person conferences successfully morphed into either virtual or hybrid conferences. According to a survey conducted by Owl Labs, “COVID-19 has taught us that working from the office doesn’t equal productivity. With the right tools and support, people can work from anywhere. Video conferencing technology has become the standard form of communication with 60% of respondents using video more than before COVID-19, bringing new considerations for remote employees.” 

Small businesses and consultants have moved away from the meeting rooms and coffee shops and shifted to online collaboration and learning sessions. Even cooking classes are being brought to you virtually in the safety and convenience of your own home.

Take A Virtual Cooking Class

This bodes well for those who find themselves seeking out educational information around food preparation techniques. According to Smart Brief “A 2020 survey of 2,200 US consumers found that the intention to keep up with home cooking is especially strong among younger demographics, with 43% of Gen Z respondents saying they too intend to cook at home more after the pandemic is over.”

They are even more focused on the balance of mental and physical health. They tend to engage in fresh air activities and adopt exercise as a way of life. This group of savvy young professionals know that they need to provide nutritionally sound meal options for themselves and their families.

They prefer to prepare healthy snacks ahead of time that can be easily accessed. They know how to structure their grocery budgets and how to design balanced menus that stay on target financially. They understand that beyond planning meals they need to serve meals that are not only simple but also creative.

That being said, experts strongly agree that some conveniences are here to stay. The financial predictions for popular delivery services are strong into at least 2027. We can’t imagine not using an app to order all the things we need and have them sent directly to our homes. We may not ever spend hours at the grocery store again.

Convenience and fast foods will never completely go away as it serves its purpose when necessary. The future of health is food and the future of food is healthier than it’s ever been. Look at how many fast food places have quickly adopted a plant based option. 

In an article titled: How to Look After Your Health by MentalHealth.Org.UK
They cite reducing stress as one way to improve mental health, along with exercise and socialization. Finding smarter ways to take the guesswork out of what to prepare for dinner can reduce day to day anxiety. Add in more daily exercise, healthy eating habits and socialization and you have a winning recipe.

Tomorrow’s food consumer will adopt the “everything in moderation motto.” This fits nicely into everyone’s personal goals without being too restrictive. That is why planning what you will put in your body and what you will provide for your family will be the key to getting back on track. Purchasing healthy food, cooking a large variety of more sensible meals at home. 

Start Meal Prepping

Where most good intentioned eaters stumble and ultimately fall back upon poor meal habits are in the planning phase. They fail to plan and therefore plan to fail. Read our article: Why Most People Fail at Meal Prep to learn more. Having menus designed that work for your lifestyle and budget, creating shopping lists and sticking to them, meal prepping in advance to save time will curb the desire to eat for convenience.  The second area that trips people up is the inability to stick to the plan, that is where accountability to others becomes a good option. Education, planning and accountability along with exercise will help to curb bad behaviors. 

As spring fast approaches stop binge eating, try consuming fewer processed foods and increasing your outdoor activity. Meal Prep Made is a new alternative to learning how to prepare more healthy meals at home. The program works in conjunction with any popular weight management programs like WW or Noom. Take a meal prep class, join a group for accountability, and get access to pre-designed meal prep menus and automated shopping lists. You will be ready to step into the next season of 2022 with a new confidence and a pep in your step! 

Spruce Up The Back Yard