How to stay healthy during coronavirus confinement

Mary Chao
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
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How can a family stay mindful and healthy during this time of stress — and also not come out 15 pounds heavier? 

Pittsford health coach Susan Sagan Levitan of Chapter U Heath has some tips. She herself is juggling a full house withtwo young sons at home along with a teleworking husband. She has opened her Facebook group page, Chapter U Health, for free during the shutdown.

Balance is everything

In times of panic and stress, many people resort to food, alcohol and other things as coping mechanisms, Levitan said.

"What we are all going through is completely unprecedented," she said. If you need a little unhealthy food or wine to help you de-stress or get through your day, do it, enjoy it, and then get yourself back on track so you don't go overboard."

Updates:The latest on coronavirus cases in Monroe County

Focus on eating as many whole, unprocessed and no added-sugar foods as possible. Load up on veggies, fruits, lean proteins such as chicken and turkey, salmon, eggs, hummus, avocado and whole grains. Eating clean with whole unprocessed foods will keep you full longer, provide nutrients and energy. Many of these foods that will help you manage your weight will also help boost your immune system, she said.

Perfect planning

Susan Sagan Levitan of Pittsford with her family.

The single best way to stay on track during this challenging time is to plan ahead. 

Make healthy meals in advance so you aren't scrambling and heating up a frozen pizza and French fries for dinner.   

Set yourself up for success by having healthy snacks accessible. Cut up veggies or fruit, prepare smoothies. Have nuts, trail mix portioned out; they will be easier to grab.

Cook once and eat twice. Make enough for leftovers and freeze stuff, too. 

On stockpiling

Fresh produce and meats will only last so long, but there are healthy, nonperishable items. Here's a list.

  • Canned tuna, chicken or salmon.
  • Shelf-stable milk: almond or coconut milk.
  • Almond butter or peanut butter.
  • Unsalted nuts.
  • Healthy protein bars such as RX and Lara Bars.
  • Homemade popcorn.
  • Whole-grain oatmeal.
  • Healthy, low-sodium soups.
  • Pasta such as Banza chickpea pasta or Barilla with added protein.
  • Frozen fruit and veggies. 
  • Canned fruit and veggies with no added sugars.
  • Dark chocolate. 
  • Sunflower seeds.
  • Chia, flax and hemp seeds that are great for smoothies.
  • Brown rice and quinoa.
  • Olive oil.
  • Beef jerky.
  • Beans.
  • Apple sauce.

Pro tips

Avoid sugary drinks like soda and juice. Try to avoid alcohol; it is diuretic and will dehydrate the drinker.

Get enough sleep: 7 to 9 hours is ideal.

Put extra focus into relaxation and self-care practices such as meditation. Show gratitude with deep breathing, at-home yoga and journaling, 

Take walks outside, play board games, watch movies, do puzzles, organize, read books and have quality family time together.

Mary Chao is the retail and real estate reporter at Democrat and Chronicle. Email tips to

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