The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted how we live our lives. The more obvious things include staying at home, working remotely and, of course, Zoom classes. As the months of quarantine continued, people started to realize how much it impacted their eating habits. With more time on their hands, people have had to determine whether quarantine is an opportunity to gain new skills in the kitchen or if it is time for takeout.
Lade Gbolade is a senior cell biology and molecular genetics major. Gbolade lives in a house off campus and has access to a full kitchen. Since the start of quarantine, she has been making more meals at home since she has more time to focus on it. “Due to the pandemic I decided to make a commitment to eating healthy and cooking a lot more,” said Gbolade.
Even though Gblolade has been cooking more, she still eats out occasionally. “When it comes to eating out I still do once in a while, but quarantine made me realize cooking is much more rewarding,” she said.
Kathleen Ericson, a first-year kinesiology student, is similar to Gbolade in this regard. As an athlete, Ericson has always been conscious of her health and eating habits. Due to quarantine, she has been able to take more time with her meals. She said “I have used quarantine rather to make fun recipes.”
Emma Levett, a first-year student, lives on campus and has a dining plan. Even though she does not have access to a kitchen to cook her own meals, she says that quarantine still impacted her eating habits. “Since I didn’t have the distraction of normal daily activities, my time in quarantine revolved around when I would eat and exercise which made me much more conscious of what I was eating,” she said.
Levett said that she does not eat out more because of quarantine, but “would tend to look forward to those eating out days more than before.”
Marion Irvin, a registered and licensed dietician nutritionist at MedStar Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, states that, “in regards to cost-effectiveness, cooking at home will always save you money in comparison to eating out.” She also noted that, “it is not realistic to expect a person to cook every meal every day of the week.”
In a time with so much uncertainty, it is good that we can rely on food to help boost our mood. Irvin thinks that cooking at home has its perks.
“It is a great feeling to create a meal and have control over what I am eating,” said Irvin.
Even though cooking at home has its benefits, you can still find a balanced diet whether you’re at home or getting take out.
“Try making half of your plate any fruit or vegetable, a quarter of your plate protein, and a quarter of your plate carbs,” said Irvin.
For home recipes, “produce in the frozen aisle is just as nutritious as what you can find in the produce section of the store, while also being more cost effective,” said Irvin. She also provided this example of balance when taking out: “Say you're at an Italian restaurant and get a bowl of pasta,” she said, “try adding a protein to your pasta and ordering a side salad.”
Irvin is an advocate for making sure people are aware about balance in their meals.
“This is a sustainable eating pattern that is associated with a healthier lifestyle and decreased risk of developing chronic diseases in the future,” she continued.
Quarantine has its challenges, but people have been able to find new joys in their daily meals. “The key to finding balance is being comfortable in the kitchen,” Irvin states. Once you navigate how to put together healthy meals at home, that mindset will carry over into your decisions for when you decide you want to treat yourself to a take out meal.