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Tips & Tricks on Maintaining Healthy Habits Established in Pandemic

by: Dr. Mary Claire Haver
Woman dicing a green apple, a healthy habit she picked up during the Corona Virus pandemic.

Getting Back to the Real-World!
How to maintain healthy habits established during the pandemic

When the pandemic started, I felt like I had control over only a few aspects of my life. Many “regular” activities, from going out to the grocery store to getting on an airplane, were restricted. Now, as pandemic era restrictions have been lifted and more and more people are vaccinated, I am so thrilled to be doing many of my favorite things: going out to dinner, parties, sporting events, and concerts, joining friends for group workouts, and getting back to a regular work schedule.

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Along with the joy that I feel about getting back to my “old” life, I am also aware of the trepidation I have around maintaining the healthy eating and exercise habits that I established during the pandemic. Suddenly, I’m faced with lots of choices each day, and it can be a struggle to make the best choice. Below, I’ve listed a few situations where making healthy choices can be challenging and some tips and tricks to help make those choices easier.

Eating in Restaurants

If you have time, preview the menu online so that you have time to think about the best thing to order. If you can’t plan, look for menu items that fit with the type of menu planning you’ve been doing during the pandemic: meals with healthy fats, lean proteins, and minimal carbs. If the salmon burger sounds good to you, eat it without the bun, or better yet, ask the waiter if it can be served as a lettuce wrap and add avocado on the side.

Info graphic that says 'Tips & Tricks on maintaining healthy habits established in the pandemic while eating in restaurants - Preview the menu online before if possible - Look for menu items that fir with the healthy fats, lean proteins and minimal carbs you've been eating during the pandemic. If that salmon burger sounds good, eat it without the bun. Or ask if it can be served as a lettuce wrap and add avocado on the side.

Going to parties

When invited to a party or BBQ, ask what you can bring or offer to bring something that you will feel good about eating like a salad filled with seasonal veggies, a crudité platter, or the Galveston Diet Caprese Bites. I’m a big fan of anything that I can put on a skewer, whether it is fruit, shrimp, or veggies; the size of the skewer already sets the serving size, and finger foods are always a hit at parties.

In addition, making good choices about what you drink at a party can be challenging. Plan ahead and have a healthy drink of choice or two in mind before you get to the party. My favorite drink for the summer of 2021 is a refreshing white wine spritzer, in part because it is easy to make with just a few ingredients that are usually on hand at a party or bbq. If you are in the mood for something festive, “up” your wine spritzer game by trying one of these variations:

  • Add fresh strawberries or raspberries with a lemon twist.
  • Add a sprig of rosemary, mint, or basil along with a wedge of lemon or lime.

Working out with friends or going to the gym

You’ve done a great job of staying hydrated during the pandemic, probably in part because you were at home with the water dispenser in the refrigerator calling your name each time you walked by it. As an incentive to stay hydrated when exercising away from home and alleviate having to look for a place to refill my water bottle, I purchased a new, larger water bottle with inspirational reminders about drinking more water written on the side of it.

Enjoy spending time with friends again; the motivation that you get from them is the best! Ease back into your routine of working out with friends by scheduling a regular meeting time; start slow with meeting once a week and add in more weekly workouts as your schedule allows. You may even discover that you have time for a quick coffee or brunch after the workout!

Going back to work

Rely on the meal planning and prep habits that you’ve developed during the pandemic to help you avoid eating a quick but not-so-healthy lunch or all of the unhealthy foods that you encounter at work. A few reminders about meal prep for lunch at work:

  • Chop veggies
  • Precook meat or fish for lunch: grill, saute, poach or bake.
  • Divide nuts into serving size portions 
  • Pack your lunch and snacks for work in containers that you can “grab and go” on a busy morning.
  • For more information, check out our Meal Prep Tips.
Infographic that says, Tips & Tricks on maintaining healthy habits established in the pandemic while going back to work. - Prepare for meals at work - Chop veggies at home - Precook meat or fish for lunch: grill, saute, poach or bake - Divide nuts into serving size portions beforehand - Pack your lunch and snacks for work in containers that you can 'grab and go' on a busy morning.

Enjoying the summer with your children/grandchildren

It is wonderful to be able to spend time with your kids and grandchildren, and you can easily incorporate healthy habits into your summer fun! Continue to make healthy food choices when eating out, prep snack foods, and get the kids involved, too! Kids love finger foods, and there are plenty of healthy snacks that they can help you prepare in advance to keep the whole family happy.

As you spend time with your children this summer, be sure to incorporate movement into your day. Are you taking the kids to soccer practice? Walk around the field or do yoga with another soccer parent while you wait. Are you going to the beach with your grandchildren? Be sure to bring a frisbee, paddleball, and other beach toys so that everyone stays active. Taking a trip to Disney? Lucky you! The average Disney park visitor walks at least 5 miles a day.

In the end, you should congratulate yourself for starting and maintaining healthy habits in the midst of all of the stress caused by the pandemic. Hopefully, continuing with these habits as you get back to living your life to the fullest will be a snap!

If you are looking to take your habit-forming skills a step further, check out the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Our Facebook Group, Galveston For Life, has been studying it this month. If you want to learn more about joining Galveston For Life, please click here. We would love for you to join our inclusive community of Galveston Dieters!

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This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.

Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency room immediately.

The views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other institution with which the authors are affiliated.

While the information on the site was prepared to provide accurate information regarding topics related to general and specific health issues, the information contained in the site is made available with the express understanding that neither Dr. Mary Claire Haver,, nor the other experts on the site, nor the site itself, nor members of the Site are dispensing medical advice and do not intend any of this information to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.


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