COVID19 Habits life

Day 156 // Habit Series: Eating

August 18, 2020

Well, it makes sense to divide this post into meals, doesn’t it!


For years (until mid-30s perhaps?) I ate breakfast upon waking up even at a ridiculously early hour. But for the past few years I have not. I usually just drink coffee (black), do my whole morning routine, and eat breakfast with the kids post-workout. This is usually around 7:00-7:30 or thereabouts.

(Also, sadly “with the kids” often means standing at the counter and eating in 5 minutes while they eat because I need to start seeing patients/go to work/etc. I should work on this).

Typical choices are currently:

  • cottage cheese or yogurt bowl with fruit & granola, plus sometimes some maple syrup
  • waffle or half of a cinnamon raisin bagel with (generous amounts of) peanut butter & fruit
  • cereal (Life, oatmeal squares) + milk + fruit

More rare:

  • oatmeal with peanut butter & banana or raisins
  • eggs
  • pancakes (really on weekends w/ kids only)

Breakfasts of my dreams (that sadly never really happen, esp these days!)

  • homemade muffins or scones. ESP scones.
  • fancy hotel yogurt/granola bowls (why are they better than mine?)
  • fancy breakfast sandwiches
  • biscuits


Usually eaten also in 5 minutes. (This is the main theme of my eating habits). Usually at 12, sometimes even 11:30 if I am done with patients and have a 12pm meeting (not uncommon).

Current standbys:

  • turkey sandwich (bonus: add pickles, toast bread)
  • pb&j (yep)
  • some kind of raw veg on side (cucumbers, carrots, etc)
  • leftovers if we have them (BUT I’m often hoarding them for dinner #2)
  • Amy’s burritos or less frequently an Amy’s frozen meal
  • eggs
  • yogurt bowls if not eaten for breakfast


If I’m in a super disciplined mode I might not snack in the afternoons. If I wanted abs like Autumn Calabrese this would probably be a necessary thing to cut out. BUT . . . I am not usually in that mode, esp lately (oh well). I try to keep it reasonable at least in portion size and I’m usually somewhat hungry around 3pm. Options:

  • apple & pb
  • trail mix
  • dark chocolate (yep)
  • almonds
  • cookies if we have them (typically not which is good!)


Dinner with the kids usually happens around 5:30 to 6:00. Josh typically does not make it in time, and I usually eat with the kids (sorry Josh — I usually do try to sit with him later when he eats, though). Above is the BBQ Salmon Bowl with Mango Avocado Salsa (via Pinch of Yum, via LagLiv‘s meal plan!) that I made this past Sunday.

Sometimes the kids like what we have (see above); other times they refuse various parts of it. G is the least consistent eater though she does do better if we prevent her from guzzling milk before dinner. There’s usually at least one thing they like enough to have something.

I can’t wait to get to the point where the kids make less of a mess with dinner (esp RICE, OMG!). Anyone want to let me know when that happens!?

During this pandemic, Saturday has been takeout night almost every week (maybe every week, actually). 98% of our other meals are eaten/made at home with the exception of during our vacation week when we treated ourself to extra takeout. I have had zero desire to eat in a public environment (yes I know we could eat outside but have you been outside in FL these days? ugh.)


Yep, we always eat something for dessert around here. It was how I was raised so . . . it is what it is! BUT usually it’s something small, like a square of dark chocolate which yes, even the kids like. I am dreading the influx of Halloween candy because I would much rather them eat sweets without 935734 additives colors and HFCS, but I also don’t want to be that mom who takes it all away . . . sigh.

(Will there be Halloween this year? Maybe not! I wouldn’t be sad . . .)

((Our go-to brand is Theo and my favorite variety of theirs is the Sea Salt.))

so good

1-2x/week we do ice cream or popsicles instead. I buy Haagen Dazs or Talenti gelato most of the time because . . . YOLO. Josh has a Friday ice cream bar ritual and sometimes I jump onto that bandwagon as well.


I am pretty happy with our current eating routines. I really have no desire to follow any strict diet or meal plan (readers may recall that I dove headfirst into paleo for about a year in 2015). I DO wish I could eat more slowly and mindfully (I know, such a cliche, but seriously). I could also use a few more healthy and easy lunch choices, now that I think about it. So suggestions welcome!

Has your eating changed during the pandemic? Anyone else a paleo ex-pat? Am I missing out on any amazing dark chocolate brands? LET ME KNOW!


  • Reply Lee August 18, 2020 at 7:11 am

    Theo Sea Salt is my current fave as well! Plus, I’ve been to their (tiny, awesome) factory in Seattle so that makes me even more of a fan. Your menus/meals are always super impressive to me. I feel like we eat a lot more hot dogs/sloppy joes/tater tots than most families who post their meals, lol!

  • Reply gwinne August 18, 2020 at 7:24 am

    This is timely for me. My weight has been creeping up steadily and is now higher than it’s ever been, which my primary care doc pointed out last week. I have TRIED to do something about it and can manage to lose a couple pounds that immediately come back; I’d need to operate at a pretty serious calorie deficit to make a real change and honestly as much as I don’t like the number on my scale…. I like food and have reasonably good eating habits. I’m mostly Paleo (I do eat some grains, like oatmeal). Other than cutting alcohol (this month!) and eating ice cream most days there’s not much I can easily, happily cut from my diet. (I stopped having sugar in coffee a couple years ago, for example). It occurred to me this week that perhaps one of the problems is that the number that’s been stuck in my head is my weight when I arrived at my job (when I was 32!) which was on the very very low side of healthy. Cue the angsty years that followed. Infertility, pregnancy, and I lose a ton of weight (like, an unhealthy amount) while breastfeeding. So….I need to do some mental gymnastics to figure out what my “correct” 47-year-old weight should be. And maybe I just don’t wear those red pants anymore…

    • Reply JESSICA JAFFE August 18, 2020 at 8:57 am

      Lots of similarities here for me, Gwinne. I’ve also just reached the top of my weight scale (haven’t been this weight for some time), I’m the same age as you, and I actually eat quite a bit less than the meal plan above. I cut out alcohol altogether for a week to see if this was a trigger (I’d been making a cocktail for fun some nights), and I actually gained another two pounds during that time!! UGH. I don’t eat any added sugar, eat mostly protein and veggies and some fruit and I cut out all bread during the pandemic. So not sure what the hell to do?!? I’ve also gained weight around my midsection, which is totally new for me. I’m guessing this is age related. I’m also starving all the time and fighting the urge to eat. It sucks.

      After doing mostly video workouts (30 Day Shreds) and taking daily walks with my dog, I invested in a Peloton (since I am not going to the gym or Orange Theory anymore, and saving that money). Maybe this will help? IDK. I might write my own post about this and solicit feedback…but appreciate that someone else is having the same struggle!

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 18, 2020 at 9:10 am

        I honestly think lifting heavy (like using 2 x 25 lb weights for lower body work) helps a lot. NOT with weight control per se but with body composition. I don’t feel super ‘skinny’ but I feel fit. I weigh the same as what I weighed since . . honestly age 15 or so. I eat a fair amount, I know! I am fairly conscious of portion size b/c I think in some ways that matters more than WHAT is being eaten. I have tried to track calories on occasion but absolutely can’t stand it b/c it feels so limiting and honestly very inaccurate.

        • Reply Jessica Jaffe August 18, 2020 at 9:32 am

          Good point, SHU. When I was doing Orange Theory, I was using larger weights regularly and I did like the toning I saw then. (I also liked feeling strong!) Peloton also has routines with larger weights, I just need to order the weights so I have them here. I only have 5 lbs right now.

          My portion sizes are small. πŸ™ Maybe I need to overhaul my diet and do all Paleo or something to shake it up…

          • gwinne August 18, 2020 at 9:48 am

            Jessica, I really do think some of it is just age and (peri)menopause. I also have the mid-section fat and never did before. I’ve also tried cutting alcohol and not had real effect. sigh.

          • Sarah Hart-Unger August 18, 2020 at 11:09 am

            I did enjoy Paleo for quite a while! It’s definitely very unprocessed. It was PRICEY and I felt bad about the environmental consequence of more meat (which I definitely did eat more of on Paleo).

    • Reply Gillian August 18, 2020 at 11:16 am

      There is also a real hormonal affect in the mid-late 40s. The drop in estrogen leads to more insulin resistance which makes it so much harder to lose weight. This is actually a HUGE part of my practice. So many women struggle with weight at this time in life.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 18, 2020 at 11:38 am

        I believe it and I’m scared 😱 I plan on taking the OCP I’m on as long as I safely can. The hormonal stability has been wonderful.

        • Reply Gillian August 18, 2020 at 12:22 pm

          Yes, why not hang on to that estrogen! here are other things we can do. The one purely lifestyle change that I think women in their 40s and 50s benefit from the most is intermittent fasting/time restricted eating. I do it myself most days and I just feel so much better.

          • Sarah Hart-Unger August 18, 2020 at 12:53 pm

            I generally eat within a 12 hour window naturally but could certainly go shorter in the future if I had to πŸ™‚

      • Reply Jessica Jaffe August 18, 2020 at 1:52 pm

        Ugh, this seems to be what is happening to me! What do your patients do to successfully fight this? Curious what works (if anything)…

        • Reply Gillian August 20, 2020 at 7:19 am

          @Jessica, as above time restricted eating (there is data for the 12 hour fast SHU mentions, but if people are really struggling I recommend a window as short as 8 hours), and a real focus on whole foods with little carb especially in the evenings. Resistance training helps. For those really struggling there are some newer medications that can be very helpful. After Labor Day I am launching a blog and this topic is going to be my first substantive post!

    • Reply omdg August 18, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      Only thing that really helps me for weight loss is not making a “real” dinner. Instead I’ll have a 300 calorie snack of fruit, cottage cheese, or something like that. No ice cream allowed, except once a week, and I make myself go out to get it as a family excursion. If I eat a “real” dinner, which is more like 700-800 calories, I immediately start gaining weight, which makes so much sense if you do the math. Oh, I also had to cut out all snacking, and I eat dinner at 5. But it seems to be working, at least for now. I have always done so much better when lunch was my main meal of the day, but it’s hard to accomplish with my job when I am in the OR.

  • Reply Gillian August 18, 2020 at 7:30 am

    I am afraid the resort yogurt is so much better because it involves probably a lot more sugar than one might care to think about. Sugar and salt seem to be the two big things that make food eaten out taste better, that and not having to make it yourself.

    • Reply Alyssa August 18, 2020 at 8:19 am

      “…not having to make it yourself,” amen! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Gillian August 18, 2020 at 11:15 am

      There is also a real hormonal affect in the mid-late 40s. The drop in estrogen leads to more insulin resistance which makes it so much harder to lose weight. This is actually a HUGE part of my practice. So many women struggle with weight at this time in life.

      • Reply Gillian August 18, 2020 at 11:16 am

        oops, meant for above.

  • Reply KGC August 18, 2020 at 8:11 am

    Back when I actually went into the office, I took a salad every single day for lunch – I usually prepped a big salad batch on Sunday and divided into containers for the week. It’s easy once it’s done, but it may be more prep/manual labor than you’re looking for? My salads were huge, too, and always included a protein (usually rotisserie chicken from Costco) so that I wouldn’t be starving again at 2pm. For some reason, I can’t get into the groove of salads while WFH but maybe someday I’ll get back to it.

    We also do a lot of ‘bowl’ meals here for dinner – similar to your salmon bowls – so that every person likes at least 2 things that go into them and people can pick and choose. We have a few different options, including taco bowls, Mediterranean lamb or turkey bowls (newly-discovered and I’m obsessed with the turmeric rice that goes in them), Ramen-type bowls (this is more soup than the others), sesame ginger chicken-veggie bowls, pulled pork and succotash bowls, etc. Most of them involve rice or quinoa, a protein, a variety of veggies, and a sauce. Again, there’s some prep involved but I’ve found that once it’s prepped these can last a few different meals since all the ingredients just need to be thrown together and warmed up and can be combined in different ways! Maybe something to try every so often – make a big batch on the weekend and then eat them for lunch all week long?

    Thanks for the meal rundown – I love seeing these little glimpses into other people’s lives.

  • Reply Hannah N. August 18, 2020 at 8:27 am

    In list form:

    1. PB&J is still in my lunch circulation (it’s easy and still so good to me!).
    2. Ugh same with the rice mess!! Oatmeal for my kids seems to be another meal that creates SO much more mess than others.
    3. Endangered Species caramel sea salt dark chocolate is AMAZING!

  • Reply August 18, 2020 at 8:34 am

    Do you find it difficult to work out on an empty stomach? I am so hungry first thing in the morning. But trying to control my creeping Covid weight. Also, do you drink more coffee later?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 18, 2020 at 9:11 am

      nope, doesn’t bother me at all. and is more efficient!

  • Reply Jamie August 18, 2020 at 8:59 am

    When my kids were small and the messes were frequent, it was helpful to remind them to keep their knees under the table. If their knees are under the table, their mouths are most likely *over* the table. If their knees are swinging around sideways, their faces/hands often follow, which means a spilled forkful of rice winds up on the floor. There’s still spillage, because rice is messy, but it’s quicker to wipe off the table than to clean up a big swath of floor. (Don’t get me started on the person who thought beige carpet in the dining room was a good idea.) They learned pretty quickly to respond to “knees!” as a painless reminder.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 18, 2020 at 9:11 am

      haha cameron is literally always almost falling off of his chair and sometimes ACTUALLY falling off so maybe that solves some of the mystery. i will need to work on this “knees” concept!!

      • Reply KGC August 18, 2020 at 10:13 am

        You’ve mentioned that Cameron also had trouble sitting for virtual school last spring. What about having him stand for meals? At the table, with everyone else (if you’re eating together), but just standing instead of sitting? It’s entirely possible that this would just provide him an easier opportunity to move around/run away, but it also maybe takes away the confinement of having to sit down? Just a thought!

        Also, spilled rice that has been left to dry overnight on the floor is INCREDIBLY satisfying to vacuum the next morning =) Not that I speak from experience of leaving my children’s messes on the floors that long…

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 18, 2020 at 11:10 am

          Sitting is not his greatest talent. LOL. That’s a good idea, we could try it . . . he may be resistant but the chair gymnastics are insane!

          And I have definitely noted that the longer you wait before cleaning the rice the better. HOWEVER in FL I would not dare leave it overnight b/c ANTS BUGS ETC UGH.

          • KGC August 18, 2020 at 11:57 am

            Haha – I almost added ‘leaving rice overnight comes with the risk of bugs!’ but then was embarrassed about the fact that I actually do weigh cleaning up not-dry rice from hardwood floors vs. risking ants. But my favorite solution is when my SIL’s dog is over and takes care of all the dropped crumbs for us!

    • Reply Erika August 18, 2020 at 9:13 am

      This is such sage advice. The kind I can’t believe I haven’t thought of before!

  • Reply Erika August 18, 2020 at 9:12 am

    I’m not sure why the hotel yogurt is so good, but my current home version comes close (in my opinion!). I use Siggi’s plain yogurt and add in just a bit of honey then top with granola, chia seeds and really good berries. Even the nonfat Siggi’s plain yogurt feels decadent, and the whole milk version is even more so. Now that I’m hooked on plain yogurt with a bit of sweetener, I vastly prefer it to the pre-sweetened and pre-flavored kind!

    • Reply M August 18, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      Siggi’s yogurt is life. I also like the Siggi’s berry and strawberry rhubarb. No added sugar – just fruit. Perfect sweetness for me.

  • Reply Grateful Kae August 18, 2020 at 9:41 am

    I also really feel no desire to follow a strict diet currently at all. Several years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to get super lean and in shape, so along with programmed strength training/workouts I counted macros, really watched my nutrition, etc. It lasted about 6 months and then I basically was like, you know, this isn’t worth it to me. I’m at a healthy weight, for almost 37 I generally look just fine (not perfect at all of course, but fine), and it’s just not worth being so meticulous with everything. I enjoy eating popcorn and candy with my kids on a movie night and sharing nachos and a drink with my husband or having pizza with my family, etc. I also like snacks. πŸ™‚ I try to be generally mindful and eat a healthy, balanced diet overall but I no longer have been stressing about watching every little thing. Good enough is good enough. Life is short. πŸ™‚

  • Reply The Quarantine Five (or so) | Too Many Fish to Fry August 18, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    […] of the quarantine. She’s recently been posting an interesting “habits” feature. The latest one on eating habits–and an accompanying comment by Gwinne–prompted me to come back here for a fairly […]

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns August 18, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    I’m not into super restrictive diets either. I have celiac so that means no gluten for me so that knocks out a whole lot of sweets and processed foods. I have done weight watchers in the past and will do it again after I have the 2nd baby if the weight isn’t coming off. I like that program because you can eat anything you want – it’s just about portion sizes and making choices (like don’t have wine AND dessert – unless you want to blow through all of your ‘extra’ points in one meal). It always resets my portion sizes which tend to creep up if I’m not careful. I know I am going to end of with GDM because I can’t seem to get off prednisone (it’s basically my only option to prevent RA flares during pregnancy) so I know my diet will be really restrictive in 4 weeks when I hit 28 weeks so I am kind of giving myself a pass right now and allowing myself to have sweets and treats. I’ve only gained about 10 pounds this pregnancy – but started the pregnancy at a higher weight so I’m not too surprised my weight gain has been fairly low. So I would like to keep my total gain around 20 so I don’t have a ton to lose but I’m also trying to give myself grace right now!

    My meals are incredibly boring. Breakfast is either cheerioes w/ a banana and milk or toast w/ pb+jam or avocado if we have some in the house. Lunches are typically leftovers. I make dinner about 3 times/week and then eat up the leftovers between lunches and the nights I don’t cook dinner. I try to snack on fruit in the evening but sometimes get tempted by the ice cream my husband buys. He has amazing self control and can eat the smallest amount of ice cream and feel satisfied. That is NOT the case for me! One thing that has changed while WFH is that I will often have a little side salad around 9:30-10. If I ate a salad at that time in the office I would get SO many comments. But no one is here to judge me for eating a salad in the morning and I’d rather have that than yogurt (I have had a major aversion to yogurt during this pregnancy but hope that goes away when I have to follow the GDM diet since it’s a good protein-heavy snack).

    We are finally at the point where our son eats what we eat almost every night, unless it’s something really spicy. I always give him yogurt or cottage cheese, apple sauce, and milk so I know he’ll always eat his sides and his milk. He is super picky, though, so dinner time is my least favorite part of the day as he usually won’t even try things!

  • Reply Megan Stepaniak August 18, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    I am a total routine eater so my days look pretty similar. I love making a big batch of egg muffins for my breakfast each week with broccoli and black beans in them. I used to eat Chipotle bowl nearly every day for lunch when I worked at the office but now that I’m home, lunch is a smaller meal. My other options in addition to turkey sandwich like you are: tortilla with cheese and black beans or caprese salad which has become a summer fav.

  • Reply Coco August 18, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    interesting to see your eating habits. I think we’ve changed our routine pre and post covid. pre covid our most important meal was dinner as it’s the only meal that we eat as a family. It was okay but often time both husband and I feel too full after dinner. So now we shifted it to lunch, our most elaborated meal and dinner we wing it. Husband often doesn’t eat dinner or eat some of kids dinner (soup quesadilla has been a win for the last two weeks), and I usually make something simple or just have another bowl of oatmeal which is my fav meal in the world.

    I also don’t like strict meal plans, tried it and failed because sometime during work day I don’t have mental band witch to make something new or fancy, nor to spend more than 30 min to cook.

    we do follow a mostly plant based approach at home with 2-3 times a week of fish/seafood/egg and always 2 to 3 vegetable dish. I am mostly vegan and throughout the years, husband can practically survive in a vegan diet too but we are not restrictive, if there’s egg in a takeout, we eat it no fuss. We feel the best this way but don’t preach others to do the same. Everyone has the freedom to choose what’s best for them πŸ™‚

  • Reply Natasha August 18, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Welp, my 17 year old son is still the messiest eater in the house.

    I cannot work out on an empty stomach but I do love a good PB&J for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

  • Reply Nadine August 18, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve been obsessed with homemade chocolate peanut butter cups recently. When made with sugar free dark chocolate, they are even moderately healthy.
    Recipe here, put they are so easy you don’t even really need one:

  • Reply Rebecca August 18, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Alter Eco chocolate… many flavours on the darker side and they are delicious!

  • Reply CNM August 19, 2020 at 11:41 am

    About Halloween candy, we let my 8 year old indulge for Halloween and the day after. Then, he is given the option of trading in his remaining candy for ANYTHING at the toy store or book store. (I might have to put a $ limit on it this year, but years’ past he’s always picked something … random and inexpensive, like fancy slime or an art kit.) This works well because by the day after Halloween, he’s already eaten his favorite candies and only the “second tier” candy remains. He likes it, we like it, WIN WIN!

  • Reply Jessica August 20, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    OMG I also hoard leftovers for a second dinner!! haha

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.