nutrition and wellness 1

Navigating Nutrition and Wellness During Times of Crisis

April 9, 2020

Nutrition is essential for our health and wellness. The foods we eat play countless roles in our body, some of which include providing energy, healing wounds, and supporting our immune system. Not only is it important to focus on your nutrition and wellness on a daily basis, but it is also even more to priorities your nutrition and wellness during times of crisis.

Bariatric surgery patients are taught early in their journey about the importance of nutrition and wellness for weight loss. Before and after surgery, patients work hard to enhance their nutrition choices and food behaviors by pre-planning meals, eating mindfully, tracking their food intake, and more. But how do these habits translate during times of crisis?

Nutrition and Wellness During Times of Crisis

In times of emergency, it can be particularly challenging to focus on nutrition in the same manner as when situations are normal. Access to stores and availability of certain foods may prove to be unpredictable, daily routines may be non-existent, and stress levels may be high. If these feelings ring true for you, be kind to yourself and consider loosening the reigns.

Reduce stress levels by modifying self-imposed expectations; for example, it may not be optimal to try to lose that last ten stubborn pounds during times of crisis. Instead, transition your goals towards maintaining healthy nutrition and wellness habits including, aiming to eat balanced meals at regular intervals, staying hydrated, and getting sleep.

As nutrition is a vital part of wellness, it is important to carve out a time for planning meals and snacks as best as able.

When considering what to purchase or make, look for recipes and meals using ingredients from the pantry or freezer, especially if there is potential for lengthy periods of time between grocery trips.

If you are able to purchase fresh foods, aim for options that have a longer shelf life such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, oranges, apples, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, to name a few. If regular cooking is not an option, opt for high-protein frozen meals, canned or pouched meats, canned soups and chili, and protein shakes or bars. 

Appetite and Cravings

During pressured times, emotions may fluctuate, and with that, appetite and cravings may too. Some might find themselves eating due to stress or anxiety, while others might find they have no enthusiasm for food. Managing emotions and practicing self-care is just as important during challenging times as it is during times of normalcy. Eating right, exercising, getting adequate sleep, talking to loved ones, reading, or creating art are all ways to manage stress and anxiety levels positively and productively.

Take care of yourself as best as possible but, if you are feeling emotional and need a cookie, have a cookie, but don’t beat yourself up over it.

These difficult times will pass, and eventually, routines will return. For now, stay strong and safe.

Tuna Salad = tuna + relish/pickles + mayo
Lentil Soup = lentils + veggies + onions + garlic + broth
Curry = curry paste + coconut milk + veggies/meat/beans
Meatballs = ground meat + egg + spices
Hot Dog (no bun needed) = sausage + sauerkraut + mustard + sautéed peppers
Cheeseburger (no bun needed) = meat/veggie patty + cheese + onion + pickles/relish + ketchup + mustard
Pizza = cauliflower crust + tomato sauce/pesto + veggies/meat/cheese
Chili = meat + beans + veggies + canned tomatoes + broth + cumin/chili powder + garlic
Scramble or Omelet = eggs + sausage/ham + cheese + veggies/spinach
Taco Bowl = meat + peppers/onions + salsa + cheese + avocado
Vegetable Soup = veggies + onion + garlic + broth + jar of tomato sauce
Picnic Meal = olives + hummus + smoked salmon/deli turkey + pickles + whole wheat crackers + cheese
Stir-Fry = meat/seafood + veggies + soy sauce

Popular pantry staples*:

(*Dependent on your food preferences and nutrition macro goals.)

  1. Canned meats and fish (chicken, tuna, sardines, crab, salmon)
  2. Peanut and nut butter
  3. Nuts and seeds
  4. Whole grains such as quinoa, barley, etc.
  5. Beans
  6. Lentils
  7. Canned tomatoes
  8. Broth
  9. Canned fruit in water
  10. Jarred foods- olives, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, etc.
  11. Whole-grain crackers
  12. Nut milk
  13. Protein shakes
  14. Protein bars
  15. Canned soups/chili
  16. Baking flours (wheat, almond, coconut, etc.)
  17. Canned coconut milk
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Megan Moore


Megan Moore, RDN, CD is a registered dietitian with over 10 years of experience specializing in bariatric nutrition. In her virtual private practice and as the best-selling author of "The Complete Bariatric Cookbook and Meal Plan," she has supported thousands of individuals on their post-bariatric surgery weight loss and wellness journeys. She empowers individuals to reclaim their vitality and health by offering personalized nutrition guidance and support, both pre-and post-operatively. Megan is a passionate advocate of the bariatric community and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with clients through speaking engagements, social media content (@mybariatricdietitian), and her website, Read more articles by Megan!