How to Stay Healthy During Quarantine with Nutrition Tips by Grace Goodwin Dwyer, Nutrition for Women

How to Stay Healthy During Quarantine with Nutrition Tips by Grace Goodwin Dwyer, Nutrition for Women

How to Stay Healthy During Quarantine with Nutrition Tips

by Grace Goodwin Dwyer, MS, RD, LDN, CLC
Nutrition for Women

Brief Introduction/Tell Us About yourself:

I'm a Registered Dietitian who specializes in women's health. My passion is working with moms and moms-to-be - empowering them to feel confident and healthy. I have experience in a range of different settings (clinics, hospitals, public health) and currently work in private practice. I'm also a Certified Lactation Counselor, and I love helping moms navigate their diets during lactation. 

I was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area, though I've lived up and down the East coast and currently call Nashville, TN "home." Outside of work, I'm a vinyasa yoga teacher. 

How did you become passionate about healthy eating?

I realized the powerful connection between food and wellbeing when I was 15 years old and developed some severe food sensitivities. My pursuit of identifying what helped me feel better led to a curiosity in helping others feel better through food. "Feeling better" can have different meanings for different people - but in general, most of us want to be able to live a life free from pain, fatigue, and worry. A healthful eating pattern can support all of that!

If you could persuade people to change three things about their diet during these challenging times, what would they be?

These times are certainly a huge upheaval to our normal routines, which, for many of us, means an interference with our typical eating patterns. Over the past few weeks I've spoken to people on both ends of the spectrum - for example, some feel like they're snacking constantly, while others feel they're hardly eating. Here are three quick pieces of advice I have during social distancing: 


1) If you haven't already, try to establish a sense of routine. If you were a breakfast eater prior to working from home, make sure you're still waking up and starting your day with breakfast. Your routine may include other self-care strategies, like a specific time for movement, time away from your computer/phone, or conversations on the phone with family and friends.

2) Lose the "scarcity" mindset. It's unsettling to see foods fly off the shelves as people stock up for social distancing, but keep in mind that we are not experiencing a shortage in our national food supply. Perceiving food as scarce can trigger abnormal eating behaviors, ultimately leading to more stress. 

3) Give yourself some compassion. If you've been drawn to comfort foods lately (like chocolate chip cookies or your favorite childhood cereal), realize that these types of cravings are a normal response to stress. Enjoying some comforting foods is absolutely OK, so long as we're also managing the root cause of our stress in other ways. 

Most of the world is practicing social distancing and working from home, how important is it to hydrate while doing so?

Hydration is always important, whether you're out and about or holed up at home. Being adequately hydrating is the cornerstone of gut health, metabolism, cognition, and athletic performance. A minimum of 2 L (8-9 cups) for adult females and 2.5 L (10-11 cups) for adult males is a helpful starting point. However, depending on your activity level and body composition (i.e., how much muscle you have), you may need more. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may feel they need more, too. Drinking to your thirst level can help guide you. 

What are 3 at-home x kitchen must-haves for people practicing social distancing?

Three kitchen must-haves are a sheet pan (for easy one-pan dinners, like salmon plus a variety of roasted vegetables), a crockpot (for cozy, satisfying stews that you can set up in the morning and then forget), and a blender (to whip up smoothies, an excellent way to get nutrients through both fresh and frozen fruits and veggies). 

What are 5 ‘must stock’ foods each of our readers should stock up on from the grocery store during social distancing?

  • Chickpeas are rich in protein and fiber, which makes them filling. Include them in stir fries, stews, on top of salads, whipped into hummus, or baked into blondie bars. 
  • Canned coconut milk is nutrient-dense and versatile. It's a super satisfying base for curries, soups, and stews. You can also use it in baking, smoothies, and to cook hot cereal, like oatmeal or quinoa. 
  • Nut butter (like almond, peanut, sunflower, etc.) is helpful for making so-so snacks into great snacks because it adds protein and fat for longer lasting energy. Spread it onto fruit, crackers, toast, celery, or anything else that sounds good. Nut butter can also be added to noodles and stir-fries for flavor (think pad thai), and in baked goods as an oil substitute. 
  • Frozen fruits & vegetables are equally as healthful as their fresh counterparts, but last far longer. Having a stash of frozen produce means that you'll always have a veggie or fruit on hand.
  • Chia seeds can be added to just about anything and are an incredibly helpful food for plant-based eaters. Just a small serving is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium. 

What are some ways to boost your immunity amid the coronavirus outbreak?

There are no special supplements or foods that have been proven to prevent COVID. However, you can definitely support your immune system with a few tips. Gut health plays a key role in immunity, since so much of our immune system is intertwined our gastrointestinal system. A healthy gut relies on a wide variety of fiber (the more plants, the better!), stress-relief, regular movement, and adequate sleep.

Any at-home detox recipes or secrets?

One of my own healthy eating strategies is NOT eating in front of screens. That means no TV, phone, or computer while I'm enjoying a meal. Eating intentionally like this helps you chew more completely (therefore, digest better) and have a better sense of when you're full. Mindless eating tends to cause us to over-eat because we're not fully savoring our food. If no screens feels daunting, try switching to a podcast or music - though your ears will be busy, at least your eyes can then attend to your meal. 

What is your favorite quarantine snack?

My favorite snack during self-isolation has been homemade muffins. More time at home means more time to bake, and there are so many amazing plant-based, nutrient-dense recipes online! My favorite recent creation incorporated lemon zest, frozen blueberries, wheat bran, and flax seed. I spread almond butter on top to make sure that my blood sugar stays stable, thanks to the carb + protein combination. 

What’s one simple plant-based dish our readers can recreate at home, less than 30 minutes and eat multiple times throughout the week?

Thai curries are one of my go-to dinners. They're full of veggies, quick, and ridiculously delicious. Minimalist Baker has several great versions - for example, this yellow pumpkin curry. 

For breakfast, I highly recommend coconut quinoa porridge. You can make a week's worth in one pot and then dish it up throughout the week with different toppings, like fruit, chia seeds, coconut flakes, or fruit. Quinoa is high in protein, which makes for a filling breakfast. 

Plant based living is becoming more and more popular. When eating a mostly plant based / vegetarian diet, are there certain foods to focus on to make sure we’re getting enough nutrients and protein?

I'm a huge fan of the plant-based diet for both health and environmental reasons. With an entirely plant-based diet, the nutrients you're most likely to lack are vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamins B12 and vitamin D are only found in significant quantities from animal-based foods, so I recommend that vegans take these in supplement form as well as through fortified products (like nondairy milk). 

Iron does naturally occur in numerous plants but in a form that's less bioavailable than it is in meat, so it's important to eat iron-rich plants consistently, like: beans, dark chocolate, lentils, spinach, tofu and other soy, kidney beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, and potatoes. Omega-3 fatty acids occur in some plants, like walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Similarly, the omega-3 fatty acids that are most easily “usable” to the body are only found in animal foods like fish, so it's important to eat these nuts and seeds consistently. Algae-based omega-3 supplements are an alternative.

To get enough protein on a plant-based diet, ensure that you're including some sort of protein rich food at every meal or snack. Nuts, seeds, legumes (beans, chickpeas, peas), soy (tofu, tempeh), and quinoa are all good plant-based protein sources. You can also opt for a plant-based protein powder as a supplement. 

Do you have any plant-based nutrition tips to fight coronavirus?

Avoiding nutrient deficiencies is important for a healthy immune system to fight any virus or bacteria. For example, vitamin D plays a role in controlling multiple parts of the body's immune response. If you're plant-based, avoid deficiencies by eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains, and carefully supplementing where you may have gaps.  

Speaking of plant based, what are some of the benefits of drinking chlorophyll water / benefits of liquid chlorophyll?

Multiple studies have found that chlorophyllin has antioxidant effects to help reduce damage from radiation and carcinogens. 

What’s one of your favorite organic/natural supplements or vitamins you recommended?

(I don't recommend any specific supplements/vitamins without meeting someone first so that I can assess what they need)

What are three things you are most grateful for during these uncertain times?

During these uncertain times, I'm very grateful for my family, my health, and the fact that we have so much technology to connect us and enable us to continue working (e.g., seeing patients virtually). 

During these uncertain times how do you stay positive? What’s your secret?

Yoga has been a very helpful force in my life for staying positive because it requires presence of mind. Rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, yoga helps train your mind to be right in the moment, which tends to lead to much more positive thoughts.

Any self-care, self-care or self-development tips for our readers?

When it comes to nutrition, really listen to your gut - both literally and figuratively. Be an observer of what foods make you feel great when you eat them - and then keep eating these. Beware of any diet that tells you to cut out entire food groups or that promises anything that seems too good to be true. Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods and managing your stress is what has been proven to work! 

Any favorite health / nutrition podcasts or books you recommend to our readers?

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch (a book for people who are tired of dieting and feel like nothing works)

Run Fast, Eat Slow by Elyse Kopecky and Shalane Flanagan (a book about nutrition for athletes/active people)

The First Forty Days by Heng Ou (a book about postpartum nutrition) 

Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Facebook, etc)

Instagram: @dietitian4women


My website & blog: 

Anything else you want to add? Any other health, wellness or nutrition tips? 

Stay safe and take care of yourselves! If there are any nutrition goals you have like cooking more often, trying new recipes, choosing more plant-based foods, or eating more mindfully, this time of introspection and slowing down is a great time to start. 
Grace Goodwin Dwyer, MS, RD, LDN, CLC
Nutrition for Women
ig: @dietitian4women