Registered dietitian, fitness expert, and entrepreneur Melissa Rifkin has some advice for those people trying to avoid building bad habits while on lockdown.
Fitness Expert and Entrepreneur
What do you do?
I am a registered dietitian of 14 years, currently on maternity leave and expecting my first child on April 28. I was working in bariatrics at Montefiore Medical Center. Additionally, I run my own private practice, Melissa Rifkin Nutrition LLC, and have the successful instagram handle @Confessionofadietitian. I also work for and have helped develop the app RISE for weight management. An avid runner, having ran two marathons, I look forward to getting back to my longer runs, post-baby. I’m also a spinning instructor, and lover of yoga. Huge fan of simple, yet healthy recipes and cooking for my family.
What are some tips for people to avoid developing bad food habits while spending more time at home? What types of meals stretch longer?
I never like to label “good” and “bad” because we could all work on improving our eating habits, in some capacity. Structure would be my first answer in establishing a more healthy lifestyle and pattern of eating while things seems to be so chaotic and challenging. Have a routine: wake up, and have breakfast within one to two hours. Be sure to include a lean protein source which keeps us feeling satiated for longer (eggs, milk, nut butter, yogurt), as well as a complex carbohdratie like whole grains, whole wheat bread, etc. Then, four to six hours later have a lunch. What’s helpful is preparing this ahead of time, which prevents mindless snacking. And then, of course, dinner four to six hours later. Getting kids involved or even spouses is a great way to bond, but to also share in the love of nutritious eating habits. Snacks of course can be in-between meals, and I recommend a small fruit, cut-up vegetables, string cheese, low fat popcorn, etc.
Recently, people have been craving comfort food versus healthy, nutritious food. What is your best advice for those struggling with finding a balance?
Eat it! Allow yourself one to two times a week for your favorite meal. We are in unprecented times, we have never seen anything like this. If having Mom’s macaroni and cheese helps you make it through the day, there is no harm in that. We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of our favorite, comforting meals. However, I would not make this an everyday situation; in fact, finding a healthier alternative to our favorite meals can also be very exciting and fulfulling.
What are your go-to/must-have food items while spending more time at home?
I like to ensure I have eggs, milk, cheese, bread, flour, fruits, vegetables (fresh or frozen), lean proteins, and nuts. The rest can wait. But, with these “staples” as I like to call them, I know that I can have a nutritious meal that keeps me feeling satiated for longer.
How has finding healthy alternatives helped you? How can it help others, especially during this time?
I love to find healthier alternatives. It certainly can help in your mood and waistline. Non-nutritive foods have been shown to cause or worsen depression, and right now with how many of us are feeling, that’s the last place we need to go! Because we may have a bit more time on our hands, revising recipes and finding a more nutritious alternative to our favorite meals could be the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle while in the confines of our homes.
What advice can you give to those who struggle with cooking?
Certainly try to find simple recipes online, but if that’s not for you, many companies deliver fresh and delicious meals. I happen to love Splendid Spoon, which has the most delicious soups, as well as Perfomance Kitchen, which has hearty meals that are all under 500 calories and low in sugar and sodium.