The COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine restrictions kept us from spending time with our friends and family. We were restricted to staying home and practicing social distancing. Now that the world has been making a slow and steady recovery, we find ourselves wanting to make up for lost bonding time during the last couple of months.
We especially struggled with bonding with our family members living in long-term and assisted living facilities. The coronavirus is very risky for seniors and patients with long-term illnesses or disabilities. This is why the facilities were closed off to visitors. But now that the country is making a slow and steady recovery, we can visit again our loved ones in these facilities, provided that certain safety measures are enforced. We can bond again with our loved ones. One of the best ways to do that is through comfort food.
We’ve done a lot of home cooking during the quarantine. But no one can deny that we also miss buying food from restaurants, especially fast-food joints. It’s even understandable when we consider the type of food usually served in these facilities. But indulging in unhealthy food is never good. It’s even worse now with the pandemic.
Comfort vs. Healthy
In typical fast-food fashion, you may venture to a McDonald’s or Burger King and order the standard meal: a double cheeseburger with a side of fries and a milkshake. Nothing like a good amount of salt and sugar could bring you back to your childhood, when calories, and sodium and sugar intake were the least of your worries. But consuming such a meal also means consuming about 2,000 calories. That is already a day’s worth of saturated fat and more than the recommended sodium intake per day.
Now, you may opt for a salad instead. After all, with a deadly virus wafting in the air, you do want your family’s immune system in top shape. Something as healthy as an all-veggie salad and water may do the trick. It’s significantly low on sodium and sugar, and it could amount to only about 260 calories. But on days when you want to rekindle good memories with your family, do we really want a salad? Probably not.
It’s important to note that you can have both—comfort and healthy. You just need to know how.
Consider the Alternatives
When you crave for fast food, it usually entails something meaty with lots of carbs. If you are craving a classic fried chicken from KFC—straight out of its bucket, of course—but are concerned with the calories, you can opt for something else. Perhaps a chicken that is grilled or baked. It may not taste exactly the same, but at least it has not been doused in oil.
There are many alternatives to the food you crave. If you want to share Chinese food with your loved ones in a long-term facility, you can opt for the steamed dumplings and avoid the fried ones. If a taco is what you’re looking for, go for a burrito instead. If it is pizza that you want, make sure to get the thin-crust for the lower carb intake. The list goes on. After all, we can assume that dumplings, tacos, and the like are not usually served in the cafeteria of the healthcare facilities.
A Little Bit of Everything
If the alternatives are not enough for you, you can have whatever food you want. All you need to do is to mind the quantity. The golden rule is this: say no to supersize. The cashier taking your order may tell you that upsizing your meal will cost you a few measly bucks, but it will even be more economical if you say no.
You may find yourself ordering a burger, chicken, fries, ice cream—the works. But that is all right. You can share them with your grandparents, or you can eat the leftovers at another time.
Another key tip to eating smart at a fast-food restaurant is steering clear of high-calorie drinks. A tall cup of strawberry milkshake may be good and all, but if you pair that with a stacked burger…well, that is asking for trouble. Sodas and juices are not so innocent, either. A 20 oz. soda could have about 230 calories. A 20 oz. juice has even more—320 calories. So consider opting for a seltzer, unsweetened iced tea, or plain water instead. After all, when eating fast food, the real star of the show should be the food and not the drink.
Eating good, comfort food together is a tried and tested way of bonding with families. It could be a way for us to express our love for our family members that we haven’t gotten to visit for a long time. What’s important is that we always take extra precautions to stay eating healthy.