Nutrition services

Local Nutrition Services See Demand Rise During COVID-19 Closures

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Since the start of the pandemic, Kayleigh Farrell of A Gut Feeling Nutrition Services in Fort McMurray has seen more people ask her about healthier eating. It was surprising. In her experience, historically stressful times see people stray from healthy eating.

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“It was such a wake-up call for so many people when it came to their health and what they were doing right now,” Farrell said.

With the pandemic, some people are looking to stay as healthy as possible. A lot of people have found it expensive, and Farrell said the financial commitment to his program has kept some people from using them.

She has tried to adapt her business to the current economy, such as working with items typically found in a food bank basket and offering free services.

“I used to be pretty rigid with the programming I was offering and it’s just not realistic right now,” Farrell said. “It doesn’t have to be elitist, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need huge disposable income to eat healthy food for your family.”

Danielle Todd, Northern Zone Registered Dietitian with Alberta Health Services, is not surprised that people are thinking about food and healthy eating when so many people are spending more time indoors. Todd said she has received calls from community agencies with clients looking for meal planning and healthy eating ideas, although she is reluctant to blame the trend for the COVID-19 closures .

“I think a lot of people really think about what’s important and really want to keep our health in mind as much as possible,” she said.

The growing interest in healthy eating also comes as a survey released last November suggests that Canadians have been gaining weight and neglecting nutritional health since the onset of the first wave of COVID-19 in March 2020.

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The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found that a third of 1,516 respondents have gained weight since the start of the pandemic while 15% have lost weight during the same period. Another third of respondents said they exercise less and 16 percent exercise more.

Sarah Hennessey, a resident of Fort McMurray, started working with Farrell in 2015. Hennessey learned about the impact food can have on fighting illnesses, depression and anxiety, all of which have had a big impact. during the pandemic.

“There are days when you’re just ashore and wondering why this is happening, the pandemic sucks and I don’t like it, and yes you ordered pizza,” she said. “We love pizza nights on Friday nights, but other than that we try to stick to a fairly full diet during the week.”

Everyone’s situation is different and it’s important for people to think about what’s practical and achievable for their situation, Todd said. For example, finding a balance between buying fresh produce and frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.

She said many people think of food and meals together as a way to connect socially. It changes a lot during the pandemic, it comes down to what people can do with food to bring comfort and tradition, she said.

“It maybe really matters to people whether it’s consciously or not,” Todd said.

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