Health and Nutrition 101: COVID-19’s Effect on the Environment and Your Health

Gina Cousineau

By Gina Cousineau

As the months go by, we can’t help but see the effects that COVID-19 has had in our lives. As a culinary nutritionist and fitness professional, I know individuals who have embraced the time spent at home with consistent exercise and preparing of meals—and then there are the rest of us.

The ability to order takeout food of any kind from your mobile device round the clock, which often shows up at your door for consumption within the hour, has really catapulted the obesity pandemic during this crisis.

And that doesn’t address the amount of trash generated from these meals. We really need to take stock in the damage that the merging of these pandemics has taken on society, and step back to assess how we might minimize the damage.

In good conscience, I cannot fail to highlight the environmental impact COVID-19 has had in our country. With restrictions being mandated in communities limiting our ability to purchase our supplies in person, this pandemic has propelled our propensity for instant gratification that online shopping provides.

Let’s face it, if I am going to be locked up in my house, I might as well get what I need to be comfortable, right?! But one cannot deny the amount of waste on trash day, when you’re forced to break down the boxes from the prior week’s shopping spree and attempt to fit them into your waste containers.

On the health side of it, when we consider the concept of six degrees of separation, we all know someone who has lost their life from this virus. Regardless of the individual’s age, comorbidities just compound the likelihood of complications that can lead to hospitalization and death.

Along with preventing the contraction of this virus by employing physical distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene when in public, once again I implore you to consider ways to lessen your risk of these comorbid conditions while protecting our environment at the same time, with simple lifestyle changes.

  • Eat out less: In most cases, whether you eat al fresco at the restaurant or bring home takeout, waste is being generated. Even “green” takeout containers take some time to decompose in the landfill. When preparing easy, delicious meals at home, use your tableware in all cases.
  • Avoid buying individual serving-sized packages: While some think that this will help with portion control, many will tear through several packs in one sitting. Try to portion your food item in a plate or bowl, and put all away before consuming to make getting “seconds” more of an effort. And, better yet, for items that require willpower to have in your house, buy only for special occasions. Purchasing a half-gallon of ice cream and box of cones for your family’s treat after Sunday dinner is a logical option. But if you live alone, consider a single serving-sized purchase when shopping that week.
  • Use the Internet to search for “healthy” recipes that have high ratings and numerous reviews: Better yet, join my free Virtual Cooking Classes on Saturdays at 3 p.m. to learn basic cooking skills and nutrition education, while producing a nutritious and delicious meal for your family. Whether you join us live or watch the recorded version, each week you will get an email with the shopping list, recipe, and Zoom link. One-time registration at is required.

Gina Cousineau works with clients virtually out of her San Clemente office. Her extensive education with a BS in dietetics and MS in integrative and functional nutrition, chef training, and more than 30 years as a fitness professional, allow her to help clients lose weight and improve their health. You can reach her at, 949.842.9975, and on Instagram and Facebook @mamagslifestyle.

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