Dr. David Ma and Dr. Jess Haines

After more than a year of quarantines, most Canadians are enjoying the return of “normal life,” but two University of Guelph researchers say there are some habits from our stay-at-home lives worth maintaining.

Drs. Jess Haines and David Ma are the co-directors of the Guelph Family Health Study who have been studying how families have coped during the pandemic, particularly when it comes to mealtime.

Haines is a professor in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition who studies eating habits among families. Ma is a professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences who studies links between nutrition and disease, such as cancer.

Their research has found that families reported feeling more stress, exercising less and eating more snack foods during the last year, but they also found many families have spent more time together adopting healthy eating habits.

Many of these habits are worth trying to continue. Here are four:

Less drive-thru: With fewer after-school activities to rush to and less commuting, families relied less on last-minute takeout and more on home cooking.

More family meals: Many families reported they involved the kids more in meal planning and prep and ate together more as a family – all habits that have been linked to healthier eating.

Meal planning: Many families took time to plan out meals for the week and made grocery lists to get in and out of stores quickly — habits that lead to less food waste.

Using up leftovers: Compared to before the pandemic, families reported they reduced their food waste by using up more leftovers – again to reduce trips to stores.

Drs. Haines and Ma are available for interviews to discuss these new family eating habits worth keeping.


Dr. Jess Haines

Dr. David Ma