The pandemic hasn’t been all bad. For many of us, the COVID-19 outbreak has offered a chance to slow down, de-stress, and swap bad behaviors for more healthy habits. Granted, the cabin-fever effects of quarantine have put pressure on relationships.
Despite the challenges, many couples—at least 68% according to research—are taking this time as an opportunity to deepen their emotional connection. People are having more conversations with their partners, exploring new hobbies together, and reinventing the idea of date night. Unsurprisingly, many pairs are using food as a vehicle to strengthen their relationships.
It’s no wonder the ‘quarantine kitchen’ became such a phenomenon over social media since spending more time at home means cooking instead of going out to eat. And, it's well documented that preparing and eating more meals together has a positive effect on your relationship. Cooking together builds teamwork, communication, and a sense of shared accomplishment. We’re inspired by the creative food and drink adventures some pairs have come up with:
- Trying a new cocktail every day of shelter-in-place
- Creating a Chopped-style virtual cooking competition with friends (mystery ingredients and all)
- Growing garden fresh vegetables together
For Best Results, Eat Healthy in Retirement – The Rise of Flexitarianism
If you’re looking forward to more date nights in and cooking with your partner, we suggest focusing on light and healthy meals. Eating healthy becomes even more important in your retirement years; good nutrition can slow the aging process and reduce the possibility of potentially disabling medical conditions.
The Flexitarian diet is a popular dietary approach that encourages mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation. Actually, it’s more of a lifestyle than a diet—there are no specific rules about meat and no clear-cut recommended numbers of calories and macronutrients, only general recommendations such as:
- Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
- Focus on protein from plants instead of animals
- Incorporate meat and animal products sparingly and opt for seafood over red meat
- Eat the least processed, most natural form of foods
- Limit your intake of sugar, sweets, and salt
- Use healthy fats such as olive oil instead of butter when cooking
Eating flexitarian may provide several health benefits including improved heart health, weight loss, and prevention of conditions like diabetes and cancer.
Keeping it Fresh in Quarantine – Reimagined Date Night Ideas
In relationships, as in cooking, the key to “keeping it fresh” is to mix things up. Especially if you feel like you’ve cooked a million meals since the start of shelter-in-place. If you normally collaborate for mealtimes, try this instead: one partner takes full control for one night, then the other person takes the next. That way, the meal is like a gift.
Here are some other ideas you can experiment with while keeping the tenets of a flexitarian diet in mind:
- Take a virtual cooking class together
- Get inspired by cooking shows
- Plan meals from a different cuisine each night. Indian, Thai, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisines feature many delicious, plant-forward dishes
- Take turns choosing the menu
- Compile a bunch of recipes that sound appealing to you both and then draw from a hat
Eating healthy and working on your relationship will benefit you now, and well into your retirement years. As your primary companion, your partner has a big impact on your mood as well as your actions. They can serve as your encourager, or your enabler—so it’s important to build good habits together.
The same is true for financial habits. Get on the same page around your finances with our 2020 Essential Retirement Guide.