Nutrition

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder

Don’t Let Coronavirus Control Your Dietary Habits. Here’s How To Grocery Shop

 

Navigating the coronavirus is unchartered territory for many. Many people are scared, confused and, quite frankly, panicked!

I am sure you have noticed the sense of panic if you have been to your local grocery store recently. All the cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers and toilet paper are pretty much gone.

I have also noticed that in the stores I have visited during the past couple of days, the fresh produce section was still relatively stocked and pretty much anything processed and packaged was almost gone.

Of course, it’s important to have non-perishable food items on hand during emergencies. But I think people are letting fear control their diet right now. 

So many people are stocking up on processed and ultra-processed foods such as frozen pizza, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, instant noodles and soups and reconstituted meat products. And it makes sense because these products have a very long shelf life. 

In addition to this, people may be reaching for these products because they feel like eating “comfort foods.” Stress eating is a real thing!

Processed foods may increase the risk of disease.

But we have to keep in mind that processed foods are overall nutrient-void, full of sodium and/or sugar and regular consumption of these foods may lead to some serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression and even cancer

Not to mention, as we battle the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that we nourish our bodies with nutrient-rich foods in order to keep our immune systems strong so that they are in a better position to fight off viruses and other harmful pathogens.

I know it’s tempting to eat whatever we want out of boredom from being stuck in our homes and stress, but we must still continue to be proactive about our health.

Here are a few grocery shopping and cooking tips you can adopt as we overcome this virus together:

  • You can keep going for fresh produce

If you are worried about spoilage, blanch veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower and green beans and then store them in the freezer. 

(For information on how to properly wash fresh produce, read here).

Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack,” according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

You can also freeze kale, spinach and fresh fruit for smoothies. And of course, if available, stock up on already frozen fruit and veggies. 

You are probably home, so go for homemade.
  • Make soups!

Instead of buying canned soups (which are full of added sodium), make your own. What’s great about soups is that you can make large quantities and store leftovers in the freezer. Homemade soups are also usually full of nutrient-dense, whole foods, including onions, carrots, black beans, and lentils. Be sure to season and garnish your soups with nutrient-rich, immune-boosting herbs and spices such as ginger, oregano, thyme and more.

  • Stock up on teas.

Teas are rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties, are micronutrients found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables. Coffee also contains polyphenols, but not everyone tolerates caffeine well. So you can have a caffeine-free herbal tea and still get those polyphenols. And, of course, you can get polyphenols from eating a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of plant-based foods.

  • Go for whole grains.

Stock up on whole grains such as barley and bulgar. Some gluten-free options include brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and millet. Avoid processed crackers and white bread. Many whole grains contain essential nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, selenium and magnesium.

  • Learn to outsmart cravings.

People are already getting stir crazy and kids are already getting restless. We tend to alleviate this with salty and sweet snacks. My advice would be to swap chips with homemade sweet potato fries. You can also adopt healthier baking ingredients such as dates, almond flour, coconut flour, rolled oats, bananas and nut butters. Involve your kids in meal prep. Now is the time to venture out and try new, healthy recipes.

These are challengings times, but we will get through them if we take the necessary steps such as properly washing our hands, practicing social distancing and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces. We will come out better on the other end of this coronavirus pandemic if we are proactive about our health by maintaining healthy eating habits.

It is also important to get good quality sleep, exercise at home or outside away from other people and take care of our mental health whether that involves meditating or getting teletherapy services.

And if you still smoke, now is the perfect time to stop!

For more information on the coronavirus and how you can be proactive, read here.

 

Enjoy your healthy life!

 

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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