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How to Shop Smart and Eat Healthy During a Pandemic?

Everyone’s life has gone haywire since the Covid-19 pandemic started to spread like wildfire. This has either resulted in a lot of people losing their livelihoods or having to work from home. Now, it is no secret that staying at home all day long, especially at a time like this where most of us do not have a lot of work to do, results in us having hunger pangs ever so often.

Opening the refrigerator every half hour to grab a soda, or a cookie, or some ice cream, if the already high-stress levels did not have that much of an effect on your waistline, the mindless eating and constant snacking during the pandemic will certainly do. It is, therefore, all the more important to stay focused and be more mindful about what goes into our mouths now that we have to get our immune systems to be even more strong in order to fight off this virus. But how do we do that? How do we stay on track? 

  • Busting dietary myths

Let us look at some myths related to our diet regarding the pandemic.

Firstly although it is very important to eat a balanced diet that includes the required amounts of vitamins A, C, and D and minerals like Zinc, Selenium, etc. to build a strong immune system. It is also imperative to note that the amount and the quality of food you eat along with the number of vitamins and minerals do not render you immune to contracting the virus infection. 

Secondly, a lot of people in the wake of the current Covid-19 situation tend to consume a lot of multi-vitamins or go for just one type of food in their attempt to embolden their immune systems. It is, however, worth noting that popping a lot of multi-vitamins is not a good move in the first place, a lot of people might develop side effects, and also, our bodies are not built to absorb such mountain-like amounts of vitamins in a day. Our bodies can only absorb a certain amount of vitamins and minerals like, for instance, if we take Vitamin C, our bodies can absorb just 250 to 300 mg of it at a given time. 

In order to avoid the contraction and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is of paramount importance to practice good hygiene and maintain social distancing as proposed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Tips for shopping during pandemic

As most of the countries worldwide have made it mandatory to go under a lockdown, which leaves us with no choice but to remain indoors as a way of self quarantining to avoid the spread of the virus. Now the thought of having to stay indoors for weeks on end might prompt many people to panic buy a lot of things that they do not end up needing, let’s look at the three important tips for shopping while in quarantine and maintaining a well-balanced diet.

– Make a plan 

Before going grocery shopping, it might come in handy if you set some time aside for making a list of the things that you might need. Buying things that you do not need will be not only a waste of food but also your hard-earned money. Save both and plan in advance. 

– Avoid panicking 

At a time like this, it is all the more important to keep your cool. Of course, it is obvious that anyone would get anxiety given the situation, but staying calm will help you avoid buying things unnecessarily, things that most likely will end up in garbage cans.

– Be considerate and do not hoard 

As a responsible citizen, you should not only think about yourself and your family but also be considerate of others’. Panic buying and hoarding things is not a good idea as buying in excess will lead to other families not having access to the essentials. It is therefore recommended to only buy the things that you will actually use, also keeping in mind the quantity of it. Buy enough to last the time you will be under quarantine.

Another thing to note is that if you are one of those that, instead of using the disposable bags, use the reusable ones, please disinfect them every time you visit the grocery store.

What If You Must Shelter in Place?

If you must find a safe location and stay there till the situation gets better, here are the few things that you need to consider stocking upon during pandemic.

  • Lean proteins

Lean and skinless chicken, minced turkey, and beef will be some of the ideal items to stock up on, considering that these can be kept frozen for a long time. For vegetarians that find alternatives in plant-based meat, items need to be aware that while they do not contain saturated fat, these are, however, very highly processed along with having a lot of chemicals added to it in order to increase its shelf life which can be detrimental to your health. It is therefore recommended to search for other healthier plant-based foods that contain protein.

  • Frozen fruits and vegetables

Frozen vegetables and fruits are a great option next to its fresh from the farm versions. These are much healthier than their canned counterparts due to their low sodium content. You also might be surprised to know that frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy and nutrient-dense when compared with the fresh ones. And so frozen fruits and vegetables make an ideal option when it comes to maintaining your healthy diet even in quarantine. Take note of the following points before buying these.

  • Fruits with longer shelf lives

Do not ever eat fruit right after buying it is as it is always a good idea to wash it thoroughly to make sure it is free from pathogens. When shopping for fruits or vegetables, make sure you go for the ones that have their skin intact as, without their skin, fruits and vegetables tend to go bad faster. Follow the below rule to store your fruits and vegetables.

– Store apples in the fridge as this will make them last longer.

– Avoid buying berries like Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc. as berries go bad really fast as compared to other types of fruits.

– Buy bananas that are unripe and still green as it will make them last a lot longer.

– When refrigerated, Mangoes and Grapefruits tend to last a bit longer.

– Just like Bananas buy Avocados in their unripe stage, keep them in the refrigerator, and they will easily last a week.

  • Dried fruits

Again, just like frozen fruits, dried ones also have the same amount of nutrients as compared to their fresh versions. But since these are dried and have no water content in them, they are not that filling along with having very high sugar content.

  • Whole grains

While in quarantine, also make sure to use less refined carbs as much as possible. Instead, go for whole-wheat versions. Brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta all have a longer shelf life along with being super healthy. Get creative with your meals; make pasta dishes with whole-wheat pasta along with lots of veggies and chickpeas for a healthy dose of fiber and protein. Chickpeas and whole grains are a great source of not only fiber but also Zinc that can help you achieve a strong immune system. Consider buying whole wheat bread and keeping them refrigerated to make them last longer.

  • Eggs

Eggs are a great source of lean protein, along with being very versatile. You can make a lot of different dishes with eggs like whole-wheat egg pancakes, egg salads, or just having them plain. Raw eggs have a very long shelf life and can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks. However, if you or anyone in your family is suffering from a heart condition, it is not advisable to eat more than three egg yolks in a week. In that case, you can switch the yolks with the egg whites to get a good boost of protein.

  • Other dry goods

Aside from that, you can also consider stocking up on other types of dry foods like unsalted versions of snacks, nuts, beans, unsweetened trail mixes, along with organic and unsweetened nut butter like almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, etc.

  • Lean (less than 2% fat) dairy

When buying dairy items, make sure to not go for the full-fat versions and instead look for the ones that come with less than 2 percent of fat content in them. Try Greek yogurt, which is not only low in fat but is also very healthy as it is loaded with protein. Keeping it in the fridge will make it last for weeks at a time. You can either have the Greek yogurt straight out of its packaging or add fruits to make it a healthy snack. Alternatively, Greek yogurt can also be used to make sauces and condiments. When buying dairy, make sure you get the ones that have Vitamin D added to them. Being indoors all the time during quarantine can result in the deficiency of this vitamin, and so you need to look for alternative methods to get your daily dose. Vitamin D is essential for a strong immune system, along with making your bones strong. 

  • Treats and Snacks

Being in quarantine during pandemic situation is very hard, especially for foodies, from eating out and indulging every other day to not going anywhere for days can be very hard, and so it is important to treat yourself to your favorite snacks and treats every now and then to feel sane. But you need to be aware of your portion sizes as every bite can add up, treat yourself, but practice portion control.

  • Eating Healthy Together

Whether because you are in quarantine or not, it is always a good idea to spend time together with your family and sit down for a meal. According to research, it is very beneficial for families as a way of bonding with each other. Below is a sample meal plan that you and your family can enjoy at home during the quarantine.

  • Breakfast- Prepare whole wheat bread toasts with whole eggs or egg whites. Additionally, you can also add a side of boiled or sautéed spinach with some fresh or frozen fruits. The best way to add more vegetables to your daily breakfast menu is to mix them with the eggs and prepare a frittata.
  • Lunch- Whip up a simple brown rice dish with some fresh or frozen veggies, along with a serving of some lean protein like fish, skinless chicken, and eggs. Lastly, prepare some sauce with the help of some healthy fat like olive oil.
  • Dinner- For dinner, you can go for some yummy and healthy whole wheat pasta dish with some chickpeas and chicken along with some fresh sauce made of tomatoes. If you are using canned tomato sauce, make sure that it does not have a lot of sodium in it. If you have enough time, you can even make the sauce from scratch with fresh tomatoes and top it with some Parmesan cheese and season with some fragrant rosemary sprigs.

Moving Forward Well Prepared

One thing that all of us need to understand is that anyone of us can contract Covid-19 no matter how healthy we eat. Eating a balanced meal every day with lots of veggies will not render us immune to the coronavirus, but as a preventive measure, it is of paramount importance to eat more healthily and load up your plate with more organic and fresh produce than relying on heavily processed foods. Leading such a life might not make you immune to the infection, but it can definitely keep your immune system in good shape, which is all the more important in the wake of the current virus outbreak.

Embry Women’s Health Appointment Visitor Policy Related to COVID-19