Tips on Eating Right and Shopping Safely During a Pandemic
Eating well is a key component of good health. In this pandemic, it is even more important. Additionally, for anyone who is at greater risk due to a health condition, any additional support for the immune system is valuable. Eating a well-balanced diet will help with adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals and especially antioxidants.
Antioxidants are found in plant-based foods with fruits and vegetables being great sources. It is recommended that everyone consume 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to provide those needed antioxidants. Along with fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods also provide good nutrition and antioxidants.
An overall healthy diet includes eating more of fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, fish, poultry, nuts, and low-fat dairy foods while cutting back on foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats. It is also beneficial to limit sodium (salt), sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats.
Eating healthy during COVID 19 has presented some additional challenges including food shopping. Health conditions can keep some people away from grocery stores and markets or can strictly limit visits. Ordering food through a delivery service in a good option but it presents issues such as delays or necessary substitutions which might not be as healthy as the original food selected. Having one designated shopper from your household who can safely shop or relying upon a local volunteer shopper might be good solution. However, even designated shoppers should minimize time spent in the store, so organize your list by category (produce, canned, frozen, beverages, dairy, etc.) so they can grab and go.
When shopping online or at the store itself, always prepare a shopping list that contains nutritious food choices. Include foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes that contain antioxidants. Snacks like blueberries, carrots, hummus, or hard-boiled eggs are wiser choices than chips or pretzels. By mixing colors of your produce a variety of nutrients are supplied and it makes a colorful, appealing plate. Broccoli, red and green peppers, carrots, red beets, apples, blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and other colorful produce provide those needed antioxidants. Remember to add to the shopping list whole grain foods including wheat bread to get needed fiber and poultry, fish, vegetable-based protein, and low-fat dairy products.
Stress can affect your immunity, so plan your shopping and food preparation process wisely, to avoid stress. Preparing meals in larger batches and then freezing portions for future use can be helpful. Make sure to date and label all foods that are frozen, so you know what they are and when they were frozen. Whole chickens, large fish fillets, and family-size packages of meat can be divided into smaller portions and frozen. Fresh vegetables can be washed, cut, blanched for 30 seconds, packaged, and then frozen. Fresh herbs can also be washed, chopped, and frozen for future use. (After meats are frozen, always remember to thaw them in your refrigerator and not at room temperature.)
Difficulty tasting and smelling food has been reported with people who have, or had, COVID-19. When dealing with this situation, it might be helpful to focus on the temperature and texture of food so meals can be enjoyed through other senses. Also, through this time with COVID and always, remember to stay properly hydrated by drinking enough liquid. Water is wonderful.
Below is a simple recipe involving blueberries and sage. It can be a great companion to a cup of tea or coffee during quarantine.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Broadwell, MS, RDN
About the Grantee
As the lead agency for the Bergen County’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC), the Division of Senior Services helps older adults, individuals with disabilities over the age of 18, and caregivers to access the complex, long-term care, community-based, health and human services.
Strategy: Social Determinants of Health SD
Cohort: North 1
Funder: Russell Berrie Foundation
Cities: Bergenfield Cliffside Park Dumont East Rutherford Englewood Fairview Fort Lee Leonia Little Ferry Lodi Lyndhurst Mahwah Montvale Moonachie North Arlington Palisades Park Paramus Ridgewood Rochelle Park Teterboro Waldwick Wallington Westwood