How can you meet your needs during the COVID-19 pandemic? It may seem like an impossible task, but I am here to give you some tips and tricks to make it an easier task to overcome. COVID-19 may have temporarily changed everything. Our family life, work life, our child(ren)’s schooling, and our social life have all been altered. As many of us face challenges with job security and the financial impact that brings, our physical health, including our eating habits and physical activity patterns as well as mental health, are at risk.
Although navigating uncertain times is not easy, there are some things we can do to take care of ourselves and our families right now. Self-care starts with thinking about our new daily habits at home and what we can do to feed ourselves and our families with the healthiest choices we can. During these uncertain times, we tend to fall into unhealthy eating habits due to feeling fear, sadness, boredom, and anxiety. It is important to set a routine to combat some of those unhealthy eating habits. A general rule is to eat your first meal within one hour of waking up and then eat either a snack or a meal every 3-5 hours after that. If weather permits, get out the door before four. Physical activity is one of the best ways to battle stress. When planning meals, keep it simple and think nutrition. Balance your meals with whole grains/starches, veggies and/or fruit, and a source of protein. Remember the whole grains, vegetables, and fruits should be a larger portion and the meat or protein source should be smaller.
When shopping, opt for food items that last longer than a week. Instead of getting fresh fruits and vegetables, buy frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Also buy dried or canned beans/legumes, chickpeas/lentils, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grain pasta, bread, and rice, and canned fish. Try to limit purchases of tempting foods like chips, sodas, cookies, and ice cream. These are “filler” foods filled with empty calories that will run up your grocery bill. To keep your cost down, instead of buying ready-made food, try to make it on your own. (For example, puree a drained can of chickpeas to make your own hummus). You can try a meatless meal like chili with beans instead of beef. Have a plan on what you are going to purchase when you go to the store. Include your kids in the planning process. You can have them practice reading by going over what’s already in the pantry or refrigerator (If you have older children, they can write out the list for you). They can practice math by counting the number of items in the pantry, and they can practice science by helping cook in the kitchen and observing the science behind why ingredients change when they are combined, heated, or blended.
For tips to keep your nutrition optimal during COVID-19, reference the quick tip section below.
Although no specific foods, dietary supplements or natural health products will prevent an infection, eating a healthy diet, along with other healthy behaviors, strengthens your immune system’s ability to fight infections.
- Eat foods high in Vitamin C (ex., bell peppers, kiwi fruit, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes)
- Eat foods high in Vitamin A (ex., carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, red bell peppers, milk, tomatoes)
- Buy food items that you can have multiple uses for and that have longer shelf life (whole grain rice and pasta, tortillas, tomato-based sauces, frozen vegetables/fruit/meat, rolled oats, eggs, apples, oranges, carrots, onions)
- If having trouble purchasing meat, try meatless protein sources (ex., Greek yogurt, eggs, lentils, black beans, almonds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, broccoli)
- Practice safe measures when going to the store (keep a 6 ft distance between others, wash your hands for 20 seconds, wear a mask) or order food online and pick it up outside the store
- Utilize food banks in the community (find one near you by clicking here)