Maintaining good eating habits during these stressful times can help strengthen your immune system and keep you on track with your health goals. It is important to fill your plate with nourishing, antioxidant-rich foods, and some of these can be found in the non-perishable sections of the grocery store. Here are some tips to navigate eating at home during this time:
1. Plan Ahead
Social distancing and shelter in place orders ideally means less trips to the grocery store. Plan out your meals for your entire family, including all meals and snacks. Think about making meals that will make good leftovers for lunch or dinner. Soups, stews, roasted vegetables, and slow cooked meats are all good options. You can pre-portion leftovers and freeze them for future meals.
2. Healthy Non-Perishable Items
You can find a variety of healthy options in the middle of the grocery store where the non-perishable foods live. Dried beans, whole wheat or bean-based pasta, low-sodium tomato sauces, canned vegetables and fruit (packed in water), canned fish and frozen fruits and vegetables are all great options. Sardines are one of the best shelf stable proteins as they are full of omega 3 fatty acids and calcium. Keep whole grain bread in your refrigerator to extend its life.
3. Fresh Produce
My neighborhood grocery store is running very low on frozen fruits and vegetables, so I have been steaming fresh vegetables and freezing them for future use. Focus on foods that last longer in your refrigerator, such as apples and carrots, or on your counter like sweet potatoes and squashes.
4. Nutrients to Focus On: Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Zinc
– Protein helps your body heal and recover. Good sources include animal-based proteins such as lean meats, chicken, fish and plant-based protein such as beans, soy, nuts and seeds.
– Vitamin A protects your body from infections and helps keep your skin and tissues healthy. Good sources include sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, eggs and cod liver oil.
– Vitamin C helps your body form antibodies to fight infections. Good sources include citrus fruits, tomatoes, papaya and foods fortified with Vitamin A (such as milk).
– Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps to support your immune system. Good sources include nuts, seeds, and nut and seed based oils.
– Zinc helps your immune system function and can increase the rate of healing. Good sources include lean meats, poultry, whole grains and beans.
We are living in an uncertain time, but making a plan to make your nutrition a priority can help you stay healthy. I am available for virtual consultations if you have any questions or need nutritional guidance.
By Annie Rubin, MS, RDN