The future is uncertain. You spend your days at a makeshift home office, and possibly a makeshift school as you shift between employee and teacher. You only get out once a week to the grocery store…what should you buy?
Chips and soda?
It could be tempting in this time of stress, when you are not sure whether you will get to take that summer vacation or participate in that half marathon you want to do in the fall, to forget about eating well. Why bother when you don’t know what’s ahead? You may feel like it’s time to throw the long-term strategies out for the time being…to wait until things are back to normal.
I know I have bought more ice cream in the last few weeks than I have in a long time.
But if you have access to it, eating high quality, nutritious food, is as or even more important now than ever. Here are some reasons why:
- You will feel better in the short-run if you fuel your body with the nutritious food it recognizes. We have enough to worry about, why not support your body to feel as great as it can?
- Packing your diet with nutrients will boost your immune system, increasing your chances of getting through sickness quickly and at home if you do get COVID-19.
- Eating a nutritious diet optimizes brain function to keep you sharp.
- Nutritious homecooked meals can take longer to prepare than eating processed food. What better time than now to learn some new skills in the kitchen and enjoy some nice family meals? Find a couple of new recipes each week before your trip to the grocery store.
So, what should be on your grocery list? Here are some ideas. Work with what’s available, as that could be limited at your grocery store.
- A variety of vegetables with as much color variety as you can. Get greens to eat raw in salads, tacos, rice bowls, etc. Get veggies to cook: roast them, stir fry them, steam them, etc. Eat vegetables with every meal in large quantities and as often as possible.
- Get frozen vegetables to keep you stocked between grocery store runs
- If you cannot eat the veggies you purchased before they go bad, most can be frozen or cooked and then frozen. The following can be frozen on their own: greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, chopped zucchini, garlic, chopped onions. I’m sure others as well. For veggies that do not freeze well, such as carrots – consider cooking them into something and then freezing the dish, or just cooking them and freezing them. They might not all taste quite the same after freezing, but most nutritional value will remain. You don’t always have to love your veggies, sometimes you can just eat them and feel good that you did.
- Fruit is good too.
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds
- Protein: eggs, meat, poultry, sardines, beans – whatever you prefer
- Spices and herbs
- Grains if you do well with them: rice, oats, quinoa, sprouted grain bread, whole grain pasta
- Probiotics: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or kimchee found in the refrigerator section with live cultures
The gist: eat mostly foods that are single-ingredient items to create a meal or a snack. Think of your meals as nutritious support to the rest of your life. Food is your fuel, so let’s make sure it’s clean fuel.
Some other foods are fine too, on occasion, but keep the processed food to a minimum. As I said, I have been bringing ice cream into the house more than usual. Every week or two I have found myself so spent and exhausted, and I turn to pizza and ice cream dinners. I make a big salad as well, and enjoy the meal. Then I keep on with more nutritious meals most of the time.
You will have your own indulgence foods. However, if it’s something that you will eat in a couple of sittings, don’t bring it into the house. That might be chips, cookies, any sugar at all, etc. If you eat so much that you regret it, let it stay in the store for now.
Keep your body powerful, healthy, energetic, and strong to withstand the stress and the virus if you get it!