Regardless of the current situation, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is important for keeping your immune system in top shape. With the shift in everyday life, figuring out what meals to make daily can pose a challenge, especially for those that have experienced financial loss. With increased levels of stress and anxiety, we often turn towards comfort foods that are high in sugar and saturated with unhealthy fats. One of the ways we can reduce some of these challenges is by coming up with a plan to make the most out of our grocery shopping trips to stay on track towards eating healthy.
What to stock up on?
Before planning your trip to the grocery store, organize your pantry and toss out any items that have expired to figure out what items you need to buy. When grocery shopping during the pandemic, some people tend to panic buy which leads to overspending and buying items that may not be helpful when trying to plan for a healthy meal. Christina Tram, a registered Dietitian with Sherbourne Health, discusses some of the foods we should be steering towards when trying to maintain a healthy diet during the pandemic:
“Currently, there are no cases reported of COVID-19 being spread through food. This means that, while we have to be extra careful by practicing physical distancing and hand washing, nutrition advice is essentially the same as it always was before the pandemic. Balance is key, pandemic or no pandemic. We have to ensure that we still aim for balanced meals that contain mostly colourful vegetables, along with a whole grain or starchy vegetable (e.g. bulgur, quinoa, potato, corn), and a protein food (e.g. beans, lentils, chicken, fish, etc.) We also need to be a bit more flexible and not shy away from canned or frozen products as these can be very convenient, longer lasting, and nutritious for us, especially when we are trying to limit our trips to the grocery store.”
Similarly, other organizations such as UNICEF encourage the buying of frozen and canned foods when fresh produce is not available as these can be stored for longer and incorporated into meals in a variety of ways (UNICEF, 2020). In addition, they also suggest stocking up on healthy snacks such as nuts, cheese, and yogurts (unsweetened) as a healthy option for children.
Here is a list of some key things to remember when grocery shopping:
- Avoid touching things that you are not going to buy
- Avoid panic buying as there is no shortage of foods
- Try to plan your shopping for the long-term and avoid frequent trips to the grocery store
- Wash all fruits and vegetables and wipe down surfaces of items when you get home
- Practice social distancing around other shoppers and cashiers while taking precautions (i.e. wearing mask and gloves)