Good Nutrition in Our Time of Isolation

Aurora Dawn

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If we look on the bright side of the near total standstill of our lives, we do have one thing going for us (well, several, but here’s one): unlike hunkering down for a natural disaster, we can mostly move freely to get food, the stores will be restocked, and we have electricity and water to continue cooking. As we all navigate the ins and outs of staying active in the time of social distancing, I’d like to encourage you to continue healthy eating habits...or improve them if necessary, as you might have more time to think about it. If you have children, this is especially important. We all know how hard it can be to reinstitute or change a habit after just a couple weeks of letting ourselves slide! Let’s not let this be an opportunity to lose good habits or form new bad ones. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy comfort foods, but those should be considered treats, not staples. And you can use this time as a nutrition/science lesson for distance learning for the kiddos!

Because we are lucky enough to have stores that will restock and ways to refrigerate and heat our food, there is no reason you can’t continue to buy and prepare fresh food at home. So my general advice applies: consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, including from every color your family will eat! To help boost your immune system, bell peppers and citrus fruits, broccoli and leafy greens are great. Don’t forget your protein-lean beef, chicken, fish and eggs, and add peanuts and almonds, Greek yogurt, milk, tofu, oats and lentils accordingly, depending on your diet. You can also supplement with protein powders in recipes and in smoothies. Don’t skip out on some healthy grains, even if you are trying to consume fewer carbs, and limit saturated fats and sugars across the board.

Drink plenty of water and try to reduce sugary drinks. This is good advice all the time, but is especially important if you are more sedentary at home. I trust you’ll still get those exercise minutes, but some people do tend to be move less when they are restricted to one location for longer periods. This even happens to me sometimes when I spend the bulk of a day working from home, but I also blame the dog for wanting more cuddle time!

If you do feel the desire to get more shelf-stable foods just in case, there are lots of options. Look for the nutritional information on the packages and do your best to keep good nutrients in high volume, fillers, additives and empty calories in low volume. Some suggestions for your shopping list:

  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal, granola or granola bars
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit & canned or concentrated juices
  • Dried noodles and soups
  • Beef jerky and other dried meats
  • Nuts and trail mixes
  • Powdered or shelf-stable milk
  • Beef stew, chili, and similar meals with low salt, sugar, and saturated fats
  • Dried or canned legumes such as peas, lentils, peanuts, and beans
  • Canned fruit, especially with low sugar (but no artificial sweeteners)
  • Canned fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines
  • Canned meats such as chicken turkey, ham, and beef
  • Canned vegetables with low sodium
  • Grains that are whole, like brown rice, oatmeal, and no-sugar-added cereal
  • Canned tomato sauces

Just remember, the isolation might be temporary, but good nutrition habits for you and your family should be forever!

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