By Mary Lindsey Jackson, RN, LDN
As social distancing has become the new norm with COVID-19, many people are facing new challenges, such as cooking more frequency at home, planning meals for longer stretches of time and making creative substitutions in the store due to low supplies. These challenges don’t have to mean complete abandonment of healthy habits.
Here are a few ways to nourish your body with healthy foods while practicing social distancing:
Shop for longevity. Utilize shelf stable items, such as low-sodium canned foods (beans, vegetables, tuna, etc.), whole grains and whole wheat dried pastas, dried legumes, nuts, oats, unsweetened applesauce, unsweetened dried fruits, and frozen meats or veggie burgers.
Frozen is fantastic. Frozen vegetables and fruits are nutritionally similar to fresh, and are often lower in sodium than canned vegetables. Use frozen fruits in smoothies or oatmeal, and use frozen vegetables in stir fries, soups and omelets.
Consider online options. Some grocery stores offer curbside pick-up or delivery to your home. Use these services to avoid going in the stores at all.
Keep meals simple. Here are some fun and family-friendly ideas to get started:
• Bean salad – toss together a can of rinsed black beans and a can of rinsed corn; add pico de gallo and a squeeze of lime for extra flavor.
• Baked potato bar – serve with a variety of toppings (bean or turkey chili, salsa, onions, etc.).
• Stir fry – cook frozen vegetables and tofu or frozen shrimp. Use low-sodium soy sauce, chili paste or sriracha, and green onions for flavor. Serve with brown rice.
• Premade salad and soups – salad mixes from store made with broccoli stems or cabbage may last longer than softer salad greens. Serve with a low-sodium carton of soup.
• Homemade pizza – this family favorite can be made with whole-wheat pitas, jarred marinara sauce and part-skim mozzarella. Each family member can top with veggies of their choice.
• Sandwiches – fill with hummus and vegetables, tuna or lean meat on whole-grain bread.
Lessen your stress. Nerve-wracking circumstances can make you want to reach for the closest pint of ice or cookies to feel better in the moment. Explore alternative ways of relaxing at home, such as listening to music, reading, stretching or talking with a friend.
Use this as an opportunity to focus on self-care through nutritious foods to help your body (and immune system) work at its best!
Mary Lindsey Jackson, RN, LDN, is a Clinical Nutritionist Educator with Mission Weight Management.