Nutrition During Quarantine

Quarantine has brought many new issues to the surface. People are having to become more adaptive in order to problem solve and remain responsible in this new and ever-changing environment. Similar to the changes of going to university for the first time and getting the ‘Freshman 15’, people are lamenting their changing bodies while they develop their own ‘Quarantine 15’. Anxiety during a pandemic is a common response, and with anxiety comes changed eating habits and that can result in turning to comfort eating or worse, lack of appetite.

However, this mentality of body weight shame is stigmatizing and not helpful when trying to compassionately navigate through a global pandemic. As you go through sedentary home stays and your new eating habits form, your body will change and adjust to those new demands. This is a normal physical response and you do not need to add on emotional shame to your burdens. Although, if you are feeling like you would like some guidance for quarantine friendly food purchases, this article will present some options.

As our senior citizens are our most vulnerable demographic, they need to minimize leaving their home. So if you are an elder or a caregiver of an elder, try and limit or carefully strategize grocery trips. Most stores have implemented a senior hour: usually, the first hour of the store is reserved for senior customers as it is when the store is at its cleanest and most stocked. So if you are a senior, make sure to call ahead to your local stores and ask about their senior hour and other senior-friendly options. As well, stores have implemented ‘curbside pickup’ in which you can order ahead (via website, app or phone call) and you can pick up your order while physically distancing yourself. Another option is delivery- some stores will deliver right to your home for an extra delivery cost, so for seniors who do not have transportation this is a great option for getting regular groceries while staying home.

However, be careful as these delivery services have been swamped because of demand, so make sure to order in advance in order for you to receive your food when you need it. Of course, if you have a friendly neighbor or a caregiver family member, you can always ask them to do your grocery run while they buy theirs and drop it off at your home. This is very convenient if you need assistance in putting heavy groceries away and also a great excuse to get a chat in while physical distancing. Be mindful to stay at least 6 feet apart, wear a mask, and clean the areas thoroughly when finished.

Once you have a plan in place for how you will get your groceries, take stock. Make sure to create an inventory of food you already have and draft a plan for what you need for your basics, emergencies and activities. Your basics are the food you always need in the house. Emergencies are items you need in case of emergencies, such as cold and flu medication, allergy medication, first aid kits, etc. Stock up with an extra of each item, just in case. Activity food is for creature comfort. Since everyone is home, people have been doing more baking, cooking and experimenting. This is a perfect time to dust off your old cookbook and find a hidden treasure. You could even send the recipe to a friend and video chat with the results.

Your regular ‘basics’ may be fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, but in quarantine, you have to think about the longevity of your food. Look at your basics list and see what you can substitute to have your food last longer. For example, instead of fresh blueberries, you can buy frozen berries and defrost them in portion sizes. There are many options for the same food you love, in a way that lasts longer!

Accessible Food for Quarantine

  • Nonperishable Food Options
    • Look for dry goods that you normally love and can be used a variety of ways: like pasta or oatmeal. As well, there is non-perishable milk now that comes in a variety of forms which will be helpful in your cooking and baking.
  • Canned Foods
    • Canned foods are your best friend: almost anything you want probably comes in a canned version that will outlast this pandemic. Plus, it is easier to store canned and dry food than refrigerated food.
  • Frozen Food
    • Frozen food, especially meat, fruit and vegetable is a great alternative to fresh food, as it has the same nutrients but lasts longer.
    • Freezing food in portion sizes can be helpful when you have to go weeks between grocery deliveries. You can meal prep while the food is fresh, and keep the ready-made meals longer.
  • Nuts and Nut Butters
    • Nuts and nut butters are long-lasting and are easy, healthy protein-rich snacks.
  • Whole Grains
    • While bread will only last a week in the fridge, whole grains like rice, couscous and quinoa will last years in your pantry.