Healthy Eating During COVID-19

Image
healthy food

You may have concerns about healthy eating during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may also be seeing ads about the best foods to “enhance” your immune system or “fight” coronavirus. While there are many compounds in foods such as fruits and veggies, nuts, beans, whole grains and seafood that are essential to keeping the body — and the immune system — healthy, there is no specific food or supplement that will “boost” your immune system or fight a virus. However, we know that general healthy eating is important for your overall health and well-being, so here are some tips to help you during this time.

Shopping Tips

  • If you or your family have been affected financially by the coronavirus outbreak, you may be eligible to apply for programs that help you buy food, such as SNAP and WIC. For New York State residents, start here.
  • Remember that fresh, canned and frozen all count when it comes to fruits and veggies, beans, seafood and many other foods that are part of a healthful diet!
  • Try planning out at least some of your meals for the week. Having a plan can help you use your food and your food dollars more efficiently and can reduce mealtime stress. 
  • Before going to the store, make a list of everything you’ll need. This will help you make fewer trips than usual and spend less time in the store. But try to avoid panic purchasing or overbuying. Some of the items on your list might be out of stock or have purchase limits, so be prepared to be flexible.
  • When you go to the store, practice social distancing, wear a face covering and wipe down high-touch surfaces, such as the handle of your cart, if disinfectant wipes are available.
  • Go for canned goods, frozen foods and other shelf-stable items, such as grains, when they’re available.
  • Some frozen and shelf-stable items may be sold out, so look in the fresh produce department for fresh options that will last — for example, apples, potatoes, squash, carrots, onions and garlic. You can also buy fresh produce to freeze for later use. (More on that below.)
  • Consider buying a few extra spices or dried herbs now that you will likely be preparing more food at home.
  • If you are able, consider using delivery or curbside pickup services for groceries and utilizing meal kits or produce box subscriptions.

More Information

The COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly. To read the latest information on Roswell Park’s response and find additional resources, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) web page.

Learn More

Cooking Tips & Resources

  • Wash your hands! This is always important, but another reminder doesn’t hurt. Review proper handwashing technique here.
  • Explore recipes for using canned goods.
  • Cooking during this time can be simple and straightforward:  Many veggies taste great simply tossed with oil, salt and pepper and roasted on a sheet pan in the oven.
  • Find creative ways to use staple ingredients, or ingredients you aren’t used to cooking. Try this Italian Clean-the-Fridge Vegetarian Chili if you have veggies in your fridge that you don’t know what do with.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with recipe substitutions, and check out different websites or apps that give you recipe ideas based on the food you have on hand:
  • Freeze meals or fresh ingredients for later.
  • Use airtight containers or bags and be careful not to overfill them, as some foods will expand when frozen.
  • If you cook a big batch of food, freeze in individual or family-size portions to make thawing and reheating easier.
  • Thaw food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. The USDA is a good resource for freezing and food safety information.
  • Meats, chicken and seafood maintain their quality better when frozen raw than if you cook them and then freeze them.
  • Wash, peel, chop and prep fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to freeze so they are ready to toss into recipes at a later time.
  • Lettuce, mayonnaise and cream sauces are examples of some foods that don’t freeze well.
  • Check out this article from Bon Appetit for tips on freezing different foods from a culinary perspective.

Snacking

  • Keep portion size in mind. Take an individual portion of food out of the bag or larger container and put the rest away, rather than munching straight from the bag.
  • Try to snack on fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • Remember, it’s okay to indulge in your favorite treats! Being overly restrictive can lead to stronger cravings and overeating.
  • Practice mindful eating habits at meals or snacks.
  • When you reach for a snack, ask yourself if you’re hungry or just bored or stressed. If you’re eating for emotional reasons rather than physical ones, get involved in different activities or focus on coping strategies.