In fear of the coronavirus pandemic, people are clearing grocery store shelves to stock up on the essentials. But is the food you’re buying going to sabotage your health and lead to increased inflammation, lower immunity, and decreased brain function? OR is the food you’re stocking up on going to fuel your body so you can protect yourself, feel better and have more energy?
When shopping and preparing yourself for self-isolation or quarantine, here’s a list of what to put in your shopping card and what to skip:
DON’T buy processed grains, such as bread, pasta, cereal, flour tortillas, or any baked goods. Although you may be tempted to grab these staples that have long shelf lives, these simple and processed carbohydrates can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, causing an increased level of cortisol (stress hormone), leaving you feeling anxious, irritated, and hungrier. Processed grains also increase inflammation in the body and decrease your immune system.
DO opt for healthier options—when available—such as quinoa, sprouted oats, and tortillas and breads made from almond flour (you can put them in the freezer and toast them when you’re ready to eat.) These smart carbs offer sustainable energy that won’t cause blood sugar ups and downs.
DON’T buy frozen dinners or pizzas. These are packed with trans fats and devoid of any nutrients.
DO stock up on frozen vegetables, which are filled with antioxidants and immune boosting vitamins and minerals.
DON’T buy canned fruits and vegetables because there is often contain bisphenol A (BPA), which is a toxin that can be absorbed into the body and can eventually affect the brain, leading to memory loss, increased risk for mental disorders and high blood pressure.
DO buy fresh produce and put whatever you won’t eat right away in the freezer. For example, put blueberries or raspberries in the freezer so you can add them to shakes. Freeze broccoli, then use it in soups or stews. A recent study found that happiness is correlated with how many fruits and vegetables you eat. The more colorful fruits and vegetables you eat (up to eight servings a day) the happier you become—almost immediately. No antidepressant works this fast!
DON’T grab a gallon of milk and lots of sugary yogurts. Dairy is a potential allergen that research shows may increase depression, anxiety, stress, and memory.
DO select unsweetened milk alternatives such as almond or coconut milk.
DON’T stock up on processed meats that are cured or smoked, such as bacon, hot dogs, or salami. They may last longer but they contain unhealthy, inflammatory fats, nitrates, and other compounds that can increase inflammation, your risk for heart disease and several mental health conditions.
DO spend on high-quality protein powder and frozen meats, such as salmon, grass-fed beef, and pastured chicken breast.
DON’T spend money on sodas, energy drinks, or pre-made smoothies. They are full of sugar, artificial colors, and artificial sweeteners that will hijack your gut and brain!
DO purchase relaxing herbal teas like chamomile, and get some flavored stevia, a natural sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels the way regular sugar does, nor have the negative effect on the body that artificial sweeteners do.
Rachel Scheer is a Certified Nutritionist who received her degree from Baylor University in Nutrition Science and Dietetics. Rachel has her own private nutrition and counseling practice located in McKinney, Texas. Rachel has helped clients with a wide range of nutritional needs enhance their athletic performance, improve their physical and mental health, and make positive lifelong eating and exercise behavior changes.