From Allene Gremaud
Allene Gremaud is new to the St. Charles Community and immediately offered her time and insight in support of numerous community health projects in St. Charles County including ones through Community Strong SCC action teams and the Health Advisory Board. We hope you will make use of her suggestions.
Utilize different forms of produce
There are many things to keep in mind while stocking up on foods. Which will offer the best nutrients, which have optimal shelf life, and more. It’s important to keep these all in mind all of these things both when planning meals and shopping. Food in different formats (canned, frozen, fresh) can all offer us nutrients we need to stay healthy.
It’s best to buy fresh produce at different stages of ripeness (ie some ripe now, some in 4-5 days) so you’ll have that fresh fruit to snack on for a longer duration and can avoid going to the grocery store very often. In general, it’s best to buy fresh produce when it’s in season, as it’ll have the most nutrients (and will likely be cheaper than out of season counterparts).
Check out resources on choosemyplate.gov for seasonal produce and recipes– (https://www.choosemyplate.gov/resources/seasonal).
Make a plan before going to the grocery store to utilize these different forms of food with varying shelf life.
Making a detailed list and even planning out some meals will take time upfront but will save you time in the long run. Check out some of our resources for meal planning before you go to the store or when you’re trying to use up the extra foods in your pantry. A couple resources are just below and even more at the bottom of the article.
Seasonal and Simple
Apps for meal planning and more
Focus on nutrients to boost immunity
It’s important to ensure you’re getting a few specific key ingredients that can help boost your immune system now. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps with immune function. Foods rich in Vitamin E include almonds, seeds, greens (collard greens, kale, spinach), mango, and avocados. Vitamin C is another important immune function booster and is found in citrus foods, broccoli, peppers, mangos, collard greens, tomatoes, and cabbage. Vitamin B-6 is also crucial for the functioning of the immune system. Foods rich in Vitamin B-6 include chickpeas (garbanzo beans), chicken breast, potatoes, bananas, walnuts, peanut butter, and cold water fish like salmon and tuna.
Practice proper food safety
Food safety is an important component of eating and maintain your health! Ensure you wash fresh fruits and vegetables under cold, running water before consuming. COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness so there is no reason to avoid purchasing fresh produce. Keep your work areas clean. Ensure you’re cleaning countertops and tables with soap and water and disinfecting with a 10% bleach solution regularly. Check out the links below for more on proper food safety. Check out our St. Charles County Extension Page for a video on food safety and tips for making grocery shopping safer.
St. Charles County Extension Facebook post on food safety:
Food Safety Resources:
Extension reference guide– https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/foodsafety/topics/covid19.html
Bonus Tips & other things to keep in mind
Drink a lot of water! Staying hydrated is important. Also, avoid drinking excess amounts of caffeine.
You may not be moving as much as usual, so listen to your body when it comes to your hunger urges. You may not need as much food as when you’re at work. Check out MU Extension resources for practicing mindful eating. https://extension2.missouri.edu/news/mindful-eating-3465
Try to limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is not only a depressant that can tax our mental health at this time, but also can harm our immune system. Limit drinks to 1 per day for women and 2 per day for men.
Try to quit or avoid smoking, as smoking harms your immune system and puts further stress on your lungs and heart. We know COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, and people with compromised lung function can be more severely affected if it’s contracted.
Individuals with diabetes: Work to keep your blood sugar in check. Managing your disease through proper diet and exercise is especially important now, to keep your immune system as healthy as it can be and reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.
Fun Tip: Have extra time at home?
Consider starting your own garden! Many vegetables can be effectively grown in containers and foods like greens can become productive in a very short amount of time. The act of gardening may also help with stress reduction!
Read More about:
Utilizing different forms of produce
Frozen fruits and vegetables are excellent to have around and are chalk full of nutrients. Frozen produce is frozen shortly after picked, so nutrients are maintained. They’re quick and easy to throw into soups or other meals, as they’re already cleaned and washed. Ensure you’re purchasing products without added sugar or salt for optimal health benefits and to reduce unnecessary calories. They’re affordable and can be frozen for a long time before used and still maintain their quality.
Canned produce is also a viable option—and a good one to have around now! The shelf life is long and they don’t take up fridge or freezer space. When purchasing canned foods, look for options with “reduced sodium” or “no added salt” labels. Take a look at our Can-Do recipes for creative ideas on how to use canned foods. Excess salt can also be rinsed off of canned foods to reduce overall sodium intake.
Juice is an option that often gets looked over and can offer nutrients as well. Juices bought at room temperature have long shelf-lives as long as they’re unopened as well. Look for juices with higher fruit/vegetable content like 100% juice or juice with no added sugar.
Having an adequate stock of dry goods like brown rice, quinoa, and beans is also a nice way to reduce foods stored in fridge and freezer space and keep nutritious foods on hand. Things like beans are also a great non-meat protein source in case your meat supply runs low or for vegetarian meals.
Focusing on nutrients to boost immunity
Probiotics and Prebiotics are also important to focus on. These foods can help better our overall health by creating a favorable environment in our gut for healthy bacterial. Prebiotics are foods that are nondigestable to humans but feed the “good” bacteria in our gut. These “good” bacteria help us absorb other nutrients like calcium. Good food sources for prebiotics include asparagus, bananas, onions, garlic, soybeans, and whole wheat foods. Probiotics are live cultures of “good” bacteria found in your gut. They help us break down and absorb vital nutrients. Foods including probiotics include yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, aged cheeses, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, and soy beverages. It’s important to include both pre and probiotics in our diet.
Keep in mind, supplements (including those for pre and probiotics) are not regulated by the FDA and oftentimes are not absorbed by the body the same as food. It’s best to get as much of our nutrients as we can from eating whole foods. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, as some may interfere with any current medications you may be taking and some can have adverse effects.
Allene Gremaud, MS
Nutrition and Health Field Specialist
University of Missouri Extension in St. Charles County.
Share our Strength. 2019. Cooking Matters. <cookingmatters.org>.
Jan 2020. 3 Essential Vitamins That are Best for Boosting Immunity: Eating right is a critical step to ward off illness. <https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-vitamins-best-boosting-immunity/>.
- The Nutrition Source: Vitamin E. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-e/
Duyff, Roberta L. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 2017.
December 2014. Iowa State Extension Words on Wellness document: Words on Wellness: Your extension connection to nutrition and fitness. <https://www.extension.iastate.edu/hancock/sites/www.extension.iastate.edu/files/hancock/2014%20DEC.pdf>.