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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

HELP! How do I (responsibly) eat my way through a pandemic?

By now, regardless of where you live, I am certain you've been doomsday prepping for COVID-19 (or insert whichever disaster we have retreated into our bunkers for). A question I have gotten a couple times from family and friends is: what foods do I keep on hand during this extended period of isolation?

STOP. Put down the toilet paper. Slow your roll (get it?). You don't need to stockpile TP. Unless you used bathrooms outside your home 47 times per day, you're not going to need all 3,001 rolls of toilet paper. Remember, you are not the only one exiled to your home during this time. Everyone else needs to wipe their butt too. When the threat of COVID-19 is over, and we're all allowed to see the sun for the first time in months, you don't want to be next to one of those buttholes that hasn't been wiped in 93 days because TP became a legend people had heard of but never seen.

Below is a list of suggested foods. I have a tendency to shop generic brands to save on money. You can also shop according to the weekly ads, coupons, or by shopping several stores for the lowest prices. However, because of the current state of things and most of the country being in a State of Emergency, ordering online for pickup/delivery and avoiding large crowds is encouraged as much as possible. I know not everyone is privileged enough to have this available. If you can, please check on the neighbors, elderly, disabled, immunocompromised, etc. They may need help or be without necessary items because they can't get to a store. Please, think of those who are at high risk or those who need extra assistance. Offer a (clean) hand (from six feet away) to help. 

Canned Goods
Low salt/sugar, reduced salt/sugar and full salt/heavy syrup are also available. If these are more abundant or less expensive, you can simply rinse these items in a strainer before using. Rinsing will decrease salt or sugar by roughly 50%. Don't do this to soup. Unless you like chunky water for lunch. 
  • No salt added canned vegetables and tomatoes
  • No sugar added canned fruits
  • Low sodium/no salt added/light soups and broths
  • No salt added canned beans
  • Tuna or salmon packed in water (fish is already higher in fat, so packed in oil is unnecessary)
  • Natural applesauce (no sugar added)

When possible, use no sugar added juices. If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia and are at risk of low blood sugar, please keep at least one full-sugar option on hand.
  • Diet juices
    • usually low in calories and carbohydrates (under 10 calories and 2 carbohydrates per serving)
  • Light juices 
    • tend to have reduced calories and carbohydrate - generally somewhere around a 50% reduction.
  • V8 vegetable juice (also available in low sodium)

Boxed Foods
  • 2% milk (reduced fat) macaroni and cheese or whole grain macaroni and cheese (unless noted on packaging, these are not GF)
  • Whole grain pasta/noodles (not GF) or chickpea/lentil noodles (usually GF)
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Wild rice
    • double check ingredients to make sure nothing wheaty snuck in there
  • BelVita snacks 
    • generic brand is fine, these are not GF
  • Fiber One bars 
    • generic brand is fine, these are not GF
  • Quest Protein bars 
    • other brands of less expensive high protein, high fiber bars are fine
  • Larabar
  • KIND bars

Snack Foods
When it comes to chips, cookies, and candies, there isn't anything listed below. Simply eat what you would normally choose. Eating should still be enjoyable, and not everything needs to be "healthy." Pay attention to mindless eating. If you are eating for a reason other than hunger, ask yourself "why" you're eating, and what else may be able to fill that deep hole of loneliness you're feeling from a quarantined lack of human interaction. We both know food isn't the answer the all our problems - just some of them.
  • Dried fruit (no sugar added, if available)
  • 50% reduced sugar craisins or cranberries
  • Light salt, reduced salt, raw or no salt nuts of any variety
  • Popcorn 
    • microwave bags are the simplest, but any kind of popcorn is a good snack

Read labels carefully on these products as some of them may require refrigeration after opening. In some of these products, if you cut back on fat, there may be an increase in sugar (or vice versa). Again, check labels and choose what's right for you.
  • Chunky vegetable pasta sauce
  • Natural peanut butter (or any nut butter)
  • Ken Davis 2Carb barbecue sauces 
    • or any brand of lower sugar BBQ sauce
  • Low sodium soy sauce 
    • not all are GF, check ingredients carefully for "wheat starch" or "wheat gluten"
  • Light salad dressings 
    • no need for fat free - we don't want to take all the fun out of life

Cereals/Breakfast Foods
  • Rolled oats, instant oats, or steel cut oats (not GF unless package specifically states)
  • Cream of Wheat (not GF) or Cream of Rice (GF)
  • Cheerios 
    • certain flavors are GF - check ingredients/package for GF label
  • KIND granola
  • Bear Naked Fit granola (not GF)
  • Whole grain pancake/waffle mix (not GF unless package specifically states)

  • Mrs. Dash seasoning mixes (or other no salt added spice mixes)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Any oil you prefer
  • Cooking spray 
    • note: cooking spray with baking flour is not GF
  • Preferred sweetener 
    • Splenda and Stevia are non-caloric sweeteners with no affect on blood sugar, though any alternative sweeteners is safe to consume, generic brand is fine
  • Powdered milk 
    • this is a shelf stable alternative to refrigerated skim milk - can also be used as a protein powder substitute - simply follow package directions to reconstitute with water

Any frozen fruits, vegetables, and potatoes are encouraged (preferably with no sauce, sugar, or salt added) as long as you have freezer space for them. If you have it within your budget, a few frozen meals/pizza/convenience items may also be useful. Because of the high sodium content of many frozen prepared items, please pay attention - especially if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are prone to water retention. You may need to limit some high sodium items according to your care team's guidance.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. As much as possible, I tried to offer suggestions for low-sodium and higher fiber food options. Please use this list as a guide, not a bible, as your specific food needs may vary. Do not take this as medical advice. This is simply a list of suggestions for those unsure what to purchase.

Remember, you don't need to stock up on every item in this list. Select only the ones you need and don't over purchase (remember the buttholes). Keep enough in your cupboards to last you a couple weeks and always shop according to your budget. To make grocery shopping easiest, I keep a running list on my fridge of foods that need a restock. 

If you have questions about anything listed here or are looking for specific suggestions, please leave a comment on this post or email RecipesAreGuidelines@gmail.com

Now, I'm off to eat my own well thought out isolation dinner (at 10:00 pm!) that took me hours to to make: Baked Cheetos and hot chocolate. Not every meal is a winner.
White Lazy Susan that says "happy everything" in black lettering, on top of a wooden table. On top of the Lazy Susan is a soup bowl with cheetos inside and a Harry Potter coffee cup that says "I solemnly swear I am up to no good." The coffee cup is full to the brim with hot chocolate and mini marshmallows

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