People all over the globe are trying to find ways to put food on the table, especially those who have families, explained Kristen Rogers of American news channel CNN. Health institute the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended stockpiling two weeks’ worth of food if possible. However, nearly 17 million individuals in the US have filed for unemployment in the last few weeks.
Other workers had their work hours reduced or found themselves struggling to get freelance assignments. Food insecurity is stressful and it can also jeopardize your immune system. You will need to have a strong immune system to fight off COVID-19. How can you purchase healthy food that is within your budget?
Surveys On Healthy Eating
In a 2019 survey commissioned by plant-based food company Sweet Earth Foods, millennials spent about $2,242 at the grocery store and $1,672 dining out, which added up to around 1,140 hours devoted to food, reported Mary Ellen Shoup of Food Navigator, a website that publishes food-related content. The survey found that millennials try an average of 46 new foods each year. Their priorities were cost (48%), nutrient density (46%), no artificial additives (40%), organic food (39%), and plant-based food (37%).
Not all millennials chose to eat out due to a lack of time (37%) or money (37%). 42% of them said they eat healthier when they cook for themselves. When they prepare meals at home, they gain inspiration from their friends (49%), parents (46%), and cookbooks (44%). Millennials were also using social media to post photos of their food in the past year (69%) and 26% took 10 or more photos that are “social media worthy.”
57% of millennials reported following a special diet such as vegan, keto, or Whole 30. They chose to follow a special diet because of the following: healthier for their body (67%), working to lose weight (53%), concerns about health problems/illnesses (48%), better for the environment/more sustainable (44%), and more ethical (37%).
Millennials also made 17 changes to their diet each year and some of these included eating healthier foods (46%), avoiding sugar/carbs (41%), focusing more on plant-based foods (36%), having alcohol-free weeks or months (34%), and cutting down on meat consumption (34%). 74% of millennials on a specialty said it was more difficult to eat at restaurants while 59% said they have felt judgment when ordering and purchasing food products that adhere to a special diet.
According to a 2019 report by the International Food Information Council Foundation, a nutrition and food source, and non-profit organization American Heart Association, 43% of consumers were always looking for healthy options when food shopping, compared to respondents who answered “sometimes” (52%) and “never” (5%).
When it comes to the healthfulness of food products, consumers tend to look at the Nutrition Fact panel/nutrition label (69%), the ingredient list (67%), nutrient content claims on the package (56%), statements about the absence of certain ingredients (54%), the price (50%), health claims on the package (49%), and the brand or company name (48%).
How to Practice Healthy Habits During the Quarantine
1. Aim for Low-Cost, Nutritious Food Items
"There's no discretionary money for discretionary calories, so make sure that everything you purchase and eat is as nutrient dense as possible,” stated Caroline Passerrello, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Therefore, it is recommended to opt for food products that are cheap but have high nutritional value such as eggs, dry beans, peanut butter, tortillas, and wheat bread. You can also purchase non-instant oatmeal, which is an inexpensive option that is loaded with calcium, iron, fiber, and B-vitamins. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are cheaper than perennial ones. Single ingredient canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are nutritious and are cheaper, Passerrello noted. Ground beef and chicken thighs or legs are less expensive options for those who want to keep meat in their diet.
This does not mean you are forbidden to consume cake, brownies, or chips, said Jessica Branch of Consumer Reports, a product reviews and ratings platform. But you can opt for healthier alternatives such as apple slices with peanut butter or guacamole. You can also add fresh or frozen food in a small bowl of ice cream.
2. Limit Highly-Processed foods
Using fresh produce may not always be possible, but UN agency UNICEF recommended limiting the amount of highly-processed foods you purchase. Packaged snacks, ready-to-eat meals, and desserts are usually high in sugar, saturated fat, and salt. If you decide to purchase processed foods, check the label and choose a product that contains less of the aforementioned substances. Avoid sugary drinks as much as possible and opt to drink water instead. If you find water too bland, add slices of cucumber, berries, lemon, or lime for that “extra twist of flavor.”
3. Stay Away From Booze
Anxiety and staying indoors can prompt you to overindulge. Drinking booze may make you feel better temporarily but drinking more than usual will lead to major calorie load. It can also affect your immune system. Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol can affect your good gut bacteria, interfering with sleep and impairing their ability to protect your body from disease.
Joyce A. Corsica, Ph.D., director of outpatient psychotherapy and director of bariatric psychology at Rush University advised, “If you have a glass of wine with dinner normally, it’s fine to keep doing that. Just go out of your way not to increase it.”
4. Create an Eating Schedule
Being stuck at home the whole day can result in overeating or snacking on foods that are not going to provide you with the nutrients you need. Corisca stated, “My general recommendation is three meals at minimum, and many benefit from snacks, too.”
It’s easier to stop yourself from eating due to boredom or anxiety when you know you have a meal planned in 45 minutes, she added. It is advisable to find a place at home where you can eat to maintain boundaries. For example, if you eat on the sofa or in bed, you will associate them with the act of eating, making you want to eat food on these places in the future.
Shopping for food depends on your schedule. If you plan to shop for groceries on a certain day, you can create a list containing all the food products you need at home. Listing may help reduce expenditure on food. You can also repurpose excess food so that you don’t have to frequently go to the grocery store.