How to shop safely during lockdown and put healthy products first

A guide to buying cheap, nutritious food – safely – while in self-isolation.

How to shop safely during lockdown

There are two important aspects of food shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic – how to do it safely and how to make sure items are cheap and healthy.

You know the drill on leaving home: keep your distance from others and wash your hands as soon as possible after touching any surfaces. The experts also suggest the following when grocery shopping:

  • Plan your trip by making a list so you minimise the time spent in the store.
  • Shop at quieter times to avoid a crowd.
  • If possible, wipe down the trolley or basket you use with disinfectant.
  • Use credit or debit cards instead of cash.
  • Wash commonly touched items such as cards, keys, and phones after your trip.
  • If you organise delivery, ask the courier to leave the groceries outside your door.

Now that you have your blitzkrieg shopping plan, what should you buy?

Heart Foundation director of health strategy Julie Anne Mitchell reminds us to choose wisely.

“It’s more important than ever to keep up healthy habits and eat nutritious foods during this time, and it doesn’t have to break the bank,” she says.

She says choosing “heart-healthy” foods saves money and avoids food wastage. “Frozen vegetables, brown rice, chickpeas and tinned fish are just a few staples you can keep on hand for healthy and budget-friendly meals at home.”

The Heart Foundation wants us to cut back on highly processed products and buy fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, a variety of healthy proteins and fats, and smaller amounts of animal-based foods.

Heart disease is our No.1 killer and poor diet its No.1 contributing factor. This pandemic attacks our immune systems, making diet more crucial than ever. Here are some suggestions on how to buy the right foods.

  • Stocktake. Assess what you have in your fridge and pantry and buy only what you know you will use. “When stocking up, focus on things that you and your household enjoy eating, and recipes you’ll have the time and energy to prepare,” says Caroline West Passerrello, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  • Be colourful. Eating more fruit and vegetables is vital and the more colourful the mix the better. “Frozen or canned vegetables and fruits are good alternatives when fresh produce is hard to buy or too expensive, and they keep for longer,” says Ms Mitchell. “If you are buying canned versions, try to choose the ‘no added salt’ or ‘low salt’ versions. Pick fruits canned in juice, not syrup.”
  • Promote plant protein. Tinned beans, lentils, chickpeas, eggs and tinned fish are cheaper, healthier options that are easy to prepare.
  • The big freeze. Make industrial-sized portions of simple but tasty foods such as chilli, soups, sauces and baked goods and freeze them for a busier day.
  • Smart snack attacks. Food coach Jeannette Bessinger says with self-isolation limiting our movements, there should be less need for between-meal extras. “However, if you do have snacks or dessert, be conscious of the portion size and take the time to really enjoy it. It’s okay to seek comfort in food, as many of us do, but mindlessly munching with no concept of quantity is where things go wrong. Eat it slower, let yourself taste it, and let yourself be comforted,” she says.
  • If you do snack, try protein-dense nuts, seeds, dehydrated kale chips, fruit or homemade popcorn.
  • Hydrate. Sugary drinks add weight and water is healthier and can help sate hunger. It’s also free. And drink more tea. Oolong, for example, is noted for its metabolism-boosting effects. And it’s mostly hot water.
  • Establish a routine. “Our metabolisms are like toddlers, they thrive on routine,” says Ms Bessinger. She advises “consistent sleep schedules, eating schedules and allowing for 13 hours between the last time you eat at night and the first time you eat in the morning …”
  • Forgive yourself. It’s normal to crave ‘comfort foods’ in times of stress, but emotional eating will eventually decline. Don’t obsess about gaining weight or make eating an added stress. “In acute times of stress we release cortisol … and prolonged stress, which is what we are now experiencing [gives us] elevated cortisol, which increases hunger,” said Christian Gonzalez, naturopathic doctor and integrative oncologist based in Mountain View, California. “The prolonged mental stress signals our body that food may be scarce, and when that is not the case, we begin to graze, snack and overeat.” You might want to try the ‘80/20 rule’, or eating well 80 per cent of the time, and allowing yourself treats 20 per cent of the time. Or allow yourself one treat per day.
  • Research. If you have time on your hands, google recipes and health tips. There are plenty of sources of good nutrition and thrifty shopping hints online.

 

Are you being extra careful to shop safely? Has your diet changed?

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COMMENTS

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Lindtay
20th Apr 2020
5:24pm
This doesn’t tell me when the safest time to shop is, which is in the preview. Annoyed.
Alexia
20th Apr 2020
5:32pm
True Lin, when is that time?
Blossom
22nd Apr 2020
1:18am
If you have a Seniors Card, Pension Card or Drivers License which shows your date of birth Coles and Woolworths have some days that you can shop in the quiet time from 7.00 am to 8.00am. Some are Monday, Wednesday and Friday but check with your Supermarket. Some have some the other days for Frontline workers such as Medical Personell amd Emergency Services Personell. I believe that Bunnings may also introduce Quiet time shopping too. For those who want to some other Supermarkets besides Coles and Woolworths are offering on-line shopping.
Paddington
20th Apr 2020
6:25pm
Either get a delivery or do click and collect!
saintagnes
20th Apr 2020
6:46pm
Well what exactly is meant by quieter times. And how exactly does a quiet time make it safer
FrankC
21st Apr 2020
10:54am
Coles and Wolloies have Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 7 am to 8 am set aside for seniors to shop when it is less crowded. I went on a Friday about a fortnight ago, and there were 18 of us.. I would consider that a quiet time, wouldn;t you ?
Pardelope
24th Apr 2020
7:05pm
Dear saintagnes, the covid 19 virus is airborne and can settle on people or objects where it can survive for minutes, hours, or days - depending on the conditions. It can enter our bodies mainly through contact with our eyes, noses, throats. It can be transferred from objects by our hands - or near contacts with other people. Seeing it is airborne from our breath, coughing, sneezing, we need to keep as much distance between us as possible at all times.
Quiet times are when there are less humans around. That might be early morning or late at night. It might be after the lunchtime rush and before the Mums with their kids are around. Some shops have set aside certain times for the elderly and disabled so that they are less likely to come in contact with other people at checkouts, queues, public transport etc. Be sensible and keep well.
saintagnes
20th Apr 2020
6:46pm
Well what exactly is meant by quieter times. And how exactly does a quiet time make it safer
Darts44
20th Apr 2020
7:14pm
Pity, some people can't figure out anything by themself.
Jen50
21st Apr 2020
11:57am
I put a plastic container (a caddy) with a bottle of strong hand sanitiser, Glen 20, anti-bacterial wipes, plastic gloves and paper towels in the boot of the car when I go to the 7-8 a.m. senior’s shopping hour at Coles. I wear a homemade mask, clean the trolley handle thoroughly with sanitise my hands, use a touch card (without actually touching the screen), I only handle goods once (no picking up & putting back), I put goods straight into the trolley at checkout (no bags), I open the boot of the car, clean my hands, put the shopping into bags, clean my hands again, get the caddy out, shut the boot door with a wipe in my hand, clean it at the same time, open car door with a wipe, put the caddy in the passenger seat, take the trolley back holding the handle with wipes, return to car and clean anything I might have touched, including keys. I use a similar method when I get home (wipe in hand to open & shut doors, etc.), I leave all shopping in the car for a few hours except for fridge & freezer goods. I wash everything I can with warm soapy water (except for some types of fruit & leafy vegetables but wash them immediately before use, as usual) & dry them thoroughly. I use one side of the sink for ‘dirty’ goods and the other side for cleaned goods. Then I thoroughly wash all surfaces I used with soap then throw all the cloths, tea towells & nylon shopping bags in the washing machine. Then I have a shower, wash my hair and change my clothes. Done. It takes ages, but I’ve got plenty of time.
Darts44
21st Apr 2020
1:54pm
That should be the minimum recommended.
Pardelope
24th Apr 2020
7:06pm
Dear saintagnes, the covid 19 virus is airborne and can settle on people or objects where it can survive for minutes, hours, or days - depending on the conditions. It can enter our bodies mainly through contact with our eyes, noses, throats. It can be transferred from objects by our hands - or near contacts with other people. Seeing it is airborne from our breath, coughing, sneezing, we need to keep as much distance between us as possible at all times.
Quiet times are when there are less humans around. That might be early morning or late at night. It might be after the lunchtime rush and before the Mums with their kids are around. Some shops have set aside certain times for the elderly and disabled so that they are less likely to come in contact with other people at checkouts, queues, public transport etc. Be sensible and keep well.


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