A Dietitians guide to Quarantine Meals and Immunity

Eating and staying well during quarantine

HIIIIII GUYS! I hope you are all doing well. When I asked you guys if you wanted to see a blog post talking about foods to have on hand and meal ideas during this crazy time, I got an overwhelming YES! So here we go!

I just want to say, just because a lot of people are home and quarantined does not mean you should stop eating healthy. In fact this is probably the time that you WANT to be eating healthy food to step your immunity up! A diet rich in fruits and veggies and high quality protein can boost your immune system in more ways than one. But also DON’T STRESS IT! We all have good days and bad days, and if you can’t or don’t want to eat healthy a day or 2, THAT’S OK! We’re all in this together, and none of us are perfect! It’s better to eat anything than stress about eating perfectly healthy.

A few other tidbits before we get into the real food! (no pun intended)

Keeping your stress levels low is a great way to keep your immune system up. High levels of the main stress hormone, cortisol, can wreak havoc on the body. There are many ways to reduce stress hormones and if you want to try alternative medicine I would look into adaptogens and essential oils specifically. Through food, fruits, dark chocolate, green tea, and omega 3 rich foods are also ways to reduce stress hormones. Most importantly, if it’s affecting you too much, just turn off the news, stay off social media, do something that makes you feel good, and you’ll find that you’ll feel a lot better.. TRUST ME!

Sleep is also a very important factor in immunity. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. If you have a racing mind, I have found meditation apps have been very helpful. There is also a “Sleep with Me” Podcast that is great to drown out your thoughts. I find the keeping a pad of paper near my bed is great for jotting down ideas/thoughts that pop up when I am trying to get to sleep. The act of writing them out removes them from your mind so you can ease into dreamland!

Exercise when you can, it’s also a great stress hormone reducer and immunity booster. When you can’t get outside, just YouTube or Pinterest workouts that you can do in your home. I have loved Blogilates for YEARS, she has some great workouts that you can do right from your yoga mat!

Let’s also talk supplements!

Supplements are great if you can’t or don’t get your proper nutrition from the foods you eat. It’s ALWAYS better to get your vitamins and mineral from food, because there are many more constituents present in foods that we don’t even know about that have major benefits to our bodies! (Read the book “in defense of food” it’s one of my favorite nutrition books!). But, like I said, if you can’t get everything from food right now, don’t stress it! That being said, there are a few vitamins and minerals that are important in keeping your immunity up including vitamins A, D, C, Zinc, and probiotics. It is possible to overdose on supplements (yes even the water soluble ones), so just keep that in mind. More supplements is not necessarily better.

Foods rich in Vitamin A: aside from dark green leafy vegetables, vitamin A is found in foods with an orange color such as sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers, mango; and also beef liver, cod liver oil.

Foods rich in Vitamin D: while it is best to get your vitamin D from the sun (~15-20 minutes per day without sunscreen), when that is not a viable option, you’ll find vitamin D in dairy products, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Vitamin D supplementation is best if you live in a place where the sun is not strong enough. I take this vitamin D supplement.

Foods rich in Vitamin C: CITRUS! Bell peppers, Cantaloupe, broccoli, strawberries, Kiwi, and Mango.

Foods rich in Zinc: Meat, shellfish, oysters, beans, and mushrooms

Foods rich in Probiotics: Yogurt, Kombucha, Kimchi, and any fermented foods.

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Foods that I have on hand:

I have been trying to get as many of my groceries via delivery as I can, but when delivery is not an option I have ordered non perishables from places like Target and Amazon. While target was sold out of a lot when this first started, their stock is coming back little by little.

TIPS: when getting canned foods, be sure to strain out the liquids and rinse under cool water to avoid adding excess sugar or salt to your cooking- especially if you can’t get canned foods without added sugar or salt. When cooking veggies, never submerge them in water, this will cause the veggies to leach their nutrients into the water which will be thrown down the drain. If your making a soup or stew and will eat the liquids that the veggies are cooked in, then it’s ok to submerge them in liquid, other wise steaming/roasting/frying is best.

Frozen vegetables

Canned vegetables

Bean based pasta

Regular pasta

Rice

Beans- canned and or dried

yeast

flour

yogurt

 

Meal ideas:

If you have been following me on instagram, I have been posting my dinner in stories  every single night for the last few weeks. I have also been watching food videos on youtube from the Food Network and Bon Appetit.

Keeping your meals balanced is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most benefits from your food. Imagine your plate divided in half- make half your plate veggies, any kind of veggies in the way you know you’ll eat them- then divide the other half of your plate again and make 1/4 of your plate a protein, lean is best, but at this point, whatever you can get is good enough; and the other 1/4 a carb- think bread, quinoa, rice, pasta. Keeping this strategy in mind when you’re thinking of a meal to eat will always keep your meals balanced.

 

I hope this post helps! We’re all in this together and I hope you and your families are healthy and safe

 

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