Food Shopping Do’s and Don’ts for Coronavirus

Food Shopping Do’s and Don’ts for Coronavirus

Americans are clearing grocery store shelves in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But is the food you’re buying going to sabotage your brain and increase your feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, and stress, or is it going to fuel your brain so you can feel better and make better decisions? When shopping, don’t let your limbic (emotional) brain dictate what you should buy. Instead, let your prefrontal cortex (your brain’s CEO) help you make wiser food decisions. As you prepare for self-isolation or quarantine, here’s a list of what to put in your shopping cart and what to skip.

Don’t stock up on water in plastic bottles. Plastics contain bisphenol A (BPA), which is a toxin that can be absorbed into the body and can eventually affect the brain. The more exposure you have to these everyday toxins, the more you are putting your brain at risk and increasing your chances of mental health and memory issues. According to the CDC, COVID-19 has not been detected in the drinking water supply.

Do boil tap water before drinking if you’re concerned about chemicals lurking within, or get a home filter from an online retailer that will deliver.

Don’t buy white rice, pasta, cereal, bread, and flour tortillas. Although you may be tempted to grab these staples that have a long shelf life, they are simple carbohydrates that can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes that leave you feeling anxious, irritated, and hungrier.

Do opt for healthier options—when available—like quinoa, gluten-free oatmeal, gluten-free or sprouted bread or tortillas made with almond flour (you can put them in the freezer and toast or heat when ready to eat). Smart carbs offer sustainable energy that doesn’t cause blood sugar ups and downs.

Don’t fill your shopping cart with cookies, cupcake mix, and candies. As much as you might feel like you and your kids need a quick mood boost from sweet treats, it’s best to avoid foods with artificial dyes like red dye #40, preservatives, and sweeteners. In addition, children with ADD/ADHD may have an adverse reaction to them, and these items can increase hyperactivity in children who don’t have ADD/ADHD.

Do choose snacks like nuts and seeds, nut butters, and dark chocolate. And pick up some almond flour, if available, so you can do some healthy baking with the kids while you’re hunkering down at home.

Don’t buy frozen dinners or frozen pizzas. These are usually packed with sodium, may have trans fats, and are typically devoid of nutrients.

Do stock up on frozen vegetables, which are filled with antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamins and minerals.

Don’t buy canned fruits and vegetables because there is often BPA in the lining of the cans, and it can leach into the foods inside.

Do buy fresh produce and put whatever you won’t eat right away in the freezer. For example, put blueberries or raspberries in the freezer so you can add them to smoothies. Freeze broccoli, then use it in soups or stews. A recent study found that happiness is correlated with how many fruits and vegetables you eat. The more colorful fruits and vegetables you eat (up to eight servings a day) the happier you become—almost immediately. No antidepressant works this fast!

Don’t grab a gallon of milk and lots of sugary yogurts. Dairy is a potential allergen that research shows may increase depression, anxiety, stress, and memory.

Do select milk alternatives like almond, coconut, oat, or hemp.

Don’t stock up on processed meats that are cured or smoked, such as bacon, hot dogs, or salami. They may last longer, but they may contain unhealthy fats, nitrites, and other compounds that can increase inflammation, which is associated with an increased risk for several mental health conditions.

Do spend on high-quality protein powder that you can use to make brain healthy protein smoothies using all those nutrient-packed fruits and veggies you put in the freezer.

Don’t spend money on sodas, energy drinks, or pre-made smoothies. They are full of sugar, artificial colors, and artificial sweeteners that will hijack your brain.

Do purchase relaxing herbal teas like chamomile, and get some flavored stevia, a natural sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels the way regular sugar does.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or other mental health issues, you aren’t alone—45% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their mental health. Just because you’re sheltering at home doesn’t mean you have to wait for the pandemic to be over before seeking help. In fact, during these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting to get treatment is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time. 

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples, as well as in-clinic brain scanning to help our patients. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk


  1. hi amen, hope you are all well,you have been doing brains for a long time now can you tell me you can find where the kidney ,liver, spleen ,
    heart ,stomach cells are in the brain and might have cancer cells
    kind regards

    Comment by gerald hogan — March 30, 2020 @ 3:55 AM

  2. a caution about ”Gluten Free Breads” : Most are made from highly processed& highGlycemic index RiceFlour/ WhiteRiceFlour which is even higher Glyceminc index : ( i’ve got to read all the fine print on the packages to find any wheatFreeBread that doesn’t spike my blood sugar..& i always have a serving of legumes in the same meal to try to lower that glycemic index further by the amino acids combining to make complete protein…

    Comment by jacqueline — March 30, 2020 @ 4:36 AM

  3. A shout of thanks to you and your staff for sharing quality information so that we the people can become educated in health sciences and be come aware of the brain,mind and gut connection… God’s grace and blessings to each and every one of you…


    Comment by Madeline — March 30, 2020 @ 6:35 AM

  4. Great information. Thanks. I have an on going problem with IBS-for years. Any ideas that would help me??

    Comment by Candace — March 30, 2020 @ 8:32 AM

  5. Thank you for the article. Informative as always but I’d like to suggest 1 edit:

    “Do boil tap water before drinking if you’re concerned about chemicals lurking within, or get a home filter from an online retailer that will deliver”

    Boiling water that contains chemicals may actually concentrate the chemicals more if they vaporize at a higher temperature than water. Use a filter for chemical contamination and boil only if biological contamination is suspected…and yes, some filters will also take out biologicals depending on the size of the filtration penetration.

    Comment by Craig Jones — March 30, 2020 @ 12:49 PM

  6. Thank you for confirming I am eating the right foods except for Hermit cookies. Way too tasty. Problem now is getting things done. More to do than food prep and dishes to wash. Haven’t done taxes and stuff everywhere matches my stressed and depressed brain with lousy executive function. I make lists but do stuff not on them. It helps if I set timers for projects but don’t just start on one. Waste so much time. Rather read your posts. Just need to do them. I tend to read to take me away from the madness of this virus and feel awful cuz I’m not helping in some way. How do I get out of this?

    Comment by Sandra Northrop — April 15, 2020 @ 7:45 AM

  7. Thankyou for sharing all this useful information! I am so glad that I have learned an out about Dr. Amen . I have been reading up on lots of the linked articles containing so much useful information about brain scans and oxygen and blood flow to the brain that help in identifying and diagnosing specific issues. I am concerned with memory loss, brain fog and I have sleep issues and anxiety and I have also had three very long back surgeries where I was under general anesthesia for long periods of time. I was so glad to read up on on the linked articles that address these concerning issues they are very very informative. Thankyou for sharing all this knowledgeable information!

    Comment by Christine Garafola — May 8, 2020 @ 5:14 AM

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