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!
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.