COVID-19- Nutrition Tips

Similar to when we gain the “Freshman 15”, we are now having new experiences that can potentially lead to gaining the “COVID-19” Whether sheltering in place or providing care as an essential employee, this unique situation filled with stress and anxiety lends itself to developing unhealthy behaviors. Below are some steps you can take to help maintain both your physical and mental health.

Create Structure— when staying at home, it is easy to graze throughout the day instead of eating set meals and snacks. It is important to set a mealtime schedule and stick to it. This may be a good time to take advantage of not having afterschool activities and other errands– plan a nutritious dinner and reconnect as a family around the table. Just as important as your meals, plan out your snacks as well and make sure to practice good portion control.

Stock your Pantry and Fridge Strategically— it is important to keep items on hand so that you can prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family. Stock your pantry with non- perishables such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice or ancient grains, canned beans, canned tuna packed in water, whole grain cereal and crackers, tomato sauce, popcorn kernels, and fruit cups packed in juice. Try to limit chips and cookies to just one variety to help avoid overeating empty calories. Load up your fridge and freezer with eggs, low fat milk, yogurt, cheese, frozen vegetables, frozen fish/chicken/lean ground turkey, and frozen waffles/pancakes. Keep fresh pro- duce on hand that does not spoil quickly such as apples, oranges, green bananas, baby carrots, celery and potatoes.

Allow One Treat Each Day— it’s great to have something to look forward to without over- indulging. Leave the container and take out a single portion so you are not tempted to eat more. This is also a great time to get your kids in the kitchen so they can help bake cookies, frost cup- cakes, etc. Consider baking from scratch so you can substitute some healthier ingredients.

Maintain Hydration— thirst can easily be confused with hunger, especially when we are looking to snack out of boredom. Most adults require around 2L or 68 ounces of fluids each day, and it is recommended to choose mostly calorie-free options. Remember that your morning coffee or soup for lunch contribute to your overall fluid intake. Consider saving a one or two liter bottle and refilling it with your calorie-free beverage of choice to help track your daily intake.

Written by: Julie Tasher, RD

How to Reduce Inflammation by Changing your Diet

Swelling and inflammation are problems that can lead to the pain you are feeling.  To help decrease inflammation, and therefore pain, it is important to follow a healthy, well-balanced diet. The Food Guide Pyramid can help you to make wise choices by including a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and eating sugar, sodium and fat in moderation. It is also important to choose more fresh foods and limit processed foods, as these have been known to lead to inflammation.

Grains:

  • Choose whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole grain cereals.
  • Try to avoid processed or refined grains- meaning that they are white and the good parts (fiber and B-vitamins) have been removed.

Vegetables and Fruits:

  • All are good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Make sure to get a variety of color to get all of the nutrients and aim for at least 5 servings daily.
  • Vitamin C
  • An antioxidant that fights inflammation
  • Supports healthy connective tissue
  • Involved in collagen formation
  • Sources: broccoli, melons, oranges, mango, sweet potato, spinach, collard and mustard greens, strawberries, red bell peppers, kiwi, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes
    • Magnesium
    • Works with calcium to promote bone formation
    • Sources: seeds, nuts, legumes, unrefined cereal grains, dark green leafy vegetables
      • Antioxidants and Phytochemicals
      • Have anti-inflammatory properties
      • Choose berries and other brightly colored fruit and vegetables
        • Boron
        • Some studies have shown this trace mineral to help with osteoarthritis
        • Helps cartilage and bone to absorb calcium
        • Sources: apples, legumes, leafy vegetables, carrots, pears, grapes, grains, some drinking water

Fats and Oils:

  • Total fat 25-35% of calories
  • Choose healthy fats from unsaturated sources
    • Olive oil has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation – can be used in place of vegetable oil in baking
    • Focus on Omega-3 fatty acids
      • Powerful anti-inflammatory agent
      • Sources: cold water oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, herring, sardines, lake trout), walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, soybeans
      • Speak to your doctor if you are interested in adding fish oil for flax supplements
      • Limit saturated fat from animal sources to less than 7% of total calories
        • An 1800 calorie meal plan should have <60 grams total fat and <14 grams saturated fat

Dairy:

  • Choose low fat or fat free dairy products daily
    • Low fat calcium products have been found to promote wt loss
    • Calcium
      • Contributes to positive bone growth and maintenance of bone density
      • Sources: low fat/fat free milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy milk and orange juice, dark green leafy vegetables, canned sardines and salmon with bones
      • Vitamin D
        • Low levels of vitamin D can lead to more rapid progression of osteoarthritis
        • Sources: fish-liver oil, butter and cream, egg yolks, liver, fortified milk and dairy products, fortified cereals

Protein:

  • Needed to build healthy tissues
  • Choose lean poultry, fish and seafood, nuts, legumes and seeds
  • Fatty red meat may trigger inflammation- choose lean cuts and limit
  • Soy proteins
    • May held reduce pain and inflammation
    • Sources: soybeans, soy nuts, tofu and soy milk
    • Try to limit processed soy foods
Foog Guide Pyramid
Food Guide Pyramid

Written by Julie Katz, Registered Dietitian- Baltimore, MD