7 Tips for Eating Healthy During a Coronavirus Quarantine

BY MOLLY KIMBALL, RD, CSSD Published: March 9, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is in the United States, and people are taking extra care in public spaces. Maybe you’re playing it even safer by staying home for a couple of weeks, either by choice or doctor’s orders.

If you’re quarantined at home, it’s important to eat healthy foods. You can get creative if you’re feeling well. Keep it simple if you’re not. Stock up on easy ways to soak up the nutrients.

1. Gather your favorite fruits and veggies.

Fruits and vegetables get your immune system in fighting shape. Chop and store fresh vegetables now or buy pre-cut packages to save prep time. It’s a good idea to buy frozen fruits and vegetables too. They’re nutritious, and you won’t have to worry about them spoiling.

  • Add spinach and berries (or other fruit) to smoothies.
  • Top oatmeal or Greek yogurt with fresh or defrosted berries.
  • Toss colorful veggies together to make salad, stir-fry, wraps and omelets.
  • Avoid frozen foods packed in sauces. Punch up the flavor with spices or a delicious dip.

2. Power up with protein.

Keep up your strength and fight fatigue by eating lean protein. It’s not just for dinner. Add protein to breakfast and snacks too. 

  • Add frozen shrimp to stir-fry or zucchini noodles.
  • Grill fresh fish, meat, skinless chicken or veggie burgers.
  • Heat up frozen grilled chicken.
  • Use guacamole in a pouch or tub on eggs, toast, salad or wraps. (Fresh avocados spoil quickly.)
  • Avoid fatty cuts of meat, battered fish or chicken and sugary nut butters.

3. Stock up on soup and beans.

You can make a pot of soothing soup or beans then freeze in several smaller containers. Or try healthy, convenient boxed and canned options.

Don’t have Grandma’s chicken soup recipe? Try this easy, slow cooker Mexican chicken soup.

Save time with an electric pressure cooker recipe, like this black and red lentil chili.

Reach for boxed soups, especially ones made with bone broth. These have up to 11 times more protein than soups made with other broth.

Try Blue Runner creole cream style red beans (no salt added).

Avoid packaged soups or beans loaded with sodium.

4. Pack in the probiotics.

Probiotics are “good bacteria” that offer several health benefits. Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods, such as:

  • Greek yogurt: Look for plain, low fat (2%).
  • Top with fruit or add to smoothies.
  • Use as a base for dips or creamed spinach.
  • Sauerkraut: Look for refrigerated kinds or make your own.
  • Avoid added sugar.
  • Avoid canned versions; the process kills probiotics.
  • Kombucha: Look for unpasteurized, preservative-free brands.
  • Look for “live active cultures” on the label.
  • Choose flavors lower in calories and sugar.

5. Be ready for comfort food cravings.

What do you reach for when you’re sick, tired or bored? It’s likely something starchy, creamy, crunchy or sweet — and not very healthy. Know your favorite go-tos and be ready with healthier swaps:

Something starchy? Try this sweet potato casserole.

Crave creaminess? Here’s a creamy cauliflower garlic soup.

Need a crunch? Try Beanitos instead of tortilla chips. Switch saltines with Triscuit Thin Crisps. Mary’s Gone Crackers and Van’s Crackers are great gluten-free choices.

Sweet tooth? Soothe it with a protein-rich ice cream alternative or dark chocolate (70% or higher).

Even with healthy swaps remember to practice portion control.

6. Stay hydrated.

Fluids help thin mucus, flush out germs, and keep your digestion and immune system running smoothly. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces of fluid. That’s 80 ounces of liquid for a 160-pound person.

It’s easier than you might think to reach your goal:

Broths, smoothies and Greek yogurt count toward your fluid total.

Sugar-free sports drinks and electrolyte tablets add flavor and minerals. I like BODYARMOR Lite and Nuun tablets.

Squeeze a little lemon, lime or orange into your water or tea for flavor and vitamin C.

7. Call for backup.

No matter how well you prepare, you’re bound to forget or run out of something. Stay home. Instead, use grocery delivery or ask a friend for a favor. Either way you can shop and pay online, then have items dropped off on your doorstep. Just don’t open the door until the coast is clear.

Download the Eat Fit app for more ideas.

Find recipes, shopping lists, brand name suggestions and more. Search “Eat Fit” in the App Store or on Google Play.

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