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Making Healthy Grocery Store Choices For Sheltering In Place

Fresh is best, but some canned, frozen and packaged food can also provide nutrition.

The current shelter-in-place order meant stocking up on food, but the initial run on area grocery stores has since made that task difficult. Some suggestions for nutritious buying.

Finding the items and specific brands you like may prove difficult, but Rachel Trammell, a registered dietitian with Parkland Hospital, says there are plenty of good choices to be had.

“In the past, a lot of different maybe social media influencers, people like that will demonize things like canned food, frozen food, packaged food,” she says, “and a lot of times those foods can be great sources of nutrition and sources of calories and that's a good thing.”


Canned Food:

If you can find “no salt added” canned food, that's amazing, but if you can't that's okay. It's not a big deal. Things like canned vegetables like carrots, peas, corn, and also canned beans are a really good source of nutrition that we can overlook sometimes.

About Canned Vegetables:

  • There's really no vegetable that's better than others as far as nutrition per se, but you do always want to think of things like starch content of your food if you have issues like diabetes because you want to make sure that you're not causing more stress on our bodies.
  • Things like corn and peas are higher in starch than vegetables like green beans. So green beans would be a superior choice if you're trying to limit the carbohydrates that you're eating.

Following The Basic Food Groups:

It doesn't necessarily have to completely guide everything that you're purchasing, but it's a good idea. And thinking about basic food groups can also take a lot of stress out of meal prep, especially if you're trying to make food for multiple people or people that have health conditions.

Meat Substitutions:

So you could do eggs, which also are not exactly in the most available situation at the moment, but you could do things like nut butter. Um, you could do fish, you could do maybe some cheese, things like that. And also don't forget that canned meats actually are also great.

There’s Value In Comfort Food:

It's really important to remember that we need to give ourselves a lot of grace right now because it's a very stressful time and your body usually uses a lot more resources when it's stressed. So sometimes it's important to remember that we can comfort ourselves with the food that we eat. Maybe something that's a little more starchy or something that makes you remember a childhood or makes you just feel better about things is not a bad thing.

One More Thing:

While it's important to be mindful of what we're eating, this is definitely not the time to diet or restrict calories too much. Our bodies consume more calories when we're stressed. So it is very important to eat enough food so that we're ready for the day and can support our families and loved ones.


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Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.