During the coronavirus pandemic and these uncertain times, it is important to focus on what we know and what we can control — like nutrition! We can take charge of what we eat and how we nourish our body by shopping smart, following AICR’s New American Plate model, practicing proper hygiene and staying active.
Here are a few simple and effective tips for when you head out for your next shopping trip.
- Use sanitizer wipes to clean your cart or basket before you start shopping.
- Go to the store less often to avoid contact with others. Many major retailers have incorporated special hours for seniors, who are at high-risk for contracting COVID-19 so that they can shop more comfortably.
- Practice physical distancing. If you are out, keep at least 6 feet between you and other people. Avoid self-check-out stations that are used by many people and go to a cashier instead to limit exposure to different surfaces.
Keep in Mind AICR’s New American Plate
At the center of AICR’s New American Plate is a variety of colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Eating these foods will provide your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which can help you stay healthy and protect against cancer.
Vegetables and Fruit
- Fresh vegetables and fruit have always been part of a healthy diet, but frozen produce is also a nutritious, inexpensive option with a longer shelf-life. Frozen produce is flash frozen at the peak of the produce’s nutritional quality, so you won’t miss out on essential vitamins and minerals. You can add frozen veggies to soups, stews, one-pot meals and casseroles. Frozen fruit is great to throw into a smoothie or mix with your morning oatmeal.
- Don’t forget about canned vegetables and fruit. If you are choosing this option, look for vegetables canned in water with no added salt and fruit canned in 100% natural juice with no added sugars. Canned veggies and fruit can be added to any meal to provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. For example, canned tomatoes contain a variety of nutrients including vitamins C and E, potassium and fiber. They are also loaded with the powerful antioxidants beta-carotene and lycopene.
- If you are choosing fresh fruits and veggies, some of those with a longer shelf life include carrots, celery, bell peppers, kale and cauliflower. Others that you can keep on your counter include citrus fruits, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic and onions. Aim to eat a rainbow of colors!
- Choose whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and 100% whole-wheat bread. Whole grains are not only healthier than processed grains, but provide more fiber and nutrients to help keep you full. Research shows that eating whole grains also helps protect against colorectal cancer.
- You can use whole grains in a variety of ways — toss them into soups, salads and stir-fry or use them as a substitute in any recipe that calls for a refined grain. Whole grains typically have a long shelf life, so you can keep oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and whole grain pasta in your pantry for a quick, go-to whole grain option.
- Beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, along with lean proteins such as fish, chicken and turkey, are all great options to have on hand and also fit into AICR’s New American Plate. Choose canned or dried beans and lentils, a variety of unsalted nuts like walnuts or almonds, and nut butters such as peanut, almond or cashew butter. Other high-quality protein sources include eggs and tuna canned in water.
Practice Proper Hygiene
Practicing proper hygiene is one of the biggest defenses against germs and bacteria. Here are some good habits to practice:
- Wash your hands frequently. Be sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap for best results.
- Clean surfaces that you come into contact with. Use anti-bacterial cleansers to clean floors, tables and counter tops.
Being physically active has numerous health benefits, including reducing your cancer risk. Here are some guidelines for staying active:
- Walk more, sit less. Aim to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity per day through a variety of activities. Get creative — walk or run up and down the stairs or try using common household objects such as canned beans or veggies in place of weights.
- During the month of April, AICR is challenging individuals to “Get Active” for 150 minutes every week through AICR’s online Strava Club. No matter your age or fitness level, this challenge is open to everyone! You can track your activities, connect with friends and family and be part of an online community that will keep you motivated. Learn more about Strava and how to join the challenge here.
While this difficult time presents many challenges, we can focus on maintaining or improving our lifestyle habits to stay healthy. Take this opportunity to experiment with new recipes, try new activities and virtually connect with family and friends!