Here's What Nutritionists Recommend Eating During Quarantine

Even though you might crave potato chips, try these foods during quarantine.

Posted Jul 26, 2020

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Potato chips, banana bread, and wine — the grocery shopping list of the COVID-19 pandemic is a sign that people are craving comfort foods now more than ever. The disruption of work routine, increased time indoors, social isolation, and boredom have led to increased levels of stress, which in turn, has skyrocketed food cravings, overeating, and increased consumption of alcohol.

Comfort food cravings typically include sugary or salty snacks that often are processed carbohydrates. While eating such carbohydrates initially self-medicates stress in the short-term, continuing to eat these foods in the long-term can be harmful both physically and psychologically, leading to increased chronic inflammation, uneven blood sugar levels, and a depressed mood.

A recent article published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends specific nutritional foods to combat the stress of quarantine and isolation.

1. Eat foods that naturally contain serotonin and melatonin in the evening. These foods can promote better sleep: bananas, cherries, almonds, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, lean turkey, and oats. Protein-containing foods like milk or milk products like plain unsweetened yogurt are also helpful before bedtime, keeping blood sugar levels steady overnight.

2. Eat fruits and vegetables that contain natural antioxidants.

Beta-carotene: sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables

Vitamin C: red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, mangoes, lemons

Vitamin E: vegetable oils (soybean, sunflower, corn, wheat germ, and walnut), nuts, seeds, spinach, and broccoli

3. Spend more time outdoors to get vitamin D and eat foods with vitamin D. Sunlight exposure promotes the natural production of vitamin D in the body — an important vitamin that has been associated with improved immune response and energy. Supplement outdoor activity with foods that contain this important vitamin.

Vitamin D: fish, liver, egg yolk and foods with added vitamin D (e.g., milk, yogurt)

4. Zinc improves immune function and can be found naturally in foods.

Zinc: Oysters, poultry, red meat, pine nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, Brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and lentils

5. Be aware of your levels of alcohol intake.

Alcohol is associated with increased chronic inflammation, slowed cognition and memory, and it worsens both anxiety and depression. Alcohol in the evenings also disrupts restful sleep and causes one to wake up earlier than usual in the morning.

As everyone goes through this difficult time together, try taking these steps to build healthy eating habits to improve your physical health and overall mood.

Check out my previous articles on how to eat for a better mood:

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Marlynn Wei, MD, PLLC Copyright 2020