Grab and Go: 10 Nutrition Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Help keep your body nourished and strong by sticking to healthy eating habits. Nutrition is an important part of every child’s healthy growth and development as well as the care for many patients with a chronic condition.

See below for mindful tips to stick to your nutrition goals during this outbreak. If you have questions or concerns about your health, diet or nutrition (or the health, diet or nutrition of your child), please contact your (or your child’s) healthcare professional.

  1. It is OK to follow a daily routine for eating (or NOT): but remember to stick to the foods that make you feel good. Routines may be disturbed and meal/snack times may be shared with other family members, but don’t forget about providing your body with nutrient dense foods. Aim to include a balanced diet comprised of whole grains, lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotic-rich sources, and foods containing omega 3-fatty acids. These are foundations of an anti-inflammatory diet, which is important for children with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as general health and immune system support. Meal planning and prepping can still be a valuable tool despite a change in your daily schedule. 
  2. Practice good hand hygiene when handling food and before/after meals and snacks: remember to sing happy birthday twice.
  3. Don’t skip out on fruits and vegetables: wash produce well and avoid produce with bruised skin - especially strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes, what are known as the 2020 Dirty Dozen. Buying frozen produce can keep produce handy for recipes.
  4. Looking for a boost? Antioxidants are your friends! Foods with wonderful dark or bright colors often contain antioxidants. Choose long lasting fruits and vegetables such as: apples, lemons/limes, potatoes, squash, and oranges. Remember Vitamin C (citrus fruits and leafy greens) can enhance iron absorption. Patients with IBD are particularly susceptible to Iron Deficiency Anemia due to a combination of impaired gastrointestinal tract absorption and failure to adequately ingest iron-rich foods.
  5. Move over condiments: Use fresh herbs and spices to zest up meals. Several condiments (including dressings, cheese dips, and syrups) contain added artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), trans fats, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Swap your condiments with fresh herbs and spices including: ginger, rosemary, dill, mint, and basil. Perhaps a fun activity could be to start your own mini garden or plant seeds.
  6. Get creative with homemade meals: don’t be timid to step out of the box and try new items. Try to recreate some of your favorite restaurant recipes and put your own spin on it! Use canned pantry items, such as canned beans, to create a homemade hummus or falafel. Consider making and freezing recipes to have at a later time to help with meal planning. Enjoy recipes from CHOP dietitians found here. Anti-inflammatory recipes can be found here. Ketogenic recipes can be found here.
  7. Limit overeating processed foods: pre-slice fruits and place into the refrigerator for a quick and convenient snack... instead of reaching for those bag of chips. Processed foods likely contain ingredients such as added sugar, sugar alcohols, preservatives, and food dyes. Have leftover snacks with only a few crumbs left in the bag? Create your own trail mix with pretzel pieces, peanut butter chips, and cereals.
  8. Increase dietary fiber: Ever want to try to make cauliflower pizza, zoodles, or a chickpea omelette but never had the time? Dust off the apron and peel those vegetables. Remember, choosing well-cooked fruits or vegetables may assist with digestion and to ensure you drink adequate water each day to maintain hydration.
  9. Don’t take a break from consuming calcium rich foods: full fat Greek yogurt, milk, and a serving of cheese can make for a nice addition to snack time. Try homemade yogurt! Get creative with new smoothie recipes to include some calcium containing fruits & vegetables including: kale, collard greens, bok choy (pairs great with mango), and oranges.
  10. Have fun in the kitchen: include your child in kid-friendly approved kitchen tasks. Make it fun for the entire family. Plan a theme night! Always choose foods that make you feel good and avoid those that cause discomfort.