With experts suggesting “panic buying” has peaked, a trip to the grocery store remains nowhere near normal.
If you’re running out of food and supplies, it’s a good idea to be prepared to encounter a new shopping experience.
For those of you with chronic health conditions that could increase your risk for COVID-19, like being 65 or older, having conditions like heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, or immunosuppressive disorders, consider talking to a family member or neighbor about doing your shopping.
If that is not an option, many stores are offering specific hours for higher-risk populations. Inquire at your local shops if they are participating.
Have a plan before heading out to the store. Don’t wait until you’re out of food and supplies before you go, as the selection at many stores will be limited. Back-up plans for unavailable items and suitable substitutions are also part of a good plan. Know what you want so you can get in and out.
Bring your disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizers to use on carts. If you have surgical gloves to wear, those are helpful too.
Do your best to maintain a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet is a good idea during the pandemic. Eating this way can help limit inflammation, boost immunity, and manage any existing conditions. But shopping might be a little different.
When you see the items you need, don’t feel them. If you touch it, buy it. Touching ten apples to find five puts you and others at risk.
Pay attention to how many people are around you. Do your best to maintain social distancing. If you’re looking for spinach and there is currently someone in the area, wait a moment until you can safely maintain about six feet or two meters of space between you.
After loading your groceries into your car, disinfect your hands. You want to do this before touching door handles, your steering wheel, or any other surfaces.
Once at home, wash your hands again before putting your items away. If you want, wipe them with soap and water or a disinfectant before washing your hands again.
If you’ve purchased fresh produce, take the appropriate steps to prepare it for freezing. This could involve blanching or separating into individual serving sizes for easy storage.
The best and safest strategy, of course, is to stay out of the stores altogether. Taking advantage of grocery delivery or pick-up services is ideal, however, they might be unreliable given the climate. In some cases, heading out may be necessary.
Although your shopping routine may have changed drastically, your eating habits don’t have to follow suit. Keep eating healthy nutrient-dense foods to boost immunity and protect yourself during the pandemic.
Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealth, which first published this article.