Grocery shopping to get fertility fit during any time of the year can be challenging but when you throw a pandemic into the mix, it throws down a whole new set of challenges. To get some extra encouragement, we asked our fertility nutrition expert, Joey Coppedge, to share his top tips on how to navigate the grocery store during the time of COVID-19.
1. Buy foods you can ferment or freeze
Fruits and vegetables (and meat too) in their whole, natural state are slam packed with every vitamin and mineral you will ever need. Even though fresh produce needs replenishment the quickest, buying frozen, usually means they’ve been flash frozen after harvest in order to preserve their nutrient content and obviously will last longer than those bananas rotting on the counter. In fact, the nutrient content of produce decreases after it is harvested, transits to the store, and sits waiting to be purchased. So freezing is arguably better. Fermenting is another way, not only to preserve your veggies, but to cultivate your own culture of immune stimulating probiotics. Your gut health will thank you, I promise!
Just make sure you leave room in the freezer for your meats too! Almost everything from the butcher is freezable and ready to grill after a day to thaw in the fridge. But sometimes fish is frozen and then sold in the refrigerated section so whatever you do, don’t freeze it again! Check out these tips for freezing for fish from The Spruce Eats.
2. Stock up on dry goods
Some of the most mineral-dense foods you can get, like beans & legumes, nuts & seeds, and whole grains are available in dry form. Not only can they last for months, they’re also much less expensive. Delineation on whole grain: No, I’m not recommending picking up a few packages of bagels and pasta. Refined dry foods are a sure fire way to spike blood sugar and raise insulin levels. But if you want to make some whole grain sourdough at home, you’ve earned it!
3. Skip the processed foods
If I can send you off with only one thing it is this: Eating a variety of whole/ minimally processed foods (aka, no more processed foods) can provide every essential nutrient you need without having to overthink or spend weeks planning. Besides the stress of our lives being disrupted as they’ve been, stress also comes in the form of long-term dieting, malnutrition, excessively low or high BMI, or cognitive dietary restraint (constant monitoring and limiting dietary intake). Therefore it’s important that our bodies are supplied with an adequate balance of nutrients. There is a carefully choreographed set of feedback loops that occur between your hypothalamus, pituitary & adrenal glands, and your ovaries. When stress from work, poor sleep, or disordered eating patterns are detected by the hypothalamus, it will shut down sex hormone production. Normal or low levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) corresponding with low levels of estrogen and progesterone often means you’ll lose your period or have irregular mensural cycles.
4. Buy foods that facilitate good behavior
In essence, the more "bad" stuff you have at home, the more of it you'll eat. Forty-three percent of our day-to-day actions are done habitually, activating in the back of our minds requiring no executive decision making power. Meaning, most of our bad habits (emotional eating, dessert after lunch, staring into the fridge in hopes of alleviating boredom) happen just as automatically as brushing our teeth or driving to work. We’ve trained these automatic responses (aka habits) over time by satisfying cravings to change our internal state. In other words, we don’t necessarily want ( insert habit here ), we just want the break / relief / escape that comes with it. And over time, we associate that action with that craving. If you know the next few weeks will be spent in the controlled environment that is your home, now is perhaps the best time to reprogram your habit-cues.
So load up on the good stuff (go overboard and freeze/ferment the rest) and leave your favorite junk foods, refined goods, and desserts at the store. Good luck out there!
Fertility Nutrition Tele-Coach
Joey has worked in the wellness industry for just under a decade. He helps people identify their roadblocks in order to set them up for empowered, healthy, fertile futures.