As we all continue to adjust to a new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to practice good self-care and prioritize our health. Your body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on your immune system. Although there are no special foods or dietary supplements that can prevent COVID-19, healthy living strategies can help support your immune system now and all year long.
We have the answers to some frequently asked questions from people with a blood cancer and their caregivers on how to eat healthy during this time.
See also: Eating Healthy During a Pandemic, an LLSC webcast with information and tips from Registered Holistic Nutritionist Tara K. Antle in Newfoundland. You can watch the recording of this resource at any time.
Can I catch the virus from food?
COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness. Reported by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA): "scientists and food safety authorities around the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID -19. There is no evidence to suggest that food is likely a source or route of transmission of the virus."
Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the four key steps of food safety — clean, chill, thaw and cook.
Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food per CFIA guidelines. Food safety rules also apply to take-out and delivery foods, which should be eaten within two hours of cooking, and leftovers must be stored safely and reheated to a safe temperature. For more information on food safety for blood cancer patients, view LLSC’s Food and Nutrition Facts.
How can I make meal times feel less lonely?
Sharing a meal virtually with loved ones and friends is a great way to boost spirits and stay in touch. Schedule video chats over meal times. Consider hosting a virtual potluck where everyone shares their favorite dishes or recipes.
What should I do about grocery shopping?
If you have a blood cancer or care for someone with a blood cancer, and decide you should not go to the grocery store, ask someone to go for you. Many grocery stores offer online ordering, so you can ask a friend or neighbor to pick up for you and leave at an agreed-upon location (e.g., front porch). You can also try ordering your groceries or meal kits online for delivery to your house. Choose “no-contact” delivery options and order earlier than usual as there might be wait times. Be sure to wash your hands and clean your counter and any other surfaces you’ve touched after putting away groceries.
How can I eat healthy during this time?
You might need to make adjustments or get creative to eat healthy at home while self-isolating. Try these tips:
- Explore new recipes. Search recipes by the ingredients you have already using websites such as Fridge to Table and SuperCook (also available as a mobile app).
- Make the most of leftovers. Store leftovers following Health Canada’s website for food safety tips to help keep foods safe, fresh and flavourful for longer.
- Use canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. Canned and frozen produce can be just as nutritious as fresh foods because they are picked and preserved at peak freshness. Look for low-sodium options. For canned fruits, choose those canned in water or 100 percent fruit juice, not syrup. Remember to clean the lids of canned foods before opening.
- Incorporate shelf-stable pantry staples into your meals including beans, legumes, peas, and whole grains such as rice, quinoa, or pasta.
- Opt for minimally processed foods with a short list of ingredients to supplement fresh foods. Consider buying frozen foods and meals for variety and to save time and energy on food prep.
- Add variety to your protein choices with eggs, nut butters, beans, seeds and dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu and packaged fish, including tuna and salmon.
- Use dry or evaporated milk if fresh milk is not available readily.
Where can I find assistance to help cover the cost of food and other expenses?
Food banks and local food organizations support Canadians facing food insecurity, particularly people and communities who are most vulnerable to economic uncertainty. The Government of Canada has recently announced funding to local, regional, and national organizations that reach people and communities with urgent food needs.
Visit Food Banks Canada for a complete list of food banks in your area.