The entire planet is caught in the grips of a life changing pandemic. Instead of giving into the fear and panic, there are many positive things that can be done to make it through.
There are so many questions about this global health crisis and, although I am not an infectious disease expert and wouldn't attempt giving any health advice, I would like to share a few tips that may support you through these challenging times, keeping your Paleo lifestyle in mind.
It is quickly becoming increasingly clear that a significant level of physical distancing is required to manage this global crisis. It is important to understand that I strongly discourage any kind of panic shopping which is counterproductive and puts people's lives at risk. As opposed to buying more, focus on buying the right foods. Nutrient-dense, well-sourced, real food is particularly important to maintain a healthy immune system.
There is absolutely no need to stock up on refined grains and processed foods. Your Paleo lifestyle provides many options to keep you well stocked and well fed for as long as you may require.
Paleo Fridge Essentials
- Meat, fish & seafood (well-raised and sustainably sourced) including fresh, cured and smoked. Refrigerate any fresh meat that you plan to use in the next few days. Cured and smoked meat including chorizo, pepperoni, bacon and smoked salmon will last for longer.
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- Eggs.They will last for several weeks. If you can get fresh eggs that have never been refrigerated, you can store these at room temperature. The recipes and options with eggs are limitless
- Vegetables.Soft leafy greens like lettuce won't last long and take a lot of space. Instead opt for vegetables such as zucchini, turnips, cauliflower, rutabaga, asparagus, fennel, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and celery. Instead of fresh spinach, get frozen spinach. Tomatoes are best when not refrigerated and stored at room temperature. If any vegetables are close to their expiration date, use them to make tasty Paleo friendly soups or stews
- Avocadoscan be stored at room temperature for a few days. They will last longer refrigerated.
- Seasonal fruitwill last for several days on the counter and a week or two when refrigerated. Store fruits and vegetables separately due to the different rates of ethylene gas release which can cause aging and browning. Bananas are best not refrigerated. If you have space in your freezer, you can freeze berries and other fruits on sheet pans and stored in containers for later use.
Paleo Freezer Essentials
Before you start buying a freezer full of essentials, go through what you have in your freezer and only buy more food if you have the space and you need it. If you do, buy meat and fish from online providers (check the availability in your area). Also check your local farm and smaller shops as these seem to be less affected by the current panic buying.
- Meat, fish & seafood (well-raised and sustainably sourced) can be stored for up to 3 months.
- Vegetablescan be stored for up to 6 months. Broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, cauliflower and spinach are some of the best options. If you have any fresh vegetables that are close to their expiration date, you can par-boil and freeze them for longer storage.
- Berriessuch as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, stone fruits such as peaches, cherries, nectarines and plums and pineapple all freeze well.
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- Most stews, casseroles and Paleo meals are perfectly suitable for the freezer, making batch cooking an optional pass time. When properly packaged, most meals can be stored for a few months.
- Full-fat dairy(if an option on your Paleo diet) including butter, cheese and cream can be stored for 4 to 6 months.
Tip: Use Your Slow Cooker Or Pressure Cooker for making large batches. Batch cooking and freezing is a great option to use up ingredients that are close to their expiration date.
Non-Perishable Paleo Staples & Essentials
It's a good idea to stock up on a few pantry staples foods in case you are not able to buy fresh food. These include:
- Canned fishsuch as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies, canned cod roe and cod liver (a great source of vitamin D).
- Healthy fats & oilssuch as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee and duck fat can be stored for several months.
- Other canned and glass jar staplesincluding vegetables such as tomatoes and artichokes, sauerkraut, coconut milk, olives, capers, and Paleo friendly, avocado oil-based dressings and mayonnaise. Canned coconut milk, cream and concentrate can form the base of many sweet and savory meals and snacks.
- Beef jerky and pork rinds. Any options from beef jerky, venison, pork, turkey and even salmon. Visit your local farmer’s market or get in touch with a local farmer or butcher for well-sourced, Paleo friendly options (or make your own)
- Nuts, seeds and coconut chips. Any nuts, especially macadamias, pecans, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts. Go easy on Brazil nuts (1-2 nuts will cover your daily selenium needs), pistachios and cashews. Although nuts are not always ideal when consumed in large quantities, they store well and are nutrient dense. Nut and seed butters also store well in dark places when unopened. Once opened these are best refrigerated. Unsweetened dried fruits and berries can also form part of a nutrient dense snack or meal.
- Baking essentials. Whole nuts and seeds will last longer than ground. Due to the unstable PUFA oils in nut and seed flours, it's best to keep them refrigerated or frozen. Coconut flour can be stored at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated. If you do include Paleo sweeteners in your Paleo diet, honey and coconut sugar are shelf stable whilst maple syrup, once opened can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Dark chocolate, ideally 85% and above. 100% chocolate with some almond butter is a delicious, indulgent treat.
- Coffee and tea are non-perishables that will last for months.
To protect yourself and others, shop online if you can. Most grocery stores and online retailers will deliver to your doorstep. You may also want to check if farmers in your area provide a delivery service to spare you from any unnecessary trips
Apart from having food and groceries delivered, you might consider attaching a note to your front door making sure that the driver respects physical distancing. This way the driver is instructed to knock and leave any deliveries in front of the doors without waiting for the door to be opened.
Stay Active And Move
If you live in a rural area, go for a walk whilst ensuring to keep distance your from other people. Light outdoor activity like walking will help you stay healthy both physically and mentally.
There are many online body-weight and home-based workouts, classes and programs available for free or a minimal cost. For most workouts you won't need much, if any equipment and you can always use what you have at home (a bottle of water for weights, a chair for dips and such). Too much exercise will do more damage than good so be mindful not to overdo it.
Manage Your Stress
No one should underestimate the damage stress can do both physically and mentally. If you are new to meditation and you are not sure where to start, consider using an app like Headspace to help you relax and decrease your stress levels.
Apart from downloading an app, you can download meditation music through services such as Spotify, Google Play Music or iTunes.
Read more on stress management techniques here
To help you get through this stressful time, consider taking an online class, download a book or watch a movie to take your mind off the outside world. Some of my favourite options include:
- Try learning a new language. There are plenty online programs such as Babel and apps like Duolingo you can download and start now.
- Brilliant.org— helps you learn through interactive problem solving. You can build quantitative skills in math, science, and computer science with fun and challenging interactive explorations.
- Online learning services such as Skillshare.com or Lynda.com offer classes in business, design, photography, productivity and marketing. I've been using Lynda.com for years!
- Order a book online or download an audio book on Amazon.
- Get Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Now TV, etc. There are more than enough movies, TV series and documentaries to suit every taste and keep you entertained and at home.
Connect With Community
The current situation can begin to feel overwhelming. Being physically isolated does not mean that you have to be socially isolated. We will get through this together. Join an online community for motivation, inspiration and/or support, stay in touch with your friends through online video platforms, have virtual coffee dates, parties and game night – stay connected.
As a society, we are in this together and these are the times that bring out the best in people. Not everyone has the ability to get the supplies they need, especially with the current panic buying trend. Many stores have empty shelves with no options for home deliveries in less than 10 days. This can be particularly challenging for the elderly and vulnerable in the community. If you can, please find and reach out to your local support groups and volunteer communities that help those in need. Remember, your top priority should be not to spread the virus and not to put people at risk.