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Stress eating common during stressful times; COVID-19 immunity foods don’t exist


As the COVID-19 outbreak shuts down businesses and keeps people in their homes, many are finding themselves in the pantry more than usual.

Jennifer Bean an assistant teaching professor in the University of Missouri Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, said many people turn to food during stressful times, such as the COVID-19 outbreak.

"That is not an uncommon response to stress and to uncertainty," Bean said. "Really looking at the plate as something we can control in times that we can't really control things is not a foreign concept."

She said overeating during crisis times is nothing to be ashamed of.

"If you find yourself eating a little bit more than usual, cut yourself a little bit of slack, it's hard right now," Bean said.

If you are trying to stay out of the kitchen, Bean said writing down what you eat every day and sticking to your typical food schedule can help keep you on track.

Steven Mack, a certified personal trainer in Columbia, agreed that this is a good opportunity to start new habits.

Mack said if you are more prone to overeat certain foods, simply not keeping them in your house during this period can set you up for success.

"For me, I ate six boxes of cereal in less than seven days," Mack said. " If I were to not buy cereal that's really going to help me not gain weight or stress eat during this time because that is something I have fallen into."

Being out of school also disrupts children's schedule. Many school districts are still offering lunches for children in need, but Bean said making sure kids have snacks is crucial.

"Kids are going to be feeling a little bit nervous, a little bit out of wack, maybe feeling a little bit out of control," Bean said.

Right now, Bean said there are myths about foods that can boost your immune system and protect you from COVID-19, and you have to be careful before believing them.

"There's no one food, there's no one supplement that you can take that can protect you from coronavirus, that's just not going to be the case," Bean said.

"But what will help to boost your immunity, it's not sexy, it's not going to make things fly off the shelves, it's not going to boost ratings, it's basic healthy nutrition," Bean said.

Bean said it's important to get vitamins from your food or the sun instead of turning to a supplement nutrients such as vitamins C or D.

As officials are urging people to practice social distancing, some people are trying to limit the number of times they go to the grocery store by buying in bulk.

Bean said frozen produce is as nutritious as fresh and is available year-round and easily stored in the freezer. Canned vegetables and fruits are also an option, but she said to try to look for options without salt because it is something people can easily overconsume.

"If you absolutely just can't or maybe the places you shop don't have those options then you can get the regular canned fruits and vegetables, just give them a rinse before you consume them, and that will take a lot of the salt and added sugars out of them," Bean said.

She said COVID-19 is not shown to be transferred through food, but there are ways for people to ease that fear if you are ordering from a restaurant or prepared food from a store.

"Get foods that arrive hot, or that you are able to reheat to stay out of the temperature danger zone," Bean said.

Check back for more or watch ABC 17 News at 9 and 10 for a full report.

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Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.


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