I went grocery shopping yesterday, wearing a scarf over my face and nose and armed with plastic gloves. My family of four had a shopping list, and we were dispersed among three different stores texting one another what we were or weren't able to get at our designated store. So there I was, wearing one glove on my left hand (my shopping hand) while balancing my phone in my unprotected right hand so I could send and receive texts. My husband was in a long line of cars at Costco, waiting for permission to get out of his car to get into the line that was keeping everyone six feet apart. My oldest daughter (the one who went from being 350 miles away at college to her bedroom at our house in a matter of frantic hours with little notice the week before her scheduled spring break) was standing in line at Trader Joe's, waiting to get clearance to be one of only 25 people let into the store. My high school sophomore tackled our local grocer with me; we split up the list and went to opposite sides of the store. Here's a little sample of our group text:
Me to husband: Can you add pita chips to your list?
College daughter to me: this red pepper?
College daughter to me: No chard here.
Me: I know-I've got it. Did you get the honey?
Sophomore to me: where r u mom?
College daughter to me: Dad wants you to get the veggie sausage patties.
College daughter to Sophomore daughter: Is this the coconut milk?
As I looked around me, I noticed that probably half of the customers and employees were wearing face masks, bandanas, or scarves. Some of us gave one another eye greetings, others rushed hurriedly past. I tried to smile with my eyes, but I'm not really sure how to do that. Was my smile received? Did it look like a smile? Because the only thing I could see was panic and fear in others that I have been fighting myself. I actually took a moment to stop in an aisle, look around me, and laugh out loud at the absurdity of it all. I'm not used to wearing a face covering. I was hot and I couldn't move my head without worrying it would come off of my face, and then I would have to try to fix it. Should I used the gloved hand or the unprotected hand? I said to myself, "is this real?" By the time I got to the cashier I thought to myself "screw these gloves."
So this is my new life. Your version may be a little different than mine, but I bet there are some similar themes. It's OK to laugh out loud. It's OK to cry. If you are like me, you're doing the best you can with the information you have.
Here is what I can tell you to be true.
Right now, we have an adequate food production and distribution chain.
There is no need to hoard food, but you should try to limit your trips to the grocery store. This may mean stocking up on some canned, dried, and frozen goods to get you through when you run out of fresh produce.
You should always wash fresh produce thoroughly before consuming, but avoid washing with soap or other chemicals.
They aren't made for food and may be harmful if ingested.
Washing your hands frequently, along with social distancing and staying at home if you can are the best ways for us to stay healthy right now.
Wash your hands when you get home from the grocery store and again after you put your food items away. Wash your hands before your prepare your meals, before you eat your meals, and after you eat your meals. Wash your hands after loading the dishwasher and before unloading the dishwasher.
Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
Stay healthy and safe my friends. We will get through this!
Dr. Amy is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and health behavior expert.
Learn more at www.wholefoodismedicine.com