SCARBOROUGH — Hannaford dietitians are answering customers’ questions about issues such as reducing food waste, cutting back on costs, and making more nutritious choices, especially during stressful times.

Anne L’Heureux, Hannaford’s online dietitian, talked about some of the biggest concerns and questions that people have been asking about in recent weeks.

While healthy eating can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful, as there are a vast amount of choices to navigate through, there are three basic steps that everyone can start with, pandemic or not, L’Heureux said.

“I think that the best thing you can do is take a deep breath when you’re overwhelmed and go back to the basics of good nutrition,” she said. “No matter what you’re dieting about you can try to add more vegetables and fruit, try to reduce added sugars, and try to get more whole, real food.”

Examples of whole foods would be items like chicken, eggs, and beans, L’Heureux said.

She added that she tells callers not to be concerned about perfection.

“Choose one thing per day that you can focus on making a better choice,” L’Heureux said. “Say, ‘This week I’m focusing on making sure everyone gets one portion of fruit a day for the week.’ And then keep doing that (in future weeks) and go, ‘OK, I’m going to cut out the evening snack,’ or replace it with something like fruit or a yogurt. Don’t let it overwhelm you and don’t think it has to be perfect.”

The past month has been stressful for people dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak, job layoffs, and confusion, causing many to overindulge on comfort foods, she said. There are ways to turn unhealthy options into a more nutritious choice.

“When this quarantine came out, people have been indulging in comfort food, but now people are getting back on track,” she said. “You can make a healthier mac and cheese, which is a comfort food. I’d suggest getting a bag of frozen broccoli and mixing it into the mac and cheese.”

Frozen fruits and vegetables have just as must nutrition as fresh ones, L’Heureux said. If shoppers already had frozen items in the pantry before the quarantine began, they can utilize those foods in the healthiest ways.

She added that frozen produce lasts longer than fresh.

“A lot of people are trying to shop less frequently,” she said. “They want to know how to balance getting those good quality foods. Right now it’s been about letting people know that frozen items are just as nutritious. A lot of people are asking for recipes with those frozen items.”

Ways to save costs can be found by shopping in bulk — for example, purchasing a canister of nuts instead of individually wrapped, 100-calorie bags, and then portioning out a serving at home, L’Heureux said. Buying produce when it’s in season can also save money in the long run.

Looking at weekly flyers, picking out items on sale, also saves customers money, she said. If chicken is on sale one week, customers should plan meals with chicken in them.

Besides dollars, L’Heureux also provided tips on how to cut down on food waste.

“So in looking to reduce food waste, I think the one thing you can do is go into the shopping trip with a plan and know how to use the items,” she said. “Items you don’t use right away, learn how to properly store them. I think the biggest thing to reduce food waste is to have a plan.”

If shoppers have questions for L’Heureux, they can visit the Hannaford website, look at the top left-hand side, at the tab that says, “Get inspired,” which will pull down a menu with a “Healthy Living” option, said L’Heureux. People can also search by state or town.

Dietitians are still offering online classes, she added, like virtual cooking classes with recipes.

In addition, people can submit questions via the online form at Hannaford.com or can correspond directly with dietitians in their area. Dietitian email addresses are listed on the following site: https://www.hannaford.com/health-wellness/dietitians

 

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