Consumer Reports: Eating changes during the pandemic

Consumer Reports

CONSUMER REPORTS — At the pandemic’s start, many of us stumbled into new ways of eating. Now almost a year in, Consumer Reports reveals more about how the pandemic has changed how we eat, and offers some advice on how to get your health back on track.

Over the past pandemic-filled year, many families have seen changes to the way they eat and what they eat. A recent Consumer Reports survey found that about 80% of Americans say they’ve made at least one change in the food they eat or the way they source or prepare it and those changes could impact their health.

“Eating well is especially vital right now because obesity, heart disease, and diabetes increase the risk of COVID-19 complications. So this is a good time to evaluate your diet and see which habits you want to keep and which you want to change,” said Rachel Rabkin-Peachmen, Consumer Reports Investigative Editor.

Did you put on the so-called COVID “nineteen?” Maybe it wasn’t 19 pounds, but you’re not alone: 32% of people say they’ve gained weight since the start of the pandemic.

Rabkin-Peachman said, “When people have less structure in their day and more access to the kitchen, it can lead to more snacking and nibbling, and weight gain. Make it easy for yourself to grab healthy foods by planning out your meals and snacks in advance.”

Another trend, early on in the pandemic, supermarket shortages, hikes in food prices, and stay-at-home orders led many folks to find alternatives to going into the grocery store. And 49% of shoppers used a grocery delivery or pick-up service, which is up from 27% before the pandemic.

“For many people, this also sparked the question, ‘Where does my food come from?’ Consumers started to search out local farm stands, community-sponsored agriculture programs, and many even started their own gardens,” Rabkin-Peachman said.

And some research suggests that gardening can increase mental well-being, something we could all use a little more of right now.

But while some have had too much, others have experienced food insecurity. According to Consumer Report’s survey, one in five American grocery shoppers has had to turn to a food bank since the start of the pandemic. 

If you’re considering giving to a local food bank, Consumer Reports says to prioritize cash over cans. Food banks welcome most donated food, but monetary donations let them buy food wholesale and in bulk, giving a bigger bang for your donation.

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