Senior couple finds comfort in 'eating as usual' during the Covid-19 pandemic

Staying healthy – and happy – in the Covid-19 crisis is top of most people’s minds right now, and no more so than for those in the most vulnerable groups. Our latest Fridge Story looks at the shopping habits of a senior Dutch couple who’ve found that while some habits are changing due to coronavirus, “eating as usual” is the most reassuring way of dealing with all the chaos outside.     

Both are aged over 65 and one is diabetic, and they fall into the category of “people at higher risk of developing severe illness with covid-19”. So it’s no surprise they are staying home but for occasional outings for grocery shopping.

Living in the countryside means that while they can get most kitchen basics in small local shops, occasional trips to bigger retailers are needed – “we usually go to the big supermarket in the city once every week-and-a-half or two weeks. We mostly support the local food stores close to us but in the big supermarket we get more choice and prices are also better for some products”.

So, what’s in their fridge? One fruit clearly stands out – the orange. They describe it as “an old friend”. And orange is a fruit that is having a comeback as people remember its long-touted vitamin C content.

“We always liked eating an orange as part of our breakfast, but now we are making sure we have at least one every day. Everyone knows they are high in vitamin C and that’s good for our immune system so there’s definitely no harm in making it a daily habit.”

There’s a variety of vegetables – carrots, onions, peppers, lettuce and mushroom, used to make soups and salads. “Since we have to stay home all the time, we no longer go for long walks like we used to, so we need to eat accordingly, otherwise we will put weight on. Now we usually have a main meal at lunch and some light tapas, soup or salad in the evening”.

Ham, cheese, olives and pickled vegetables are highlights: “We both enjoy cooking but doing it every day for every meal is not something we were used to anymore, so our tapas nights are our lazy dinners, and of course, we always have a nice glass of wine with it!”

In common with many people right now, the couple are enjoying a glass of wine. “We know alcohol is not the best for your body if you get sick, but we can’t have sweets because of my husband’s diabetes, so wine and cheese are our little pleasures these days.”

As their local supply of fresh fish ran into difficulties, the couple now turns to meat more often as their main protein.

Chicken, minced meat and frozen 100% beef burgers are all part of the weekly menu – “we usually do a big dish of chicken or other meat twice a week. It’s always enough for at least two meals. The other times we have cheese, hams, eggs or the occasional seafood we buy frozen as our protein.”

Is this couple more health conscious and diet aware these days? “Yes! All this situation and hearing that you’re in a vulnerable group to serious health issues really makes you think and reflect on your health and how you can improve it.”

Has this concern significantly changed what they buy and eat on a daily basis? “To be honest, now that I’ve gone through our fridge and the weekly dishes with you, I can’t honestly say it’s that much different from before.

“It’s definitely a stressful time, so maybe that’s why we are having that extra glass of wine more often, which in my opinion is not necessarily a bad thing… After all, anxiety and stress are also not good for your health!”

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