Grocery Shopping with Food Sensitivities During a Pandemic

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My safe food is gone. Now what?

As we all know, we are in the middle of a pandemic right now, which means that grocery stores are empty due to people panic buying and hoarding a bunch of food. That makes it a lot harder for those of us with dietary restrictions to buy foods that we know are safe. What do we do if we can’t get the foods we normally get that are safe for us to consume?

The other day when I went grocery shopping for the family, I went to get some bread since we’re running low. But, the one pre-made bread that I can actually eat, Martin’s bread, was sold out; that section of the bread shelf was empty besides cinnamon raisin bread, which I did get a loaf of that. And, there was plenty of other brands of bread, but none that I can eat. So, if I’m unable to get their real butter bread or even whole wheat bread that I always get, that I know is safe and the only bread I can have, then what can I get to make a classic peanut butter & jelly sandwich? I would have to live without sandwiches for a week and hope I can buy more the next time I go to the store. Luckily we do still have some bread to make a couple more sandwiches, but it’s not gonna last much longer. If worse comes to worse, I could make some bread with the flour we have, but stores are also out of flour, so what happens when I run out?

Also, I feel like all of the sudden, everyone has allergies. The Lactaid milk, the almond milk, the soy milk, for example, are gone, which makes it a lot harder for those of us who are actually lactose intolerant or actually allergic to dairy to buy the milk alternatives. And why are these milks disappearing? My thoughts, because they last longer. Lactaid milk is good for a few months; regular milk only lasts a couple weeks. Now what we don’t know is that are allergy families buying loads of milk to stock up or is everyone buying that type of milk leaving the regular milk? I know that there is plenty of regular milk, because I’m still able to buy some no problem, but Lactaid milk for my lactose intolerant family members is almost impossible to buy. You’re lucky if you can get some.

The thing is too, every time you go to the grocery store is different. It’s different with the amount of product and the products that they have in stock. One week, you may be able to snag some toilet paper and some Lactaid milk, but the next week, you’re not and you’re screwed for a week. You never know what you could get and what you’ll come home with. One week, you may be lucky and get everything on your list that you need, but another week, you may go home pretty much empty handed only getting a few items on your list. So, you could suffer and starve one week, but then be fine and satisfied another week.

Another problem with grocery shopping when you have dietary restrictions is that you have to read the ingredients for everything. But, the last thing you want to do at this moment is touch a bunch of different boxes and food items reading the ingredients and putting those foods back on the shelf because it’s not safe to eat. Now during grocery shopping, you want to grab what you need and get the heck out of there as fast as you can. You don’t want to sit there touching a bunch of foods and read labels for hours. Not to mention all the expiration dates that you need to keep an eye on. But, if they don’t have your safe foods, then you need to look for alternatives, so you don’t starve, and you pretty much hope that the first box you pick up is okay because you don’t want to touch another.

Grocery shopping now is a lot different than it used to be. You can’t run to the store if you forgot something or ran out because they might not even have it at the store and you don’t want to be in a store multiple times a week; it’s more of a once a week type of shopping. You don’t want to touch a bunch of foods and put them back if they’re not safe, so reading ingredients becomes more of a challenge. And, you’ll never know what foods you’ll actually be able to get each week. People are hoarding and buying too much, others are buying the alternatives that they don’t normally get leaving us who actually need it starving. If you don’t have allergies and don’t need to buy allergy-friendly food, please don’t; save it for the people who actually need it. Also, don’t hoard food and buy them in stocks; save food for others. Grocery shopping is now a chore that nobody wants to do, but we all have to do it. Not knowing what will actually be at the store makes it a lot harder for us to grocery shop, especially those with dietary restrictions. Grocery shopping is not fun anymore.

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