As several countries are taking stronger measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19, self-quarantine may affect healthy eating practices. Everyone is requested to stay at home whether they are healthy or not. So instead of focusing on nutrition, people stared consuming crap during quarantine.
Good nutrition is crucial for health and well-being, particularly in this time when taking care of immunity is the main motive. Limited access to fresh foods may compromise to continue eating a healthy and balanced diet that potentially lead to an increased consumption of unhealthy food that are processed, be high in fat, sugar and salt content. It is also important to stay physically active while at home for optimal health.
When planning your meals and grocery lists consider those foods that are healthy as well as have a longer shelf life such as kidney beans, brown rice, oats, dried herbs, apricot and many more. It is important to have extra nutritious food at home. These will be handy if you ever become sick and have to limit your trips to the grocery store.
Some nutritious and staple food items to consider buying:
- Fresh veggies with a longer shelf life like carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, turnips, yams, cabbage, squash, etc.
- Fresh fruit with a longer shelf life: like apples, pears, avocadoes, melon, oranges, grapefruit, etc.
- Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, applesauce, tomato sauce, 100% vegetable and fruit juice
- Grains like white or brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, tortillas, pasta, noodles, cereals, bread rusks, crackers etc
- Yogurt, eggs, meat, fish, hard cheese, non-refrigerated milk and plant-based beverages
- Lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts, seeds and nut butters
- Flour, butter, oil especially olive oil, tea, coffee hot chocolate, jam, honey, granola bars, cookies, spices.
- Infant formula like instant whole wheat noodles
- Meal replacements like protein shakes
Healthy eating tips
- Regular fruits and vegetables intake
Purchasing and storing fresh fruits and vegetables can be challenging in a lockdown, especially when we all are advised to limit trips outside of the home. But wherever possible, it’s important to ensure that everyone at home eat plenty of fruit and vegetables in their diet. Fruits and vegetables can be frozen too for a longer shelf life that too will contain most of their nutrients and flavour. Using fresh vegetables to cook stews, gravy, soups, or other dishes will make them last longer and can be reheated and utilized quickly.
- Choose dried or canned nutritious alternatives when fresh ones are not available
Fresh foods are always the best and nutritious option, but when it is not available there are plenty of healthy and nutritious alternatives that are easy to prepare and store.
Canned beans, chickpeas, vegetables do tend to contain lower quantities of vitamins than fresh ones but they are a great fallback option, stored for months and can be included in meals in many ways. Canned fish are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids and a range of vitamins and minerals. These can be used in sandwiches, salads, pasta or cooked as part of meal.
Dried goods like beans, pulses and grains such as lentils, split peas, rice or quinoa are nutritious long-lasting options that affordable, filling and tasty. Rolled oats cooked with milk or water is an excellent breakfast option that can be spiced up with raisins, yoghurt or chopped fruits.
- Stock up healthy snacks
We all want to indulge on snacking during the daytime and even at night. Rather than indulging on unhealthy options such as fried, creamy, sweets or salty snacks, opt for a healthier options like nuts, cheese, yoghurt, chopped or dried fruits, boiled eggs, or other healthy options. These foods are nutritious, filling, and help build healthy eating habits.
- Limit highly processed foods
Try to limit the amount of highly processed foods such as ready-to-eat meals, packaged snacks and desserts. They are often high in saturated fat, sugars and salt. If you are purchasing processed foods, do consider looking at the label and choose healthier options. Also avoid sugary drinks and instead drink lots of water. Making fruits or vegetables infused water with lemon, lime, cucumber slices, mint or berries is a great way to add an extra twist in it.
- Cooking and eating should be a meaningful part of your routine
Cooking and eating is a great way to create healthy routines. Wherever you can, involve your children and family in food preparation. This will strengthen bonds with family with a lots of fun in it– children can help with washing or sorting food items while elders can take on more complex tasks like cooking or chopping stuffs. Such structure and routine can help reduce anxiety in these stressful situations.
General hygiene tips
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap at least for at least 20 seconds
- Use separate chopping boards and sanitize them properly.
- Cook food to the recommended temperature.
- Pay attention to product expiry dates.
- Aim to recycle or dispose of food waste
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after eating, make sure your family do the same.
- Always use clean utensils