With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, countries are taking stronger measures to contain the spread of the diseases. Healthy individuals, as well as those affected by the outbreak, are being requested to stay at home.
However, isolation, lock down and the temporary closing of businesses mean that food-related practices are being disturbed right and left. At a time when you need to fortify your immune system to combat the virus, good nutrition is more vital than before. Unfortunately, limited access to fresh food can make people resort to highly processed foods, laden down with salt, sugar, and fats, and make it harder to follow a balanced diet. For optimal health, it is essential to consume a diet that supports good health and helps you stay fit during quarantine.
Here are a few tips to ensure you are eating a balanced, nutritionally dense diet.
Prioritize Fresh Products
If your supermarkets aisles are running empty, try to make use of ingredients that have a shorter shelf life as much as you can. If you still have access to fresh products, such as dairy, fruits and vegetables, prioritize them over mom-perishables and canned goods.
Fortunately, frozen vegetables and fruits retain their nutrient profile when frozen, so be sure to freeze any leftovers you have to avoid food wastage. However, certain canned vegetables such as green beans, tomatoes, peas, spinach and mushrooms are even high in nutrition when canned, so stock up on these vegetables even if fresher versions are scarce. Remember to choose, when possible, options with low or no added salt.
Go For Home-Cooked Meals
Before the pandemic, your hectic routine might have held you
back from preparing home-cooked meals on a regular basis. However, with no
where to go, you now have all the time to try your hand on recipes you never
looked twice at before. Loop up scrumptious recipes that make use of healthy
immune boosting ingredients to fortify your immune system for the days to come.
Leverage all the ingredients in your pantry and get set cooking.
WHO recommends consuming a minimum of 400 of fruits and
vegetables each day. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, clementine, and oranges
are the perfect tropical fruits for snacking, while bananas and apples can be
added to smoothies or consumed on their own. Vegetables such as cauliflower,
broccoli and cabbage, and root vegetables such as beets, turnips, and carrots
are nonperishable, as are additives like onions, ginger and garlic.
All frozen fruits such as mango, pineapple and berries are
great options, as they still contain high levels of vitamins and fiber, are
easily accessible and are often easier on the pockets than their fresher
versions. These frozen fruits can be added to porridges, smoothies, fruit
salads, juiced, or eaten with low-fat plain yogurt after defrosting. Similarly,
frozen vegetables are quick to prepare, bursting with nutrition, and
consuming them can help reach the recommendations, even when fresh foods are
Canned sardines, tuna, and other fish are good sources of
protein and healthy fats. Add them to whole grain breads, pasta and salads. If
possible, choose fish canned in water rather than brine or oil.
Monitor Portion Size
People who are stuck at home, bored, depressed, and feeling
the brunt of the isolation, can start binge eating as a coping mechanism. Even
if you are preparing fresh, home-cooked meals, be mindful of what constitutes a
healthy portion and stick to it.
Follow Safe Food Handling Practices
Remember that safe food is healthy food. When you are
preparing food for yourself or your family, be mindful of good food hygiene to
avoid foodborne diseases and food contamination. Clean your cooking utensils,
kitchen counters and your hands frequently. WHO recommends cooking your food
through and through and storing raw items separate from fresh produce or cooked
food. Always use safe water and raw materials and remember to store your food
wither 5 °C or above 60 °C.
Limit Your Salt Intake
With the scarcity of fresh food available in supermarkets,
many people have no option but to rely on processed, frozen, or canned food.
However, the problem here is that many of such food items are laden with salt,
when in fact, the recommended salt intake is less than 5g for a healthy
individual. Try to consume more foods with reduced or no added salt. You can
even rise canned foods to remove some of the additives. Consume pickled foods
in moderation since they have a high sodium content.
Cut Down On Sugar
According to WHO food guidelines, free sugars should make up
around 5% of your total energy intake. Whenever the sweet tooth kicks in, go
for fresh juices, frozen fruits and dried fruits with no added sugar. If you
are going for a dessert, limit your portion and gratify your sugar cravings
with the least-sugary option. In general, watch the amount of honey or sugar
added to foods and avoid sweetening your beverages unnecessarily.
Up Your Fiber Intake
Fiber is essential to the proper functioning of the immune
system and curbs appetite by making you feel fuller for long. To increase your
fiber intake, include more wholegrain foods, pulses, fruits, and fresh
vegetables in your diet. When it comes to wholegrains foods, prioritize
whole-wheat wraps, breads, quinoa, brown rice and pasta, and oats, instead of
refined foods such as white bread, rice and pasta. Also stock up on pulses,
lentils, chickpeas and beans, since they are some of the best sources of
vegetable minerals, vitamins, fiber, and protein. These are also rather versatile
and can be tossed into salads, spreads, soups, stews, and dips.
Good hydration is essential for a healthy individual. Drink
more water instead of sugar-laden beverages to cut down calories and limit your
intake of sugar. If you are bored of drinking plain water, you can revitalize
it by infusing it with rosemary, lavender, mint, cucumber, or citrus fruits and
berries. Skimp on strong team, coffee, energy drinks and caffeinated soft
drinks, since they impact your sleeping patterns and lead to dehydration.
In addition to be a dependence-producing and mind-altering
substance that is harmful for the human body, alcohol also weakens your immune
system and hampers its ability to respond to external stimuli. Alcohol
dependency undermine your body’s ability to combat contagious diseases, such as
While alcohol consumption should always be strictly
monitored, it becomes all the more important in quarantine. At a time when
people are caught up in the throes of panic, fear, anxiety and depression,
alcohol consumption can further exacerbate these symptoms in isolation and
self-quarantine. Alcohol is never a recommended coping mechanism, especially in
the midst of a pandemic when it is essential to keep a clear head.
Alcohol also makes certain medications less effective, while
increasing the potency and toxicity of others. No matter what you read online,
any type of alcoholic products should never be used as a preventive or
treatment measure against COVID-19.
Enjoy Family Meals
The social distancing imposed by the spread of the COVID-19
outbreak is finally making families spend more time together, share meals
together, and bond. Family meals not only strengthen family relationships but
also allow parents to impose healthy and balanced eating habits. If possible,
involve children in cooking meals, so that they are more aware of what goes
into their bodies and make mealtimes more fun for the entire family.
Get Your Fill Of Dairy
Starting with eggs! Eggs are a great source of nutrients and
proteins and are incredibly versatile. It better to poach and boil than fry
your eggs. Remember that dairy products provide an inexpensive source of nutrients
and proteins. However, always go for reduced-fat dairy to cut down your
consumption of saturated fat consumption. UHT milk in a carton or can will be
relatively shelf stable, and so is powdered milk.