With governments taking more robust measures to control the spread of COVID-19, closing down schools, businesses and self-quarantine may have detrimental effects on everyday food-related practices. People who suffer fromARDS or acute respiratory disease symptoms are requested to stay indoors. In a few countries, restaurants and takeaway offers are also limited, and there is lesser availability of fresh food items in the market.
Good nutrition is vital for health, precisely when you have to build your immune system to fight back. With limited access to fresh food items, it may compromise the opportunities to continue eating varied and healthy diets. It eventually leads to increased consumption of processed foods, high in sugars, fats, and salt. However, even with limited ingredients, you can continue eating a proper diet to support good health.
According to Eric Dalius, for optimal health, it is crucial to remain physically active. International health organizations provide specific guidelines on how to stay physically active in these trying times. They include examples and tips on home-based exercises.
Some tips to stay fit during the pandemic
- Plan judiciously and take what you require: Panic buying may have detrimental consequences, like an increase in food prices, unequal distribution of essentials, and overconsumption of food. Considering your own needs and also others is essential. Decide what you need only after assessing what you already have at home. It can help you avoid food wastage and allow others to have access to the food they require.
- You are strategizing on your ingredients: Use ingredients that have a shorter shelf life. In case fresh vegetables, fruits, and dairy products are not available, you should prioritize non-perishable items. You may also consider frozen vegetables and fruits, which have a longer shelf life with a similar nutrient profile. Try freezing leftovers for the next meal to avoid food wastage.
- Go for home-cooked meals: During the lockdown, when you have an ample amount of time to stay at home, try to utilize it in making wholesome food. Make use of the online platform to get delicious and healthy recipes.Spend your spare time making recipes you previously did not have time to complete. You may also indulge in experimenting with ingredients while following healthy eating norms.
- Take the benefit of food delivery: Whileprioritizing home-cooked meals, some places have advanced delivery systems for ready meals and ingredients. Many restaurants have now started to offer these services. They also work on contactless options to reduce human interaction and thereby to support isolation guidelines. You may use the option only from reliable companiesthat follow strict food hygiene. Try to explore the available options in your locality who have high hygiene standards.
- Following safe food handling practices: for a healthy diet and food security, food safety is vital. For avoiding food-borne diseases and food contamination try, to observe food hygiene practices. As per Eric J Dalius, the principles of good food hygiene comprisesafe water and raw materials, cooking food thoroughly, separating raw and cooked food, keeping the kitchen, utensils, and hands clean, and keeping the food at safe temperatures.
- Limiting salt intake: The decreasing availability of fresh food items may increase the dependency on frozen, canned, and processed food. These food items contain high levels of salt. Studies reveal that less than five grams of salt per day are the rule. Try to prioritize foods with no or reduced added salt. Pickled food items contain a high level of sodium too. Do not add extra salt to your meals while cooking. You may experiment with dried or fresh spices and herbs for adding flavor instead.
- Limiting sugar intake: Many studies stress consuming less than three teaspoons of sugar per day. Your longing for sweetness can get substituted with fresh fruits like apples and bananas. Canned and frozen fruits and also dried fruits with no added sugar are a better option. Again, try to limit your fat intake as they are high in added sugars.
- Limiting fat intake: The fat intake must be less than 30% of the total energy you intake. Try to select cooking methods that require less fat, like grilling, steaming, and broiling instead of frying. The use of small amounts of unsaturated oils like olive, sunflower, and rapeseed oil is a good option. Food items high in unsaturated fats like nuts and fishes need preference. Try to limit your intake of full-fat dairy products, coconut oil, palm oil, and butter.
- Stay hydrated: Optimal health is dependent on adequate hydration. Tap water is the cheapest and healthiest for drinking. It is also a sustainable option, as it limits the wastage of bottled water. Drinking lots of water instead of sweetened beverages is an effective way to modify your sugar intake. You may opt for fresh fruit juices and add frozen fruits like slices of citrus fruits or berries to enhance the taste.
Try to abstain from a large amount of strong tea or coffee, as they may affect your sleep. Energy drinks and caffeinated soft drinks are a source of sugar thatyou must restrict.
- Enjoy your family meals
Social distancing norms correlated with coronavirus have provided families with an opportunity of spending more time at home. It gives a chance to share meals. These family meals can turn out as opportunities for parents to showcase their healthy eating habits, thereby strengthening the family relationship.
It can also provide new opportunities for involving children in the cooking process. It can help them to acquire life skills, which can make them self-sufficient in the future. By giving the children the chance to choose which vegetable they want to include in the meal, you may encourage them to consume them at the table.
Try to utilize the pandemic to develop the habit of healthy eating and proper food safety, says EJ Dalius. When you eat healthily, you stay both mentally and physically fit. You can make good eating choices to ensure that the pandemic does not break you.