As more countries implement stronger measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, self-quarantine, lockdowns and temporary closing of businesses may affect normal food-related practices.
Having good nutrition is crucial for one's health, most especially in times when the immune system might need to fight back.
Here are a few food and nutrition tips to help you stay healthy during this quarantine:
- Limit salt intake
Prioritize food with reduced or no added salt. Consider rinsing canned foods like beans, to remove excess sodium. In many countries, 50–75% of the salt intake comes from the foods we eat, rather than what we add ourselves. Given that you might be consuming enough salt already, avoid adding extra salt when cooking and to your meals at the table. Experiment with fresh or dried herbs and spices for added flavor instead.
- Limit sugar intake
If you’re craving for something sweet, it’s best to eat fresh fruits instead. In case fresh fruits are not available, frozen fruits, canned fruits (in juice rather than syrup) and dried fruits (with nno added sugars) are good alternatives. Watch out for low fat option as these often could be high in added sugars. Limit the amount of sugar or honey added to foods and avoid sweetening your beverages.
- Limit fat intake
Instead of frying your food, opt for cooking methods that require less or no fat, like steaming, grilling or sautéing. If possible, use small amounts of unsaturated oils like rapeseed, olive or sunflower oil to cook your food. Trim excess fat from meat and poultry to limit saturated fats and choose skinless options If available. Prefer foods like fish and nuts that contain healthy sources of unsaturated fat and reduce foods like red and fatty meats, butter, full-fat dairy products, palm oil, coconut oil, solid shortening and lard.
As much as possible, avoid trans fats and read nutrition label to ensure that partially hydrogenated oils are not part of the ingredients. In cases where food labels aren’t available, it would be best to avoid food which commonly contain trans fats such as processed and fried foods – like doughnuts and baked goods.
- Consume enough fiber
Fiber aids in having a healthy digestive system and offers a prolonged feeling of fullness, which helps to prevent overeating. Include vegetables, fruits, and wholegrain foods in your meals to ensure an adequate fiber intake.
Wholegrain foods include brown pasta and rice, whole-wheat bread and wraps, oats and quinoa, rather than white pasta and rice and white bread.
- Stay Hydrated
Good hydration is important for your health. Drinking water instead of sugary or sweetened beverages helps to limit your intake of sugar and excess calories. You can add fresh or frozen fruits like berries or citrus fruit slices, as well as cucumber or herbs to enhance its taste.
Avoid drinking large amounts of strong coffee, strong tea, and especially caffeinated soft drinks and energy drinks as these may lead to dehydration and can negatively affect your sleeping patterns.