While no foods or dietary supplements can guarantee the prevention of COVID-19 infection, maintaining a healthy diet is especially important for keeping your immune system in top condition. As no one has the answer on how long the public health measures will need to stay in place, here are some easy ways you can keep your meals balanced, even if you’re staying at home for a couple of weeks:
1. Plan ahead your meals
Visualize breakfast, lunch, and dinner for at least 5 days – it’s a great habit to stick with for basic meal planning, no matter if you are the chef for yourself or your family, it can help to avoid food-wastage and save your money! Here are three easy steps may help you to start with:
- Identify the foods you have that will spoil in a week time. If they can be frozen, put them in the freezer. The fresh food that can’t be frozen (like salad greens or fruits) is going up on your meal plan first. On the other hand, you may as well challenge yourself to use up all the ingredients that have been sitting untouched in your pantry for months too. (Yes, it’s finally time to open that bag of lentils or egg noodles!
- Map out your meals. Ask yourself the following questions: How many meals do you want/need to prepare a day? What will you serve & what do you need? What are your food preparation methods? And perhaps, how are your culinary skills? Taking them with the consideration of the time and energy you will have for preparing meals – there are days where you might want to try new recipes or just want to do some time-saving super-easy meals such as stir-fries, soups, sandwiches, omelets, and etc.If all else fails, you can just put everything together and call it one pot meal.
- Think nutrition. Although your stay-at-home diet may not be perfect, try to plan each meal with a protein source (meat, eggs, or a plant-based protein), a veggie and good carbohydrates (like wholegrains). The healthiest meals emphasize whole grains and vegetables, and fruits—serve them in the greatest amounts. Go easy on the frozen ready meals as most of them are high in sodium, fat, and calories.
2. Tackle emotional eating (a.k.a stress-eating)
Although physical hunger plays a big role in shaping our eating habits, many of us eat due to emotional hunger rather than the need for dietary nourishment. It’s normal to engage in emotional eating during this period – as long as it’s a few times and not a habitual unhealthy coping mechanism. Keep in mind that stress eating can take the form of overeating, eating more frequently than usual, or craving specific comfort or junk foods. Besides that, you’ll need to have a plan to keep boredom-eating at bay too. That means you’ll need to fill your days with things that keep your mind and body busy. Need some idea? Use our Stay-At-Home bingo for some inspiration (Quick Link: shorturl.at/CHRT8) . 🙂
3. Food safety for take-out or delivered meals
Eat the food while it is hot. If you cannot finish within a meal, store the leftovers safely—wrap tightly and refrigerate any dishes with meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products—be sure to reheat these leftovers thoroughly before eating.
4.Make mealtime a positive experience
Whether it is self cooked, take-out or delivered meals, eating more meals at home is a new routine for us. Keep the stress down by making mealtime fun. If you are staying with your family together, getting them involved in setting up the table (eg. pour the water, make the salad, or serve the dishes). Make mealtimes a family affair and reconnect with each other. It can be done even if you are staying apart with your family! Set a time and have a virtual dinner gathering via a video call with them. Keep the conservation upbeat and fun. 🙂
P.S.:Try to separate mealtime and TV time—watching while eating makes it too easy to pay attention to TV and not your food, so you are likely to overeat.
Sticking to a routine of cooking and eating meals that are as healthy as possible will help your body in great ways, keeping you feeling the best you can to tackle the coming days. We are all facing this together. Stay safe & stay healthy!