Here are some tips on how you can maintain a healthy diet during this time:
1. Eat a variety of food every day. Eating a variety of food ensures that your daily nutrient requirements are met. However, having so many options often lead to overconsumption so moderation and control must still be observed. Give yourself a chance to try new food and these new discoveries might just surprise you.
2. Focus on fresh and unprocessed foods every day. While processed food items are convenient, these can further increase your risk of developing illness. Choosing fresh food will guarantee that your body will get the needed nutrients to be healthy. Consume fruits, vegetables and whole grains like oats, wheat and brown rice or starchy tubers and roots such as potatoes, cassava, yam and taro. These are packed with fiber, B-vitamins and antioxidants that will surely boost your immune system.
3. Consume fish, lean meat, poultry and egg. Protein is considered the building blocks of life and it is found in every cell of the body. It helps in cell and tissue repair, growth and development. Filling your diet with lean, healthy and natural protein sources also helps prevent unnecessary weight gain as it makes you feel full longer, thus fewer total calories will be consumed throughout the day.
4. Choose healthy fats. The body needs fat for energy, protection and absorption of some vitamins. There is a notion that eating fats will add inches to your waist and cholesterol to your system, however instead of having a “low fat diet”, focus more on the quality of fats you’re consuming. Adding sources of healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, salmon, soy milk and tofu in your diet can improve cholesterol and insulin levels. Eating too much of the unhealthy fat such as trans fat and saturated fat may increase the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Reading food labels when doing your groceries can be a great practice to monitor the amount and quality of fat.
5. Eat less salt and sugar. The uncertainty at this time is the hardest thing to handle and it causes lot of stress. During stressful times, most people turn to food for comfort. Comfort food, which are usually high in sugar and salt, puts your mind at ease when faced with difficult situations. Sugar reduces the stress hormone cortisol thus improving your overall mood. Salt, on the other hand, makes food taste better and are generally addictive. However, too much can lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Cut down on these and try to explore other ways on how to cope up with stress.
6. Drink water every day. Hydration makes your body’s overall function properly. It regulates body temperature, promotes nutrient transfer and helps in cleansing the toxins out of our body. Staying hydrated keeps your body naturally eliminate substances that may cause illness. Dehydration reduces the overall body fluids that may lead to poor response of the immune system. Also, symptoms such as fever and cough greatly affect the amount of fluid and nutrients from the body. Thus, staying hydrated is a must.
7. Practice good food hygiene. Proper handling food items brought from the market must always be observed. It starts with proper hand washing and disinfecting surfaces before starting food preparation. Separating raw and cooked food items can help limit cross-contamination. Lastly, make sure to store all food items properly to avoid spoilage.
8. Be physically active. Since majority are staying at home, there is a higher chance that people eat more but are less active during this time. Regular exercise can boost immunity, so a 20-30 minute workout routine at home can have a great effect on your mental, emotional and physical health. It may be challenging at first but here’s how you can get started:
· Block a scheduled time for the workout so it will be easier to follow a routine.
· Allocate a space wherein you can set up a “mood” for working out.
· Eliminate distractions such as laptops and phones.
· Manage expectations. This is not the time to set personal goals, rather focus on setting realistic goals such as overall health and well-being.
A pandemic is inevitable but you need to be prepared. Invest in your health and focus on what can be controlled such as proper hygiene, healthy diet and regular exercise to successfully win this battle against the virus.