How to Stay Healthy during Quarantine Period: Food and Nutrition Tips to Follow!

Written By: Princess See
UTROS in Philippines Inc.

The world has been battling with COVID-19 pandemic for months already. In this crisis, it is important to be mindful of our health. Aside from the basic preventive measures we need to apply such as wearing face masks and washing our hands, it is necessary to keep ourselves healthy. Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in this pressing period when the immune system is essential to combat the virus. Moreover, it is important to remain physically active to be at your best health. The World Health Organization Europe (WHO/Europe) has created a helpful guide to individuals in order to keep healthy for periods of quarantine. Here are the tips according to WHO, which you can follow and might as well share with others.

1. Create a plan of intake and of things you need to buy

There have been several cases of over-purchasing or hoarding of goods during the pandemic. The negative results of panic buying behavior are an increase in food prices, over consumption of food, and unequal distribution of products. Thus, it is important to consider your own needs, as well as those of others. Check the items you already have at home and plan your intake. Be sure to utilize the items you already have and those with shorter shelf-life and purchase only the essential amount of foods. By doing this, you can avoid food waste and allow others to access the food they need.

2. Be strategic about the use of ingredients

Prioritize the use of fresh ingredients and those that have a shorter shelf life. When fresh products, such as fruits, vegetables, and reduced-fat dairy products are still available, use these first over non perishables. Additionally, frozen fruits and vegetables can also conveniently be used over longer periods. They often have a similar nutrient profile to fresh foods. You may consider freezing any leftovers for another meal to avoid food waste.

3. Prepare home-cooked meals

Many individuals often do not have enough time to prepare home-cooked meals during their regular daily schedule in life. However, since the quarantine period has started, there are now longer periods of time to spend at home. This offers opportunity to try making those recipes you were not able to cook before. There are many healthy and delicious recipes you can search online. Experiment with the ingredients you can access. Bring out that cooking skills of yours or if you’re a beginner, just take the challenge and learn how to cook (might even become an added skill for you).

4. Make use of food delivery options

Take advantage of delivery systems for ingredients and ready meals available in your area. Some services include “contact less” options, where no human interaction is required, thus supporting self-quarantine and isolation measures.

5. Pay attention to potion sizes

Learn about your national food-based dietary guidelines on healthy portions for adults and children. You need to measure the right portion sizes since it will be a challenge when cooking from scratch. Also, you need to be mindful of overeating due to long periods at home without company or with limited activities.

6. Follow food safety practices

To ensure food security and a healthy diet, food safety must be done first and foremost. It is important to follow good food hygiene practices when preparing food to avoid any food contamination and food borne diseases. The main principles of good food hygiene include: (1) keep your hands, kitchen and utensils clean; (2) separate raw and cooked food, especially raw meat and fresh produce; (3) cook your food thoroughly; (4) keep your food at safe temperatures, either below 5 °C or above 60 °C; and (5) use safe water and raw material.

7. Limit your salt, sugar and fat intake

Because of the current situation, the availability of fresh foods is possible to decrease which could lead to depend more on canned, frozen, or processed foods. The problem is many of these foods contain high levels of salt. As per WHO recommendation, we should consume less than 5 g of salt per day. To be able to achieve this, consume foods with reduced or no added salt.
On the other hand, WHO suggests that preferably, adults should take less than 5% of total energy from free sugars (about 6 teaspoons). So, if you want something sweet, fresh fruit would be the best option. Alternatively, you can choose frozen fruits, canned fruits in juice rather than syrup, and dried fruits with no added sugar.

Regarding total fat intake, WHO advises to limit it to less than 30% of total energy intake, of which no more than 10% should come from saturated fat. Hence, switch to cooking methods that require less or no fat. For some examples, you can do steaming, grilling, or sauteing instead of frying foods. Or, use small amounts of unsaturated oils such as rapeseed, olive, or sunflower oil to cook foods.

8. Eat plenty of fiber-enriched food

Fiber is known to contribute to a healthy digestive system. It offers a prolonged feeling of fullness, which helps prevent overeating. Add vegetables, fruit, pulses, and wholegrain foods in your regular meals for adequate fiber intake.

9. Stay hydrated!

Good hydration is crucial for optimal health. Make sure to drink water regularly.

Let us take note of the tips given. Be mindful of yourself and others. Remember, keep safe and stay healthy. We can overcome this crisis together.

Reference:

World Health Organization Europe. (2020). Food and Nutrition Tips During Self-Quarantine. Retrieved from https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/technical-guidance/food-and-nutrition-tips-during-self-quarantine

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