Staying healthy is one of the best ways to prepare your body against COVID-19, and it all starts with a wholesome diet. Here’s how to stay nourished while staying home (Image Source: hvilshoj.com/)
By Lara Pacillo | @larapacillo
You’ve left the house once in the past week. Every day is blurring into one. The stability of a weekly structure is non-existent. Your pantry is full of pasta and the only thing that has not changed in the past month is your assignment due dates.
Trying to adjust to life during the pandemic is challenging and it can be easy to forget about having a healthy diet.
However, dietitian at Inertia Health Group Chelsea Bellamy explained that this is the best time to put your diet first.
With your normal routine all out of whack Chelsea suggests that maintaining structure through our meals is an excellent place to start.
“It’s a great way to give us that core base and kick off well in this time,” she said.
“Set yourself on trying to go for three main meals and a couple of snacks where required or four to six smaller meals throughout the day.
“If we are normally at work or university we can try to stick to that usual eating routine. It makes it easier so that when we do get back into normal life it’s not such a challenge.”
While there are no diets that will prevent people from getting COVID-19 we can prepare our body to do its best by eating well and staying healthy.
That means sticking to the five healthy meal groups of vegetables, fruit, protein, dairy or dairy alternatives and grains.
Fruits and vegetables in particular are important because they are rich in vitamins and antioxidants which help protect the body from diseases and fight off illness.
Whether you’re social distancing or self-isolating there are a variety of ways we can access these products including fresh, tinned or frozen.
“We are lucky that we have multiple types (of fresh food) available and it is just using what we can get our hands on,” Chelsea said.
“You may not be able to have all the foods from all the food groups but it’s about getting back to the basics and working with what you can.”
For those of us relying on long-lasting products Chelsea suggests we include proteins such as canned beans, grains, like pasta and rice, and frozen vegetables in our main meals.
For those people required to isolate for 14 days or those who are more vulnerable and cannot leave the house, cooking bulk meals and freezing or refrigerating portions is also a great option.
Meal prep is a plus: not only for staying on track with healthy eating but also for keeping costs down by bulk buying.
“It’s going to be a lot cheaper and more sustainable than constantly cooking individual meals,” Chelsea said.
People who are homebound are still able to access fresh produce all while supporting small businesses with many local fruit and vegetable stores offering home delivery services.
Adam’s Apple West Lakes team member Maria Labbozzetta said their new home delivery service has been huge for the immunocompromised and even people who just do not feel comfortable leaving home.
“Customers have been really grateful that they can still get their healthy produce and have it fresh too,” she said.
“It’s less handling of the produce as well because it’s not on display where other customers may touch them.
“The food is packaged straight into their delivery boxes by staff wearing gloves and then delivered directly to people’s doors. No contact needed.”
For some of us though, the issue may not be sourcing products but having all-day access to them while staying home.
With boredom on the rise and a pantry full of food, it can be easy to take up snacking as a new hobby, but are you actually hungry?
Chelsea explained the trick to avoid overeating is being mindful.
“Really check in and think ‘okay, my brain’s really thinking about food, how long has it been since I last had a proper meal or decent snack?’” she said.
“Sometimes it may be time for something else to eat, while other times you may be feeling really bored and just need to change up the activities that you’re doing.”
When it is time for a meal, Chelsea said, “Choosing healthy options that give our body the most nourishment help us function at our best.”
Processed products that are packed with salt, sugar and fat are low in nutrients and high in energy may not be needed especially if we are being less active.
“Healthier foods like fruit and veggies are generally lower in energy and high in fibre and nutrients, so we can eat more of them volume wise to keep us full rather just boost up our energy,” she said.
“If we really do feel like a treat, we should stop and enjoy it.
“Switch off to everything else and be mindful and present so that the cravings don’t keep returning every couple of hours.”
“It’s important not to get caught up in being perfect,” Chelsea said.
“Set a routine. Keep it simple and with our health in mind we will get through.”
For those who would like some healthy cooking inspiration there are endless social media channels who can help keep you on track while also feeling connected.
Following professional dietitians such as Chelsea will ensure that you are getting the best evidence-based information.