Anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic might bring out our worst eating habits to the surface. However, there are several ways that you can maintain a balanced diet at home with what you have in your freezer or pantry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of major changes in our day-to-day lives, and these apply to how we manage our diet and take care of our overall health. Proper hygienic practices and daily disinfection have little effect if we compromise our immune systems and gain unwanted weight as a result of poor dietary choices, particularly now that there is limited opportunity for physical activities and exercise.
To help you stay healthy during the COVID-19 lockdown, here are some tips that you should consider.
- Establish a meal routine – and stick to it.
For the first few days, lockdown might feel like the beginning of a long weekend or a vacation for some people; however, this doesn’t mean that you should eat accordingly. If you shopped and stocked up on food ahead of time, check your fridge and pantry and plan your meals, at least for the next week. Also, try to establish a meal routine by eating at set times. Not only will this help you avoid consuming your food stock too fast, but it will also create a sense of normality. Furthermore, it will keep you and your family from reaching for crisps and biscuits at random times.
- Eat more slowly.
Did you know? The pace at which you eat can influence how much you eat. Studies comparing different eating speeds reveal that fast eaters are about 115% more likely to be obese than slow eaters. Your appetite, how much you eat, and how full you become is controlled by hormones – these hormones signal your brain whether you are hungry or full. However, it takes around 20 minutes for your brain to receive these messages, so eating more slowly gives your brain enough time to perceive that you are full.
Eating slowly is also associated with more thorough chewing, which has also been associated with better weight maintenance. Therefore, by simply eating slower and chewing more often, you can decrease your risk of eating too much and gaining excess weight.
- Consider healthy pantry staples.
During the lockdown, it’s going to be difficult to buy fresh produce daily. However, that doesn’t mean that you should completely shun healthy eating. There is evidence that frozen vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish can be just as beneficial to you as fresh ones. This is because frozen foods generally maintain their minerals and vitamins and there is no change to the protein, carbohydrate, or fat content.
Here are some tips to help you choose healthy pantry staples.
- Choose brown rice or whole grain pasta.
- Choose oily fish such as tuna or tinned mackerel – these are high in omega fatty acids which can keep both your body and mind healthy.
- Tomato paste and tinned tomatoes can add excellent flavor to stews and soups.
- Legumes such as lentils and beans are packed with fiber and protein and can add flavor and texture to stews, soups, and sauces.
- Choose eggs – they are a good source of protein and have a long shelf life. Protein is a key building block for antibodies and immune cells and plays a vital role in helping our immune system do its job.
- If you are a snacker, particularly while working from home, nuts and dried fruit are healthier alternatives to biscuits and sweets. Plus, nuts and dried fruit can help sustain your energy for longer.
- Drink plenty of water.
Drinking water is important for your overall health – and during this lockdown, staying as healthy as possible is highly important. Not only will drinking plenty of water help you avoid dehydration, but it can also benefit weight maintenance and weight loss. It may even slightly increase the amount of calories that you burn daily. With that said, the most important thing that you should remember is that you have to drink water instead of other beverages, like sodas and juices.
- Try at least one new healthy recipe each day.
During the lockdown, you have the opportunity to cook for yourself – take advantage of this opportunity and try to cook at least one new healthy recipe each day.
Deciding what to have for meals can be a constant cause of frustration – this is why many people tend to use the same recipes over and over again. Chances are, you have been cooking the same recipes on autopilot for years. Whether these are healthy or unhealthy recipes, it is always good to try something new.
Aim to try making a new healthy recipe at least once a day. This can help change up your food and nutrient intakes and hopefully add new, healthy recipes to your routine. Alternatively, you can also try to make a healthier version of your favorite food. For instance, if you are craving fries, make potato wedges or baked sweet potato instead.
Not sure what to cook? Consult a cookbook or look up healthy recipes online. You can also
During the lockdown, there is limited opportunity for physical activities and exercise outside. However, this doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising completely. Even if you can’t run outside or go to the gym, you should still continue exercising – even if you are just in the comfort of your own home.
There are various types of exercises that you can do at home. For instance, using only your own body weight, versatile exercise moves – such as push-ups, crunches, planks, squat jumps, and lunges – can help you create a total-body at-home workout that can help you stay healthy and fit. Yoga, deep breathing exercises, and meditation are good, not just for your physical health, but for your mental health as well. You can also try looking up indoor exercise routines on YouTube or other platforms.
The key is to keep moving and exercising, even when you are stuck indoors due to the lockdown.
- Get enough rest and sleep.
Sleep deprivation is so common across the world that it is often shrugged off, making people comfortable with functioning on minimal sleep. However, getting enough rest and sleep is highly important for your overall health, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some reasons why.
- Enough sleep can help boost your immune system. Sleep is crucial to the immune system. Getting less than the recommended amount of sleep is not just detrimental to your physical health, but your brain health too. Sufficient sleep has been proven to boost the immune system, which can reduce our risk of developing chronic illness.
- A healthy immune system can help fight off infection. Studies have shown that when we are sleep deprived, our immune systems become severely compromised. Researchers also found that those who have less than five hours of sleep per night had 4.5 times the risk of catching the common cold, compared with those who sleep more than seven hours each night.
The Bottom Line
Don’t use being stuck at home as an excuse to slip into unhealthy habits. Even if you are stuck inside due to the lockdown, make sure to continue exercising, eating healthy and well-balanced meals, and get enough rest and sleep. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, and practice social distancing!