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10 Tips to Eat Healthy During Quarantine or Isolation (COVID-19)

Simply put, there are no foods that will ‘boost’ our immune system and prevent or treat COVID-19. However, eating a healthy balanced diet is still essential for good health and normal immune function. Therefore, following your country’s dietary guidelines is still the recommended way to meet your nutrient needs and keep you healthy during isolation. Here we will discuss the principles of healthy eating during quarantine.

8 Tips to Eat Healthy During Quarantine or Isolation (COVID-19)

1. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for supplying the vitamins, minerals and fibre our body needs for good health and normal immune function.

We should aim to eat at least 5 portions (equivalent to around 400g) of fruits and vegetables every day. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced (maximum 1 serving per day) versions all count as a portion.

As different coloured fruits and vegetables provide different combinations of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, make sure to add variety to your daily meals where possible.

 

2. Choose Whole Grains Over Refined Grains

Whole grains, unlike refined grains, maintain most of the structure of the grain, keeping the layers that hold the vitamins, minerals and fibre. In addition, whole grains also provide an important source of carbohydrates which give us energy and can help us feel fuller for longer periods.

 

3. Replace Saturated Fats With Unsaturated Fats

Fats are an important part of a healthy diet. However, not all fats have the same effect on our health. Swapping saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help to lower our LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce our risk of heart disease.1 We can do this by reducing our intake of foods such as fatty meats, high fat dairy products and tropical oils like coconut oil and adding foods such as nuts, oily fish and plant oils such as olive and rapeseed oil.

4. Limit Foods and Drinks High in Fat, Sugar and Salt

Foods and drinks high in fatsugar and salt such as cookies, potato chips, chocolate and sugary drinks, when eaten in high amounts can lead us to consume more calories than we need.  As these foods often provide little nutritional benefit, they are not needed for a healthy diet and should only be enjoyed in small amounts and eaten occasionally.

5. Control Portion Sizes

It can be difficult to get portion sizes right, especially when cooking at home. Understanding what the right portion looks like can help us stay in energy balance and avoid under- or overeating. Not all foods have the same portion sizes. See our “handy” tricks to portion sizes to get a better understanding of what a healthy portion is for different foods. Remember, children’s portions should be smaller!

6. Choose Both Animal and Plant-Based Proteins

Protein is essential for the healthy functioning of our body and immune system. We can get protein from both animal- and plant-based sources, such as beans, pulses, fish, eggs, dairy products and meats. Our protein requirement changes depending on our stage of life. Adults are recommended to eat at least 0.83 g of protein per kg body weight per day, equivalent to 58 g/day for a 70 kg adult.2 We should choose protein-rich foods that not only help us meet our needs but also support a healthy and sustainable diet.

In case of limited access to fresh meat and fish, frozen and canned versions can provide convenient and nutritious alternatives. However, as the fat and salt content can be high in some canned meats and fish it is important to check the label and choose lower fat and salt varieties. Plant-based proteins such as pulses, cereals, nuts and seeds also have a long shelf-life and can provide convenient protein-rich and nutritious meals or snacks.

7. Stay Hydrated

Keeping hydrated is essential for overall health. How much water we need depends on our age, sex, weight, height, level of physical activity and environmental conditions (i.e. hot weather will likely require you to drink more water). Considering that around 20-30% of the water we need comes from our food, the European Food Safety Authority has set average recommendations for how much water we should drink per day depending on our age (figure 6).3

If you have access to safe tap water, this is the healthiest and cheapest drink. For a refreshing boost, you can add slices of lemon, cucumber, mint or berries. Other drinks such as unsweetened coffee, sparkling water, unsweetened tea, iced tea or unsweetened infused or flavoured water are also good choices for hydration.

8. Get Your Dose of Vitamin D in Isolation

The sun is the best source of vitamin D, however, during quarantine or self-isolation it may be more difficult to get enough sun exposure to meet our needs. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals who are unable to go outside eat plenty of vitamin D rich foods (figure 7) and consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. The recommended vitamin D intake for different age groups are:

  • 15 µg/day for adults (18+ years), children (1 – 17 years) and pregnant individuals
  • 10 µg/day for infants (7 – 11 months)
  • 10 µg/day for breastfeed infants (0 – 7 months)

If you are in self-isolation and have access to an open window, garden or balcony, then short periods (15-30 minutes) of daily sun exposure to the arms and face without sunscreen can help you meet your daily vitamin D needs. However, we should not forget that for good sun protection we should avoid unprotected sun exposure for more than 30 minutes.

 

 

Cooking channels that will make you a better chef during quarantine

If you are fresh to the cooking world and looking for easy recipes, then we may have a few abundant options for you.

Dullness is making us do all kinds of things, including cooking. Those who never stepped into the kitchen pre-quarantine are also humoring the experience. And those who were good at cooking are now enhancing their skills more than ever. Cooking is an enjoyable activity with therapeutic benefits; it can help you relieve stress and give you a sweet or salty sense of achievement depending on what you cook.

Another reason people are exploring their inner chefs is the failure of ordering food online or visiting their favorite restaurant. Amid the lockdown, the cooking videos or online classes have suddenly become a lot more relevant. Many professional chefs share their recipes online. The internet is jam-packed with cooking tutorials of all the kinds of food one can imagine. Sometimes it can be hard to find just the right kind of recipes online.
If you are fresh to the cooking world and looking for easy recipes, then we may have a few abundant options for you:

SB – Kitchen

Saira Basit is an expert chef who runs her own food business. She is offering free online cooking classes to all her followers. Follow her Facebook page for updates and delicious delicacies!

Food Fusion

Food Fusion is a YouTube channel that shares original and mouthwatering recipes. They have more than 2 million subscribers. If you’re looking for simple fusion recipes to entice your taste buds then follow their Facebook page or subscribe to their channel.

SooperChef

SooperChef is yet another platform where you can learn wonderful recipes, varying from traditional Pakistani to continental blend. They have 236k subscribers on their YouTube channel and people simply love their fun and easy recipes.

Village Food Secrets

A simple man from a village named Mubashir Siddique shares his brilliant food recipes on his YouTube channel called ‘Village Food Secrets’. The unique thing about Mubashir is that he cooks food in a complete old-fashioned way; with no fancy equipment or complex ingredients. He has over 1.8 million subscribers.