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Maintain a healthy diet during the COVID-19 pandemic

Good nutrition is crucial for our health at a time when our immune system may need to fight back. Our eating practices have been challenged as we continue staying home to contain the spread of COVID-19. Limited access to fresh and other healthy foods may lead to an increase consumption of highly processed foods which are high in fats, sugars and salt. 

Here are a few tips on how to continue eating healthy under conditions of isolation.

Buy only what you need. Avoid waste and allowed others to access the food they need. Many people are concerned that food might be running out from supermarket shelves. However, in most cases those empty shelves indicate bottlenecks in getting some products to consumers, not that the food supply is not available at all.

Consider buying your food online and get it delivered directly to your home. In many areas this can be done through supermarkets or big online retailers. These services are in high demand and may no longer be available in your area.

Prioritize fresh foods like fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products over non-perishables. Consider adding frozen alternatives as they last longer and have a similar nutritional profile.

Continue to practice good food hygiene. The good news is that there is no evidence that the disease can be spread through contact with the food purchased.

Prepare home-cooked meals. You didn’t have the time before, now is your opportunity! You can find many healthy recipes online. Experiment with the ingredients you have. Enjoy these meals with your family!

Even though our eating practices have been challenged, try to follow the principles for healthy eating as much as possible:

  • Be aware of portion sizes

  • Watch your intake of fats, sugar, and salt.

    • Avoid adding extra salt when cooking and to meals at the table

    • If you crave something sweet go for fresh or canned fruit

    • Avoid frying and choose healthy fats like fish and nuts

  • Consume enough fiber - aim to include vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain foods (oats, brown pasta and rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread), rather than refined grain foods such as white pasta and rice, and white bread. 

  • Drink water regularly

  • Avoid excess alcohol use

And don’t forget, in addition to a healthy diet, other lifestyle factors are critical part of maintaining wellbeing and a healthy immune system. A healthy lifestyle includes additional strategies such as: not smoking, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and minimizing and coping with stress. 

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