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Being at home for so long and leading a sedentary life due to the Coronavirus pandemic can cause major changes in our organisms. Therefore, this can be a great opportunity to change our eating habits and feel full of energy. But you may ask yourself: how can I eat healthy during quarantine? In this article we give you the answer.
As we are in lockdown, we cannot be active as before. In other words, we do not spend the same energy. In addition, we can confuse boredom with hunger, and thus succumb to unnecessary snacks, such as biscuits, chips, and sweets. First, in order to follow a balanced diet, it is important to learn a little about nutrition.
The Food Pyramid
The food pyramid is a tool for education and health promotion. It is shown in a graphic and simple way through drawings or photographs of the food and indicates the quantities to be consumed in order to follow a healthy diet.
The triangular shape of the food pyramid guides us on the frequency and amounts we should consume of different types of foods. In the first level are the foods that we must consume daily. As we go up in levels, there are other foods that we have to consume in less quantity.
This information will be useful when you go shopping for food at the supermarket and of course, so that you can start a healthy diet. In the image, you can see the following:
Note: This article is based on Irish nutritional information. For advice on what constitutes a healthy diet in your country, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has compiled many countries’ Food-based dietary guidelines. You may find your country advice here: www.fao.org/nutrition/education/food-dietary-guidelines/en/
Shelf 1: Vegetables, Salad and Fruit (at least 5 to 7 servings a day). Base your meals on these and enjoy a variety of colours. The more the better. Limit fruit juice to an unsweetened variety, once a day.
Shelf 2: Wholemeal Cereals and Breads, Potatoes, Pasta and Rice (3–5 servings a day, up to 7 for teenage boys and men age 19–50). Wholemeal and wholegrain cereals are best. Enjoy at each meal.
Shelf 3: Milk, Yogurt and Cheese (3 servings a day and 5 from the age of 9 to 18) Choose reduced-fat or low-fat varieties. Choose low fat milk and yogurt more often than cheese. Enjoy cheese in small amounts.
Shelf 4: Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans and Nuts (2 servings a day) Choose lean meat, poultry (without skin) and fish. Eat oily fish up to twice a week. Choose eggs, beans and nuts. Limit processed salty meats such as sausages, bacon and ham.
Shelf 5: Fats, Spreads and Oils (In very small amounts) Use as little as possible. Choose mono or polyunsaturated reduced fat or light spreads. Choose rapeseed, olive, canola, sunflower or corn oils. Limit mayonnaise, coleslaw and salad dressings as they also contain oil. Always cook with as little fat or oil as possible – grilling, oven-baking, steaming, boiling or stir-frying.
Top Shelf: The revised Food Pyramid separates the Top Shelf from the rest of the pyramid. The Top Shelf includes foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt. These are not needed for good health and should not be consumed every day. Very small amounts once or twice a week is more than enough.
The Irish government also provides a leaflet with more nutritional information. If you want to read it, click here. Besides, you can download the five day meal planner on the Safe Food website if you want to start eating healthy. Check them out!
Drink water regularly. Staying well hydrated, mainly through drinking ample amounts of plain water (6-8 glasses a day for most adults) also helps our immune system. Drinking plain water instead of sugar- sweetened beverages, also helps reduce the risk of consuming too many calories for maintaining a healthy weight.
Also, limit your consumption of alcohol. Another way many people try to cope with stress is through having alcoholic drinks. These drinks have little nutritional value, are oftentimes high in calories, and excess consumption is linked to numerous health problems. If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be more concerned about food safety; however, COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, not a foodborne disease. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread through contact with food purchased in stores. However, it’s always good to remember how we can support food safety by practicing the five keys to food safety: (1) keep clean; (2) separate raw and cooked food; (3) cook thoroughly; (4) keep food at safe temperatures; and (5) use safe water and raw materials. For further information, go to: www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/consumer/manual_keys.pdf
Nonetheless, when you go shopping you should wash your hands before leaving the house, avoid touching your face when you’re out and follow social distancing practices. Then, when you come back, you should wash your hands straight away. Wash them again once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.
Since many people do not know when the lockdown will end in many countries, starting a diet rich in nutrients is a good idea. Eating healthy at home may be a big change at first, but in the end, your organism will thank you. So, would you like to start eating healthy during quarantine? Tell us in the comments section!