The first step to eating healthy is to buy good, nutritious food. When doing your shopping list, plan ahead what you are going to cook. We are spending more time indoors, so there is definitely more food preparation involved. This does not necessarily mean that we have more time to cook, especially if you are still working, or if you have children doing online schooling and needing more help to get their studies done.
So, planning ahead is essential, and knowing what to cook makes it much easier. Also this will save you trips to the supermarket, which is so important to minimise our close contact with other people. So, prepare a food list to buy. This makes it less likely to forget food. You will also be less tempted to impulse buy on unhealthy food – limit purchases of crisps, chocolate, biscuits and ice cream. They are high in empty calories and high in fat. If you have more time available then you can prepare some healthy snacks yourself. Avoid opting for frozen dinners as these are high in sodium, fat and calories.
If you have children at home, do include them in the meal planning and actual preparation of the food. This is an ideal time to teach kids about food and nutrition. When kids choose and prepare their own food there is a greater chance for them to eat it. This will also engage them for some time.
Choose food that is low in fat, sugars and salt. Grains, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, fish and low dairy products are all good options.
Bread, Cereals and Other Grain Products
When shopping for grain products, always choose whole grain food. When choosing cereals, make sure you check the food label and opt for ones that are lower in sugar and fat.
Vegetables and Fruit
Choose fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit. Avoid canned vegetables, as they are high in salt. Canned fruit is also higher in sugars. Choose different coloured vegetables, as these will have different vitamins and minerals. Cooked or raw vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Limit butter, salad dressing and salt when preparing vegetables to help you control fat, energy and sodium intake.
During this time, opt for sturdy fruit and vegetables that will last longer. Remember that trips to the supermarket are to be less frequent.
Legumes such as beans and lentils are low fat, nutrient and fibre rich food choices. These are good to stock up on as they have a longer shelf life.
Meat, Fish and Poultry
Meat, fish and poultry provide essential minerals such as zinc and iron, vitamin Bs, as well as protein. Always opt for lean meats. Plan to have oily fish like salmon once a week, and white fish once a week too. Fish and poultry have less fat so are a healthier option.
Milk and Dairy Products
It is important to include dairy products, as this is our primary source of calcium. Choose non fat or low fat milk, yoghurt and cheeses. As visits to the supermarket are less frequent, one may opt for long life or powdered milk instead. Also choose cheeses that have a longer shelf life.
When shopping during the pandemic, always remember to sanitise your hands before and after shopping. Sanitise the handle of the grocery cart too. Once back home, remember to wash your hands thoroughly.
The least one can do is to wash their hands after unpacking and putting away the groceries. Studies have found that the virus is detectable on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours, and on cardboard for up to 24 hours. So this also includes produce and packaged foods.
You can take additional steps to protect yourself by wiping or washing cans and boxes of food before storing them. Alternatively, one can also keep aside the products bought for 72 hours before using and storing them.
When one is ready, you can wash any tables, countertops or other surfaces that came into contact with the groceries. And wash your hands once again.
For fruit and vegetables, you should wash them thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with water and suitable soap.
Let’s Use This Time at Home Wisely
Let’s make the most out of this situation and give our health the priority!