Keeping Your Nutrition on track during COVID-19
As a society we have learnt a huge amount about COVID-19 over recent weeks. What was once known only by virologists has now become general knowledge. How we act during this time is vital in determining our future as a country, as a community and as individuals. With potentially more time on our hands than ever before, we have the opportunity to take a step back and identify how we can best support ourselves during this time. Our health and nutrition are often the last thing on our mind during a crisis, however it’s in these times that paying a little extra attention to what we consume can make all the difference.
How can I support my immune system?
Although it’s not possible to “boost” your immune system with food alone you certainly can support it. Trying as best you can to keep variety and balance in your diet- eating lots of fruit and vegetables, high protein food, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (unsaturated where possible) will help to keep your immune system working optimally.
Try to eat as much of your food fresh and unprocessed. Understandably with the demand put on supermarkets as a whole this may not be easily attainable so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If you can’t go fresh…go frozen (where fruit and vegetables are concerned)! Not only can their nutritional value be higher than their fresh counterparts, but they also tend to be cheaper!
Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a strong immune system. Often feelings of thirst are mistaken for hunger so be sure to drink around 8-10 cups of water per day and try to keep caffeinated and sugary drinks to a minimum.
With more time on our hands, boredom can lead to snacking on calorie dense foods with low nutritional value. Swap these for healthy alternatives such as fruit, vegetable sticks with houmous or a handful nuts.
What If I can’t get fresh food?
If you can’t reach the supermarket as you’re not feeling well or someone in your household is isolating then either ask if there is anyone that can deliver food to you or have a good old rummage around your store cupboards. Tinned foods such as chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans have an almost indefinite shelf-life, are full of vital vitamins and minerals and can be thrown into any curry, soups or sauces for added fibre or protein.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration or if the kitchen is uncharted waters then Nutritank have an array of easy to follow, nutritious recipes for you. What better time to try cooking those meals you’ve always wanted to make but never had the time!
With self-isolation resulting in reduced activity levels for many, it’s key to pay attention to portion size and the energy we consume versus energy we expel. As tempting as a takeaway might be at this time, they can be high in salt, sugar and fat and low in vital nutrients. Ordering food on a regular basis may be convenient but can have a negative impact on your health as well as your bank balance so skip the take-out and head to the kitchen!
Should I buy any supplements?
Currently there are no supplements you can take to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 despite what some companies might have you believe. It is however important to mention that as our time outside is currently very limited, we may not be getting adequate levels of Vitamin D from the sun. Incorporating a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D will help to keep deficiencies at bay.
Is routine important?
Morning and evening routines will be somewhat different to usual so it’s important to try and reintroduce this regularity back into your life. Sticking to a good evening routine will help you drift off much easier. As tempting as “just one more” episode might be, exchanging it for an extra hour’s sleep is not only beneficial for the quality of your sleep but has been shown keep our hunger and satiety hormones (ghrelin and leptin) in check, keeping those hunger pangs at bay . Avoiding caffeine, high sugar foods, alcohol and electronic screens long before you go to bed will help you to reach the optimal 7-9 hours sleep.
Given the current climate we are all learning to cope with this unprecedented situation in our own way. In a time where we miss our friends, our family and our freedom focusing on self-care is paramount. Our health is something that should never be taken for granted and now is as good a time as any to introduce some of these healthy habits… who knows they might just stick!
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