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As our country is taking stronger measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, self-quarantine, lockdowns and the temporary closing of businesses may affect our regular food-related practices. People who’re showing acute respiratory disease symptoms, as well as healthy individuals, are being requested to stay at home. In some parts of the country, restaurants and take-away offers are being limited and some fresh food items are becoming less available.
Good nutrition is important for health, especially in times when our immune system might need to fight back. Limited access to fresh foods may compromise our opportunities to continue a healthy eating and nutrition-rich diet. It can also potentially lead us to consume increased amounts of highly processed foods, which tend to be high in sugars, fats and salt. However, even with few and limited ingredients, we can continue eating a diet that supports our fitness and good health.
So, here are the top 5 healthy eating tips for Sri Lankan fitness fanatics during the Curfew times!
Make a plan – Take Only That You Need
Multiple cases of over-purchasing have been observed during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Panic buying behaviour may have negative consequences, like a spike of food prices, overconsumption of foods and unequal distribution of products. Therefore, it’s really important to consider your own needs, as well as those of others. Evaluate the foods that you already have at home and plan your healthy eating meal intake. You might feel the need to buy large amounts of foods, but before doing any purchases make sure to utilize what is already in your pantry, as well as foods with shorter shelf life. This way you can avoid food waste and allow other people to access the food they need.
Make a meal menu for the week ahead before you go for shopping, also ensure to add the essential healthy meals and snacks as possible on your shopping list, while cutting the unhealthy options. By doing so, you can follow a healthy diet that keeps your fitness on track. Checkout Fitmeal Food for a quick and healthy meal for your customized healthy eating meal plan.
Strategically Construct Your Meals
Our daily meals are made of three important elements: Proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You could call this as the “Macronutrients”, macronutrients are nutrients the body needs in large amounts, because they provide the body with energy, help physical growth, help to protect our body from diseases and fight off illness. So, in your healthy eating meal plan include the foods that serve these three macronutrients, and adapt yourself to eat what is available at home and/or in the local shops.
Proteins: Proteins are a crucial element of every cell, tissue and organ in our body. The protein in the foods we consume is digested into amino acids that are used to interchange the proteins in our body. Proteins are involved in our body’s metabolic and hormone systems, they make up body enzymes that regulate our body’s metabolism and through immune function, defend the body against diseases.
Recommended Allowance: In general, it’s recommended that 10-35% of your daily calories should come from protein, this sums to 200 – 700 calories per day, or about 50 -175 grams a day.
Food Sources: Protein is found in foods like meat, fish, poultry, legumes, dry beans & peas, eggs, nuts, seeds, grains, tofu & other soy products, milk & other dairy products, and some fruits & vegetables.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates, also known as starches and sugars are our body’s main source of energy. Our body uses carbohydrates to make glucose, which is our fuel, either glucose is used immediately or stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for later use.
Recommended Allowance: In general, 45 – 65% of our daily calories should come from carbohydrates, this sums to 900 – 1300 calories per day or about 225 – 325 grams a day. So, determine your daily caloric intake accordingly.
Food Sources: Carbs are found in all plant foods like grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts. You can take rice, bread, potatoes, corn, root vegetables and other cereals as your daily dose of carbs.
Fats: Fats provide energy during stamina exercise, in between meals, and in times of fasting. They create an important component of cell membranes, protect and act as a shock absorber for bones and organs. Fats are not essentially bad for you, but you need to consume the right amount.
Recommended Allowance: Only 20-35% of total daily calories should come from fats, and less than 10% should come from saturated fat (fats that are solid at room temperature: butter, etc.), this sums to about 400 -700 calories per day or about 44 – 78 grams of total fat a day.
Food Sources: Unsaturated ‘aka‘ good fats are found in avocados, vegetable oils, salad dressings, ground flax seeds, nuts, seeds and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. Saturated aka bad fats are found in high-fat meats like beef & pork, and full-fat dairy products like butter & various cookies, pastries, doughnuts. With these macronutrients foods, also, eat fruits and vegetables that are enriched with vitamins, minerals and fibres to get the essential micronutrients.
Make Your Snacking Healthy
You may wonder if it’s possible to maintain your fitness while not giving up snacks. If you choose healthy food options that are enriched with protein and nutrients, snacks can be integral to maintain your fitness. Some snacks can even help keep you full throughout the day and limit your cravings for unhealthy junk foods.
Here are some healthy, fitness-friendly snacks to add to your diet:
- Mixed nuts
- Greek yoghurt and mixed fruits
- Cucumber slices and Red bell pepper
- A piece of fruit
- Hard-boiled eggs and Baby carrots
- Mixed fruits
- Mixed nuts, dry-fruits with flax seeds
Limit Your Salt Intake
During the lockdown, the accessibility of fresh foods may reduce, therefore it may become essential to depend more on canned or frozen foods. And, many of these foods contain high amounts of salt. As per WHO recommendation we should consume less than 5 g of salt per day. If your goal is healthy eating, then prioritize your foods with reduced or no added salt. You may also rinse canned foods like vegetables and beans to remove some of the excess sodium. In most of the countries, 50–75% of the salt intake comes from the foods we consume. That means, you might be consuming enough salt already, so, avoid adding extra salt when cooking and to your meals at the table. Instead, you can experiment with fresh or dried herbs & spices to add flavours.
Ensure to Stay Hydrated
Good hydration is important for optimal health. And, drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is an effective way to limit your consumption of sugar and excess calories. To enhance the taste of water, you can add fresh fruits or seeds like chia seeds, as well as cucumber or herbs like mint. Also, avoid drinking large amounts of coffee, tea, and other caffeinated soft drinks/energy drinks. Consumption of these drinks may lead to dehydration and can negatively impact your health, fitness and sleeping patterns.
Follow Good Food Hygiene
Food safety is important for a healthy diet. Remember, only safe food is healthy food. Therefore, when you’re preparing food for yourself and others, follow good food hygiene practices to avoid food contamination and foodborne diseases. The key practices of good food hygiene include the following:
- Keep your hands, kitchen and utensils clean and germs free
- Separate raw and cooked food items, particularly raw meat and other fresh produce
- Use safe water & raw materials
- Cook your meals thoroughly
- Keep your food at safe temperatures
Hope these 5 healthy eating tips can help you get the right balance of nutrition to maintain your health and fitness. Lockdown has already restricted our normal activities and living, so, following a healthy eating habit during this increased time at home will ensure you to make it out of the lockdown healthier, fit, happy, and ready to face the fast-changing world.