Healthy eating can be challenging at the best of times but recent events have created some truly unique circumstances for us all to contend with. Social distancing, remote working and school closures mean that most of us will be eating more regularly at home for perhaps many weeks to come. Combining this with some supermarket shortages makes it more important than ever that we all get creative and become familiar with a good selection of meals and snacks that suit our needs and tastes and those of our families.
So, if every cloud has a silver lining, perhaps we should see the positive here as the opportunity to try out some new ideas that we might not usually have time for, and experiment with options that could become permanent features in the quest for long term healthy eating routines underpinning the everyday health and energy results that we all deserve. And for everyone with children, this could be a good time to get them involved in the preparation of what they’re about to eat!
Key things to think about
As you adapt to a different working set up and plan your food schedules for the next few weeks, it’s more important than ever to keep the basic healthy eating principles in mind…
1. Start your day right
A good healthy breakfast is a great way to start the day. Regular meals are important for keeping blood sugar balanced as this helps to maintain your energy levels so you don’t feel fatigued and resort to sugary snacks.
Quick tip: Have three meals and two small snacks every day.
2. Get colourful
Eating a multi-coloured variety of foods is good for you as each colour contains a different combination of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep your body working in balance.
Quick tip: Try to choose red, orange, yellow, green and purple fruits or vegetables every day. Include organic fruit and vegetables where possible.
3. Drink up
Water is vital for everyone’s daily routine. Dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish, unfocused and irritable so drink plenty of water to remain energised throughout the day.
Quick tip: Sip water regularly from a small refillable water bottle. Aim for eight medium glasses of water or herbal tea daily.
4. Get your five a day
Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. A portion is equivalent to the average sized apple, or a portion the size of the palm of your hand. Fruit and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and plant chemicals that help regulate important body processes. Include some raw plant foods for added variety.
Quick tip: Use juices, smoothies or soups to help you achieve your five a day. Include salads, vegetable sticks and fruit to vary your diet.
5. Eat Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant chemicals all of which help body processes. Fibre is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Most fibre comes from whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, brown pasta, oats, fruit, vegetables and pulses. Food processing makes many of these grains 'white' (e.g. white bread, white rice), and they are used in many products (cakes, biscuits, pasta for example). Unfortunately, this saps the grains of vital nutrients, especially B vitamins, which we need for energy production and stress control.
Quick tip: Increase variety by choosing whole-meal bread, brown rice, oatcakes, barley, quinoa, rye, oats and millet.
6. Skip the salt
Excessive salt intake can contribute to high blood pressure, so avoid adding it wherever you can.
7. Boost your immune system
Your immune system helps prevent illness and infection. Stress, fatigue, pollutants and stimulants all affect the immune system, with a knock-on effect on your health. Following the healthy eating schedule will provide a range of nutrients to keep you fit and healthy – building up your defences against infection.