As millions of families across the globe are maintaining social distancing and following quarantine in the light of Coronavirus pandemic, each one of them is facing the challenge of "what to cook today?" While juggling between official work and household chores, cooking special meals throughout the day can be a task. And this leads many people to turn to packaged food for quick meals. But, is it the right thing to do when the danger of Covid-19 still looms large? How to really take care of the nutritional needs of your family and maintain a healthy diet during the lockdown when your family' welfare is always on your minds?
UNICEF drew up some tips for safe and healthy eating in times of Coronavirus pandemic, which we all can get some guidance from.
5 healthy eating tips during lockdown:
1. Try to include fruits and vegetables in diet
With limited trips to grocery stores, you might not always have access to fresh produce. But whenever possible try to stock as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, and give them your children. You can also freeze or refrigerate some of the foods to elongate their life. Another great idea is to cook large batches of soups and stews or other dishes with fresh produce that can eaten the same day and also be frozen and reheated for near future use.
2. Use dried or canned alternatives in the absence of fresh produce
If at all, you are out of fresh produce and don't have access to it at a particular point of time, there is no harm in getting healthy substitutes. Canned beans, tomato puree, fish, frozen meats and peas, dried fruit - there are plenty of options of food alternatives that can fill your daily nutritional needs of vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients. You can use them to make different types of dishes too.
Although, fresh produce is the best but these fall-back options are not bad either during the time of adversity.
Dried goods like dried beans, pulses and grains such as lentils, split peas, rice, couscous or quinoa are also great options that are easily available, are long-lasting, and nutritious. Rolled oats cooked with milk or water can serve as a great breakfast option, and can be mixed with other healthy foods like chopped fruits, nuts and seeds.
3. Stock healthy snacks
Snacking is an indispensable part of our daily diet. Most of us, children especially, need to eat a snack or two in between the meals. For these cravings, stock up your kitchen with healthy snacks like roasted nuts, peanut butter, healthy cheese, fruit yogurt etc. These snacking options are healthier and more nutritious and filling, as compared to chips and fries. Build healthy eating habits in children that may last a lifetime.
4. Reduce intake of highly processed foods
While fresh produce may not always be available, UNICEF still suggests limiting intake of highly processed foods. Ready-to-eat meals, packaged snacks and desserts are often high in saturated fat, sugars and salt. If you do purchase processed foods, look at the label and try to choose healthier options containing less of these substances. Try to also avoid sugary drinks and instead drink lots of water or make healthier drinks at home. Water infused with fruits or vegetables like lemon, lime, cucumber slices or berries or herbs like mint and parsley is a great way to hydrate yourself.
(Also Read: Covid-19: 5 Ways The Epidemic Will Change The Way We Eat)
5. Make cooking and eating a fun family activity
Cooking and eating together is a great way to spend quality family time. Make it a fun recreational part of your daily routine by involving your family in the cooking process, involve your children in food preparation - small children can help with washing or sorting food items while older children can take on more complex tasks and help to set the table.
Follow a healthy diet at home, and try to stick to fixed mealtimes as a family. Such structures and routine can help reduce anxiety for children during this difficult time.