Make a plan : What to eat during pandemic

Make plan, strategize, proritize, and prepare food.

Multiple cases of hoarding and over-purchasing have been observed throughout the WHO European Region. Panic buying behavior has negative consequences, like an increase in food prices, unequal distribution of products, and overconsumption of food. It is critical to consider their own needs, as well as those of members.

Assess what family already have at home and plan intake accordingly. You might feel the requirement to purchase large amounts of foods, but make sure to consider and utilize what is already in the pantry, as well as foods with lesser shelf life. By this, you can avoid wastage of food and allow others to access the food which they need.

Strategize about the use of ingredients and prioritize fresh food items

Use fresh ingredients and those having a shorter shelf life first. If fresh products, vegetables, fruits, and fat-reduced dairy continue to be available, prioritize over non-perishables. Frozen fruits and vegetables can conveniently be used over more extended periods and have a similar nutrient profile to fresh foods. To avoid wastage of food, you may freeze leftovers for the next meal.

Preparation of home-cooked meals

During regular daily life, individuals often do not have preparation time home-cooked meals. Spending more prolonged periods at home now offers the possibility to make recipes you previously did not have time to prepare. Healthy and delicious recipes can be found on the internet. Taking advantage of the wealth of freely available information, and you can experiment with the ingredients, but keep in mind the principles for healthy eating offered in this guidance.

Advantage of food delivery

Home-cooked meals should be on priority, some cities have rather advanced delivery systems for ingredients and ready meals, and online business sites are offering this service. Some solutions include “contact-less” options too, where no human interaction is required. Supporting self-quarantine and isolation measures should be prioritized. Reliable businesses are adopting strict food hygiene steps. Make a plan to keep food at safe temperatures (below 5 °C or above 60 °C) for food delivery and transportation. These services might be overwhelmed, and you may want to consider exploring what is available in your area.

Be aware of portion sizes

It can be challenging to get portion sizes right when cooking from scratch. Sitting at home for more extended periods, especially without a company or limited activities, can lead to overeating. Get guidance from your national food-based dietary guidelines on what constitutes healthy portions for adults. It can make mindful that young children should be given smaller pieces.

Follow safe food handling practices

Food safety is the prerequisite for healthy living and diet, so make a plan. Healthy food is only safe food. It is essential to follow food hygiene practices while preparing food for yourself and others to avoid food contamination and further foodborne diseases.

The fundamental of good food hygiene include:

  • keeping your kitchen, hands, and utensils clean and germ-free
  • separating raw and cooked food, raw meat and fresh produce cooking food thoroughly
  • keeping food at safe temperatures must be below 5 °C or above 60 °C
  • using clean and safe water as well as raw material.

By following these 5 critical recommendations for more preventive and safer food, you may prevent many common foodborne diseases.

Limit salt intake

The availability of fresh foods might decrease, and it becomes essential to rely more on frozen, canned, or processed foods. Many food items contain high levels of salt. WHO also recommends consuming less than 5 g of salt per day. To achieve this level, prioritize your foods with reduced or no added salt. You may consider rinsing canned foods before eating like vegetables and beans to remove excess sodium. Be aware of the fact that pickled foods contain high levels of sodium too. In some countries, 50–75% of the salt intake comes from the foods we eat, rather than what we add ourselves. You may be consuming enough salt. Avoid adding extra salt when cooking meals or at the table. Instead, use fresh or dried herbs and spices to add flavor.

Limiting the sugar intake

WHO recommends less than 5% of total energy intake for adults. It should come from free sugars, that is about six teaspoons if you crave sweet, prioritize fresh fruit always for that. Frozen fruits, canned fruits in juice over the syrup, and … yes, for dried fruits but with no added sugar as preservatives are also good options. When dessert options are chosen make a plan to ensure that they are low in sugar and do consume small portions. Limit the amount of honey or sugar added to foods. Do avoid sweetening your beverages.

Limiting fat intake

WHO suggests limiting total fat intake to less than 30% of total intake, in which no more than 10% may come from saturated fat. Opt for cooking methods requiring less or no fat, such as grilling, steaming, or sautéing instead of frying foods. Prefer foods that contain healthy unsaturated fats, like fish and nuts. Make a plan to limit saturated fats, trim extra fat from meat and poultry, and better choose skinless. Reduce foods such as red fatty meats, butter or full-fat dairy products, coconut oil, palm oil, solid shortening, and lard. Use lesser amounts of unsaturated fats like olive, rapeseed, or sunflower oil for cooking meals.

Avoid trans fats

Read nutrition guidance to ensure that partially hydrogenated oils must not be listed in the ingredients of the product. If food labels are unavailable, avoid foods that contain trans fats like processed and fried foods, like doughnuts and baked goods. These may be biscuits, pie crusts, frozen pizzas, cookies, crackers, and kinds of margarine that include hydrogenated fat. If in doubt, anytime, minimally processed foods and ingredients are better choices.

Consume fiber

Fiber maintains a healthy bowel and digestive system. Texture provides a prolonged feeling of fullness, preventing overeating. Make a plan to ensure necessary fiber intake, aim to include pulses, vegetables, fruit, and wholegrain foods in meals. Wholegrains foods, including oats, quinoa, brown pasta and rice, and whole-wheat bread and wraps, over-refined grain foods such as white pasta and rice, and white bread, should be preferred.

Stay hydrated

Proper hydration is essential for the best health. Tap water is the best, the cheapest, and the healthiest drink, whenever available and safe for consumption. It is the most sustainable because it produces no waste. Drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is the best way to limit the intake of sugar and excess calories. Fresh or frozen fruits like slices of citrus fruits or berries must be added To enhance its taste. Cucumber or herbs as mint, lavender, or rosemary also help a lot.
Avoid drinking copious amounts of strong coffee, strong tea, and caffeinated soft drinks and energy drinks. These may lead to dehydration and negatively impact sleeping schedules.

Avoid alcohol or reduce alcohol consumption

Drinking is not only a mind-altering and dependence-producing substance, harmful at any level consumed, but it also weakens the immune system. Thus, alcohol use and unusually heavy use limits your body’s ability to cope with infectious diseases, including corona.
It is better to avoid alcohol, in general, especially when in self-quarantine. As a psychoactive substance, alcohol affects mental state and decision-making. It makes it more vulnerable to risks of injuries, falls, or violence when under quarantine with somebody. Alcoholism is also known to increase symptoms of depression, anxiety, fear, and panic – symptoms that can intensify during isolation and self-quarantine. Consuming alcohol is not a suitable coping mechanism in the short and long term. Although you might think that it may help deal with stress.

Alcohol makes certain medications less effective and increases the toxicity and potency of others. Do not take a drink in combination with medication. Alcohol interferes with liver functions and causes serious problems, including liver failure. Under no circumstances should you consume the alcoholic product as a preventive or treatment measure against corona. Alcohol is an unnecessary part of a diet and a healthy lifestyle and should not be on the shopping list.

Enjoy family meals

The social distancing associated with the corona outbreak has meant that families are spending more time at home. It provides new opportunities to share meals. Family meals are an essential opportunity for parents to be role models for healthy eating and re-living relationships. Increased duration at home during the corona period may present new ways to involve children in cooking foods, which can help them acquire essential life skills. They can carry into adulthood. Make a plan to let children choose what vegetables to include in your meal may encourage them to eat them at the table. When involving children in cooking, it is essential to keep snacks simple and to teach children about proper food safety including handwashing, cleaning surfaces, and avoiding consumption of certain raw ingredients.