06 Apr Health and nutrition tips during self-quarantine
By Reproclinic Editorial Committee
As countries are taking stronger measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, self-quarantine and the temporary closing of businesses may affect normal food-related practices. Everyone, healthy individuals and even more so those showing acute respiratory disease symptoms, are being requested to stay at home. In some countries, restaurants and take-away offers are being limited, and some fresh items are becoming less available.
Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in times when the immune system might need to fight back. Limited access to fresh foods may compromise opportunities to continue eating a healthy and varied diet. It can also potentially lead to increased consumption of highly processed foods, which tend to be high in fats, sugars and salt. Nonetheless, even with few and limited ingredients, one can continue eating a diet that supports good health.
Being physically active, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol are some other habits that will help you keep healthy during the quarantine.
Here you have some general tips to help you during the quarantine.
1) Be strategic about the use of ingredients – prioritize fresh products
Use fresh ingredients and those that have a shorter shelf life first. If fresh products, especially fruits, vegetables and reduced-fat dairy products continue to be available, prioritize these over non-perishables. Frozen fruits and vegetables can also conveniently be used over longer periods of time and often have a similar nutrient profile to fresh foods. To avoid food waste, you may consider freezing any leftovers for another meal.
2) Prepare home-cooked meals
During regular daily life, many individuals do not often have the time to prepare home-cooked meals. Spending longer periods at home, you will now have the possibility to make those recipes you didn’t have time for before. Many healthy and delicious recipes can be found online.
3) Be aware of portion sizes
It can be difficult to get the right portion sizes, especially if you’re a rookie in the kitchen, but be careful, because being at home for so an extended period, mainly if on your own or with restricted activities, can also lead you to overeating.
4) Follow safe food handling practices
Food safety is a prerequisite for food security and a healthy diet. Only safe food is healthy food. When preparing food for yourself and others, it is important to follow good food hygiene practices to avoid food contamination and foodborne diseases. The fundamental principles of good food hygiene include:
- keep your hands, kitchen and utensils clean;
- separate raw and cooked food, especially raw meat and fresh products;
- cook your food thoroughly;
- keep your food at safe temperatures, either below 5 °C or above 60 °C; and
- use safe water and raw material.
By following these five key recommendations for safer food, you can prevent many common foodborne diseases.
5) Limit your salt intake
The availability of fresh foods may decrease, and it may, therefore, become necessary to rely more on canned, frozen or processed foods. Many of these foods contain high levels of salt. The WHO recommends consuming less than 5 g of salt per day. To achieve this, prioritize foods with reduced or no added salt.
6) Limit your sugar intake
The WHO recommends that ideally less than 5% of total adults’ energy intake should come from free sugars (about six teaspoons). If you crave something sweet, fresh fruit should always be the priority.
Limit the amount of sugar or honey added to foods and avoid sweetening your beverages.
7) Consume enough fibre
Fibre contributes to a healthy digestive system and elongates the feeling of fullness, which helps prevent overeating. To ensure an adequate fibre intake, aim to include vegetables, fruit, pulses and wholegrain foods (such as oats, brown pasta and rice) in all meals.
8) Stay hydrated
Proper hydration is crucial for optimal health. Whenever available and safe for consumption, tap water is the healthiest and cheapest drink. It is also the most sustainable, as it produces no waste, compared to bottled water. Drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is a simple way to limit your intake of sugar and excess calories.
9) Avoid alcohol or at least reduce your alcohol consumption
It is recommended to avoid alcohol in general, but even more so when in self-quarantine. Alcohol consumption is also known to increase symptoms of depression, anxiety, fear and panic – symptoms that can intensify during isolation and self-quarantine. Although you might think that it will help you deal with stress, consuming alcohol is never a good coping mechanism, neither in the short nor the long term.
10) Enjoy meals
The social distancing associated with the COVID-19 outbreak has meant that many families and couples are spending more time at home, which provides new opportunities to share healthy meals together and strengthen their relationships by the way. If you are alone, you can also find different platforms and apps that allow you to share the meals with your friends and relatives online.
11) Be active, stay healthy!
Physical activity is also essential to stay healthy and, on that sense, to support individuals in staying physically active while at home, the WHO/Europe provides specific guidance for this period of quarantine, including tips and examples of home-based exercises. There are also many online free options and sport apps to help you keep active and fit during the quarantine: several fitness clubs and trainers are sharing exercise routines and doing live classes on Instagram and other platforms.
12) Get enough sleep
Getting enough good quality sleep is essential to keep our general health and our immune system in good shape. Ideally, you should get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep daily. To help you sleep better, avoid drinking large amounts of caffeinated drinks, especially in the afternoon and evening. Avoid using any electronic device (including mobile phone, tablet, TV, etc.) at least 1 hour before the time you plan to go to sleep ; this is the perfect moment to read a book, meditate, listen to relaxing music, etc.
13) Manage stress
A self-quarantine is a situation that can be quite nerve-racking, and it is therefore very important to learn how to manage the stress you might experience. Being active and doing exercise daily will enable you to cope with strain; for instance, meditation and yoga are some of the practises that can help you deal with stress and anxiety.
Should this not be enough during this difficult time, at Reproclinic, we also collaborate with specialised coaches and counsellors, whom we can refer you to for an online consultation if needed.
14) Try new things
The fact of being locked down and hence unable to do most of our daily activities actually leaves us more free time. Why not to make the most of it by exploring new hobbies and start doing those things that you have always put on hold because you never had time for them? It’s a great opportunity to be creative!
We have to focus on our daily goals, try to stay positive and be grateful for everything we do have. Be confident that this situation will resolve and, hopefully, sooner rather than later!
In the meantime, at Reproclinic, we keep on working to help you build the family of your dreams. Contact us to schedule a free online consultation with one of our fertility experts to assess your case.
STAY HOME; BE SAFE, SAFE LIVES!