Advice for a healthy diet during Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 lockdown
Here are 19 tips from the Nutritional Support Unit at Vall d'Hebron Hospital to stay in top health during COVID-19 lockdown.
Below are a series of tips relating to healthy habits in terms of exercise, food and drink, leisure and rest.
- Organise your intake. Split it up into 4-5 meals a day and avoid skipping the main ones. Organise the times of main meals in advance and try to keep them the same each day.
- Plan ahead! Put together family meal plans on a weekly basis, making sure they feature all the food groups. This will allow you to shop more efficiently and buy only the food items you need.
- Write a shopping list! Adapt it to the weekly meal plan. Buy the fresh ingredients you need and remember that dry and tinned products are a great option (dried beans, rice and pasta, tinned tuna, artichokes, etc.). Avoid impulse buys and food wastage.
Eat and drink healthily
The foundation for a healthy diet is one which is varied, featuring fruit, vegetables, animal and vegetable protein, cereals, eggs, dairy products and dried fruits and nuts. Processed foods and sugary drinks should only be consumed occasionally and water should be the main drink.
- Proper hydration is very important for the body. Water is the best drink. Try to have a bottle or glass of water nearby to make sure you continuously hydrate with 1.5 to 2 litres per day. There is no need to wait until you are thirsty. Teas and broths are also healthy options, but it is a good idea to avoid sugary, fizzy and alcoholic drinks.
- 3+2 = 5 a day! Fruit and vegetables should make up a major part of your diet. You should include, as a minimum, two portions of vegetable a day and three fruits throughout the day. Make sure that your meal plan includes one portion of cooked vegetable and a citrus fruit.
- Cereals form the basis of our diet. Think wholemeal! We recommend eating the wholemeal versions of pasta, bread, cereals and rice. There are other cereals too: quinoa, oats, rye, millet, buckwheat...
- Use olive oil for dressings and for cooking with. It is the best fat there is, a source of healthy fat and a Mediterranean food, which is why it is sometimes called 'liquid gold'.
- Protein-rich foods should feature every day, at lunch or in your evening meal. Meat, fish and eggs offer animal proteins and pulses offer vegetable protein.
- We recommend eating meat three to four times a week. Prioritise white meat (rabbit, chicken, turkey) and restrict red meat (beef, lamb por pork) to once or twice a week. In terms of processed meat, such as sausages, hamburgers and fatty cured sausages, only use them occasionally, as they are high in fat and unhealthy additives.
- We recommend eating fish three to four times a week. White fish (sole, hake, cod, etc.) should be combined with oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.). You could freeze it to avoid the risk of anisakis infection.
- When it comes to eggs, the recommended weekly consumption has gone up. They can now be eaten three to four times a week.
- Regular consumption of dairy products and derivatives is important for your bone and immune health. Dairy is a very important and complete food group. These products are a key source of calcium and fat-soluble vitamins. Semi-skimmed and skimmed dairy products are recommended.
- If you have a lactose intolerance, lactose-free milk and derivatives are available on the market. If you have an allergy to cow's milk protein or an aversion to milk, opt for vegetable drinks. Remember that vegetable drinks do not have the same nutritional profile as cow's milk. Wherever possible, each yoghurts and cheese.
- Eat pulses at least three times a week. They are a great source of fibre and protein. They are easy to store and very versatile when it comes to including them in a meal. This food group includes lentils, peas, chickpeas and soya, among others.
- A handful of dried fruits and nuts provides a lot of energy, healthy fat and fibre. We recommend eating some each day. A handful as a mid-morning or afternoon snack is a very healthy option, but do not eat too many as they are high in fat.
- Avoid excessive consumption of superfluous foods like cakes, treats, processed foods, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Regular consumption leads to health issues in the medium term. Save them for special occasions.
- When it comes to cooking food, griddle, steamer, wok and en papillote are the healthiest options.
Rest and physical activity
Remember that, as always, a healthy diet should be accompanied by good rest and physical activity:
- Make the most of your free time to do activities you have been meaning to get around to or hobbies you do not normally have time for. Have a go at cooking or discovering new recipes, reading or doing manual tasks.
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. We recommend incorporating sufficient aerobic exercise. You can find exercise tables and videos online.
- If you have a balcony, terrace or window, try to make sure you get between 20 and 30 minutes of sunlight every day.
- Do not forget to rest. Sleep between 7 and 8 hours a night. Try to stick to regular timetables.