Our routines are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in different ways. During difficult times like this, it’s more important than ever to look after our general health and eating well is a huge part of that.
You may be eating more than usual or finding it difficult to decide what to cook, so we have pulled together advice and ideas from our trusted partners to help us all through this time.
Healthy eating routine tips
Keeping to some sort of schedule each day will help stave off boredom which may have you grazing on easily accessible foods all day. Such structures are also good for children who may be out of their usual routine.
try to keep to regular times for 3 meals and 2-3 snack breaks a day
set an alarm on your phone for the first few days to remind you to keep to these routines
try to pick healthier foods if you can. Use the food pyramid
as a guide
put a reminder or note on the fridge and treats cupboard to make you think twice before eating outside of mealtimes
make a list of the meals you’re going to make so it can help you plan for the week.
make sure to drink plenty of water, keeping hydrated is so important
You can find more help with developing your food plans here.
Here is an example
that you can follow or amend to suit yourself.
Many of you with young families are now finding yourselves juggling childcare, full-time work and other competing responsibilities. Maybe you’re in an essential role with very little time to cook or are having to cook for yourself for the first time. Whatever your circumstance, figuring out “What’s for dinner?” can be a daily challenge.
For absolute beginners find some videos on basic kitchen skills here.
Fresh produce is almost always the best option, but when it is not available there are plenty of healthy alternatives that are easy to store and prepare e.g tinned and frozen foods. Make sure your store cupboard is stocked with key everyday ingredients, for example pasta, rice, and eggs.
While we are cooped up at home, the temptation for treats is stronger for both ourselves and our children. Don’t cut out treat foods completely, a little now and then is okay.
Follow the simple tips below to make this process a bit easier:
try not to keep a large supply of treats at home, this just adds to the temptation. The shops will remain open so you don’t need to stockpile
make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks available, such as fruit, veg, cheese, nuts, and yoghurt
don’t be afraid to say no to giving your kids treats. Find other ways of rewarding them, such as playing a game with them, allowing them to Skype or call a friend, or allowing them to choose a movie to watch
Safefood have more useful tips on managing treats here.
For some more ideas for healthy snacks click here.
Many restaurants and takeaways are still working and delivering food.
Use our tips below to help you make a healthier takeaway choice:
takeaway portions are often quite large and ideally should be shared between two people
dishes labelled deep fried, battered or crispy should be eaten less often as these are higher in calories, fat and salt than foods that are not deep fried
avoid nibbling on poppadoms and dips, or prawn crackers – on average, one portion of poppadoms contains over 100 calories, an average portion of prawn crackers contains over 600
for a healthier pizza option, opt for more vegetables such as sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms, onions, olives and so on and ask for less cheese or a low fat cheese option
opt for a thinner crust, small or medium pizza rather than a large deep base
For some more practical tips on making healthier takeaway choices go to safefood.eu
Some of you are now cocooning or may be looking after someone who is.
Here are some simple tips to help maintain a healthy eating routine during this time:
follow a routine - 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. Use the Food Pyramid
as a guide
your body needs some protein at every meal – good sources are meat, chicken, fish, beans and peas, nuts and seeds and eggs
have family or friends looking after you to get fresh food whenever they can but also add in a few of these longer life foods for your store cupboard - tuna and sardines, baked beans, cartons of chicken soup or cans of lentil soup, tinned and dried fruit, dessert rice, and custard powder
dinner doesn't always have to be meat and 2 veg, some days it is fine to have beans, scrambled eggs or tuna mixed with sweetcorn and light mayonnaise on toast
ask the person who is helping you with groceries, to leave a litre of milk every second day and try to have half it daily - on cereal, in teas and coffees, as a drink with snacks and dinner and as a dessert- custard or rice pudding. You need calcium for your bones
if you are looking after someone who is cocooning remember that they are more vulnerable, so precautions must be taken to ensure their safety. You can find more information here
Cooking with children
For many people this time is an opportunity to start or continue cooking with your children. Not only will it help pass some time for them, it will also allow children to feel that they are contributing to the work of the home and allow you to have fun together as a family.
There is no exact age for starting but generally children should be encouraged to become involved with basic food preparation skills as soon as they show an interest.
Here are some guidelines to help you and your child get started:
3 year olds can help by; putting bun cases in a bun tray (helps develop motor skills); using child friendly biscuit cutters; adding small ingredients (for example, dried fruit) to the mix and so on
4 - 5 year olds can help by; whisking eggs; stirring liquid ingredients; adding dry ingredients; sifting flour; rolling cookie dough
6 - 8 year olds can help by; measuring ingredients; spooning the mix into cases; kneading dough; arranging toppings on, for example pizza / sandwich; preparing fruit for a Smoothie; preparing small snacks and so on
9 – 11 year olds can help by; preparing baked products under supervision; chopping fruit and vegetables; preparing dough; making fruity muffins; mashing potatoes; preparing pasta dishes; making pizza (allow them to name the pizza, for example Paul’s Pizza!); using food preparation equipment under supervision
At this time the usual food safety guidelines apply when preparing and cooking food. The main risk of transmission of COVID-19 is from close contact with infected people and not from contaminated food.
Here are some tips for safe food shopping:
when you go food shopping, you should wash your hands before you leave the house, avoid touching your face when you’re out and follow social distancing
when you come home, you should wash your hands straight away. Wash them again once you have unpacked and put away your shopping
if self isolating remember that you can't leave the house, get your shopping and food delivered