Food is something that unites us all. We all need to eat but we don’t just eat to survive – we eat to celebrate, to commiserate, to socialise and for many other reasons. A number of colleagues have asked us what they can eat to strengthen their immune systems. I think they were hoping for a simple answer such as ‘eat more blueberries’, but the honest truth is that our bodies need a variety and balance of nutrients. We advise everyone to follow the NHS Eatwell Guide, to ensure that their bodies receive all the nutrients they need to work efficiently. Eating Well During Lockdown How do we eat well when we are trying to minimise the number of trips to the shops or when we can’t access food very easily because we have to stay at home? Here are some tips that might just make life a little bit easier and ensure that you get the good food your body needs:
- Plan your shop before you go or order online so you can buy enough food to last you until your next shop.
- Plan your meals to prioritise foods that are likely to go off sooner.
- Shop for food that lasts longer – buy frozen and tinned foods, UHT milk and an extra loaf of bread to freeze or bread that will last longer, such as pitta bread and wraps. Choose fresh fruit and veg that last longer, such as apples, butternut squash, pineapples, oranges, carrots and white cabbage.
- Frozen fruit and veg can actually be better for you than fresh, as it is often frozen as soon as it is picked so the nutrients and flavour are locked in, and supermarkets offer a wide range of frozen fruit and veg to choose from.
- Tinned foods such as sweetcorn, potatoes, beans and tomatoes can be really handy and healthy. Tinned fish is inexpensive compared to fresh and it is still rich in omega 3 oils, calcium (if you eat the bones) and vitamin D. Here are a few easy and adaptable recipes for fish cakes and a zesty tuna salad. Tinned stewing steak is better than it sounds and great for a Sunday dinner, bolognaise or chilli con carne.
- Tinned and dried pulses are a great store cupboard essential. They count as one of your five a day and are also full of protein and carbohydrate, making them a nutritious food that can be added to bulk out stews and sauces. They can also be used to make to chilli, hummus and falafel.
- Fed up with cooking every day?
- Make a big batch of a meal so you can save some for the next day or freeze it for a day when you don’t feel like cooking.
- Check to see if your favourite restaurant is open for delivery or takeaway.
- Think about some meals that are really easy to prepare, such as a curry sauce with added meat or veg, or add some veggies to a margarita pizza.
- Save your leftovers – they make great lunches or snacks; sometimes you just need to bulk them out with a little something extra. You can find some inspiration here.
- Bored of eating the same old thing?
- Try looking up a few new recipes online before you plan your shop or dig out some old cookbooks for inspiration.
- The BBC Good Food website has some great ideas and tips.
- Healthy baking – you can add fruit and vegetables to baking recipes such as carrot cake and banana and peanut butter brownies. Again, you can find lots of good ideas online.
- Random food in the house? Try typing your ingredients into the BBC food recipe finder and see what recipes come up.
- Snacks are a good opportunity to boost your nutrient intake; here are a few ideas:
- Fresh or dried fruit
- A handful of nuts
- Cracker with nut butter – peanut, cashew and almond nut butters are delicious
- Hummus and veg sticks
- Fruit smoothies (great with frozen fruit)
- Fruit sorbets, made from blended frozen fruit
- Food for nutrition
If you’re looking to boost nutrition you should consider eating fruit and veg in a rainbow of colours, as the colour itself is a nutrient (or to be more precise, a phytonutrient). Each phytonutrient offers a benefit to our body – for example, the phytonutrient that gives grapes and other purple fruit and veg their colour is anthocyanin, a strong antioxidant, which helps to keep your body young. When shopping, check that your trolley has a rainbow of colours and if not, top up on the missing ones. Remember, a healthy diet is no substitute to keeping your distance, washing your hands, and staying home where possible.
‘Everything in moderation, including moderation’ – so treat yourself from time to time.