Make a plan – take only what you need Food and nutrition during covid-19
Food and nutrition during covid-19. Multiple cases of over-purchasing have been observed throughout the WHO European Region. Panic buying behavior may have negative consequences. It is therefore important to consider your own needs, as well as those of others. Assess what you already have at home and plan your intake. You might feel the need to purchase large amounts of foods. This way you can avoid food waste and allow others to access the food they need.
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 conveniently 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.
cooked meals at home – Food and nutrition during covid-19
During regular daily life, many individuals often do not have the time to prepare home-cooked meals. Spending longer periods of time at home may now offer the possibility to make those recipes you previously did not have time to make. Take advantage of the wealth of freely available information, and experiment with the ingredients you can access, but remember to keep in mind the principles for healthy eating offered in this guidance.
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 food-borne diseases. The key principles of good food hygiene include:
- keep your hands, kitchen and utensils clean
- separate raw and cooked food, especially raw meat and fresh produce
- 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 food-borne diseases.
Consume enough fiber
Fiber contributes to a healthy digestive system and offers a prolonged feeling of fullness, which helps prevent overeating. To ensure an adequate fiber intake, aim to include vegetables, fruit, pulses and wholegrain foods in all meals. Wholegrain foods include oats, brown pasta and rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread and wraps, rather than refined grain foods such as white pasta and rice, and white bread.
Good 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. To enhance its taste, fresh or frozen fruits like berries or slices of citrus fruits may be added, as well as cucumber or herbs such as mint, lavender or rosemary.
Avoid drinking large amounts of strong coffee, strong tea, and especially caffeinated soft drinks and energy drinks. These may lead to dehydration and can negatively impact your sleeping patterns.
Avoid alcohol or at least reduce your alcohol consumption
Alcohol 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 especially heavy use undermines your body’s ability to cope with infectious disease, including COVID-19.
It is recommended that alcohol in general be avoided, but especially when in self-quarantine. As a psychoactive substance, alcohol also affects your mental state and decision-making and makes you more vulnerable to risks, such as falls, injuries, or violence when under quarantine with someone else. Alcohol consumption 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 good coping mechanism, neither in the short nor long term, although you might think that it will help you deal with stress.
Alcohol also makes certain medications less effective, while increasing the potency and toxicity of others. Do not consume alcohol in combination with pain medication, as alcohol will interfere with your liver functions and might cause serious problems, including liver failure.
Under no circumstances should you consume any type of alcoholic products as a preventive or treatment measure against COVID-19.
Alcohol is not a necessary part of your diet and not part of a healthy lifestyle and should therefore not be on your shopping list.