Stay indoors, eat healthy, stay healthy!
The latest turn of events due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus may have forced us to make some unexpected changes to our lifestyle and routine, but let not this deter our positivity towards life. Let’s stop brooding, take charge of the situation and turn it to our benefit. This time will pass too, but it is what we make of it that matters.
While we gradually adapt to our new routine, self-imposed isolation and social distancing it is imperative to maintain uncompromised hygiene and ensure that we adopt (if not already done) a healthy lifestyle, a crucial prerequisite to boosting immunity and strengthening our body’s natural defense system.
Given that we are now spending all day at home, and with the gyms being closed it is natural that we spend more time on the couch watching television and indulge in binge eating. The only solution to spring back to a healthy lifestyle is to exercise willpower to ensure that we do not give in to the food cravings, desist from emotional eating and get ourselves moving to the beats of Zumba, Aerobics or Yoga; within the safe environment of our homes.
Adding a much-needed routine to your daily meals, Dr. Dana, Clinical Dietician for India Gate, KRBL Ltd provides tips on healthy eating and also suggests ways in which you can make your stay at home healthier for yourself and your family.
- Start your day with one dried fig, followed by a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Wash it down with a glass of warm water infused with a slice of lemon and ginger. This is an excellent antioxidant to give you a refreshed and energetic start to the day.
- Get innovative and dish out healthy and delicious breakfast since it’s the first meal to savour. Get your children involved in preparing it, so it becomes an opportunity to bond together and spend quality family time, while also teaching them cooking and the importance of healthy eating.
Tips: For beginners, try adding chia and flax seeds to Zaater for a wholesome difference in taste and health.
- If you absolutely love coffee and can’t do without your morning dose of caffeine, then my advice to you is to have it after breakfast (preferably without adding milk or sugar).
- Snacking and binge eating – Considering the prolonged hours you are spending at home, snacking is inevitable. But now that you have some extra time in hand, use it to prepare some healthy snack options that you and your family can relish without any guilt. You can prepare granola bars using quinoa and honey or energy cookies made from seeds and nuts. Incorporate in your diet a variety of nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts and pistachios along with seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Substitute sugar with honey. Those with a sweet tooth can pander to their cravings by using healthy ingredients to prepare desserts. For example, you can prepare a healthy cheese cake containing oats biscuit, yogurt, chia seeds, organic strawberries or use berry jam and fresh strawberries.
- For women, I recommend using recipes that are both healthy and easy to cook. Prepare salads that are colourful by using a wide variety of vegetables, with healthy seasonings like lemon or vinegar with olive oil or Labneh with mustard and vinegar with herbs.
Tips: Restrict the use of salt as much as possible. Instead of adding salt while cooking, sprinkle as much as required once you finish cooking. This is because salt causes water retention and might worsen hypertension, especially with currently higher than usual stress levels.
- The increased hours spent indoors and the closure of gymnasiums have resulted in diminished levels of physical activity hence, increasing the probability of gaining weight.
I advise incorporating quinoa or sprouted brown rice to your daily lunch, a gluten free substitute to wheat. We can add quinoa to salad and prepare a very delicious quinoa tabbouleh or prepare biryani using sprouted brown rice. Quinoa is rich in protein and fibres and hence helps in maintaining a healthy weight.
On the other hand, sprouted brown rice is a good substitute for white rice due to the superior amount of nutrients that help in reducing risk factors of main chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes and high blood lipids. Additionally, it will also help ladies suffering from polycystic ovaries system in the regulation of insulin levels in their blood, and consequently in the regulation of their body hormones.
We can eat sprouted brown rice as a main dish with any protein source or a side dish or we can use it to make delicious appetisers in the form of rice balls stuffed with veggies or cheese.
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. I always encourage home-makers to keep ready a big platter of fruits plated in an appealing manner. Also vegetables such as celery, carrots, cucumber, green pepper and lettuce can add lots of colour and flavour to your palate.
Tip: If you crave salty snacks, you can have air popped popcorn, seasoned with sumac or Zaater mixed with chia and flax (seeds instead of adding salt).
- Desserts – Those with a sweet tooth can pander to their cravings by using healthy ingredients to prepare desserts. For example, you can prepare a healthy cheese cake containing oat biscuit, yogurt, chia seeds, organic strawberries or use berry jam and fresh strawberries. Try these interesting and healthy bites to soothe the cravings and binge without guilt:
- Dates or green apple stuffed with peanut butter, garnished with flax, chia seeds and little bit of cinnamon. Makes for soul-filling experience
- Bananas with honey and pistachio, garnished with flax and chia seeds will lift your spirits instantly!
- Dinner – A healthy and convenient option would be to make a preparation of Yogurt, Tahina, boiled chickpeas or beetroot or spinach, oats, flax and chia seeds, lemon juice and pomegranate. Makes for a complete meal without spending too much time cooking.
The focus on diet shouldn’t retract from the need to increase our physical activity levels. You can make this a fun by engaging in your favourite activities like dancing or stick to basics like walking (using any workout app to track steps, heart rate, calories burned etc.). The rule of the thumb is to aim for 1,000 steps a day if you intend to maintain weight or up to 15,000 steps a day if your objective is to lose weight.
The underlying principle is that if you are fairly healthy and just want to retain your present weight, balance calories that you consume and burn, while if you want to lose weight, you will need to burn more calories than you consume.
On a final note, I urge all of you to wash your hands well, as frequently, to protect yourselves and your families.
Together we will overcome it all whilst remaining cautious and healthy.