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Changing your mindset towards food throughout the coronavirus outbreak

On the 23rd March, the UK was sent into lockdown as part of the ongoing fight against coronavirus. Boris Johnson has specified that people can leave their homes once a day to exercise. Whether you use this as an opportunity to start running or hit the roads on a bike, there is no doubt that your usual exercise regime will be interrupted for some time. 


Since the outbreak hit the UK, there have been reports of empty shelves as supermarkets collaborate to increase the speed of supply chains to restock and keep up with demand. 


The unfortunate chain reaction of this means that it may be more challenging to find and purchase ingredients that complement our healthy lifestyles. It may be that for the foreseeable future, we need to alter our approach to food, ensuring we use ingredients that will keep us healthy as we adapt to the lockdown.


How to boost your immune system with food


While there are no foods that will actively protect you against coronavirus, there are foods that naturally aid the functioning of your immune system. Stress is known to reduce immunity, so giving yourself a little extra boost can only do good things. Look out for the following immune-system-boosting foods to help you stay strong throughout this pandemic.



Immune-system-boosting nutrients

Foods with these nutrients

Copper

  • Offal

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Dark chocolate

  • Shellfish

Folate (Vitamin B9)

  • Chickpeas

  • Peas

  • Broccoli

Iron

  • Beans

  • Dried fruit and nuts

  • Whole Grains

  • Curly kale

Selenium

  • Brazil nuts

  • Fish

  • Meat 

  • Eggs

Zinc

  • Red meat

  • Chickpeas, beans and lentils

  • Seeds and nuts

  • Cheese and milk

  • Whole grains

  • Potatoes

Vitamin A

  • Cheese

  • Eggs

  • Milk and yoghurt

  • Liver, including liver products

Vitamin B6

  • Pork, turkey or chicken

  • Soya beans

  • Potatoes

  • Bread

  • Wholegrains

Vitamin B12

  • Salmon and cod

  • Cheese

  • Eggs

  • Milk

Vitamin C

  • Potatoes

  • Oranges or orange juice

  • Broccoli

  • Strawberries and blackcurrants

Vitamin D

  • Salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring

  • Red meat

  • Egg yolks


Some of these may be easier to find than others right now, so we recommend keeping an eye out and picking up what you can when you can. While we should be particularly vigilant to source food that will strengthen our immune systems, it is equally as important not to go over the recommended daily intake. The NHS website can offer guidance regarding the recommended amount of each nutrient. 


Limit the amount of snacks you buy


During stressful periods or even times of boredom, one of the easiest habits to fall into is comfort eating. When shopping, the urge to purchase fatty or salty foods and ready meals may be stronger than when you have your healthy routine down. 


Try to avoid these as much as possible. Studies have shown that the food we eat has an impact on our mental health, which we need to keep as strong as possible during these uncertain times. Now is the time to practice the discipline you learned when getting into the habit of hitting the gym and exercising regularly.


The country-wide lockdown means you will most likely not be partaking in your usual exercises; therefore, being even more disciplined regarding your snacks will be more important than ever.


In addition to snacks being bad for our body and mental health, they are also hard on our pockets. Of course, a treat here and there shouldn’t be a problem, but be mindful of how much you are eating and continue to be disciplined.


Portion control


A lot of us will be working reduced hours, with some of us sadly being unable to work at all. Therefore, being frugal with our food is more vital than ever before. 


Regarding portion control, there should be more substantial portions of vegetables, fruits and whole grains then there is meat. Not only will this help you maintain a healthy diet during the coronavirus pandemic, but it will also be kinder on your wallet or purse.


Think about foods that have a long shelf-life


We may be used to buying fresh fruit and vegetables regularly, due to the many benefits of fresh foods; however, in lieu of the current situation, this may not be an option. 


In the short term, look toward tinned or frozen foods that will still hold some nutrients and will last longer than fresh foods. Consider stocking:


  • Frozen fruit and vegetables

  • Tinned soups and broths, or fresh options that are freezer-friendly

  • Long-life milk

  • Juices that are freezer-friendly


This will give you access to the nutrients and vitamins required for a healthy diet but will decrease the number of trips to the supermarket you have to take.


While the outbreak of coronavirus means we may not have access to our usual supply of fresh foods, by temporarily altering your mindset towards food, there are ways to stay healthy during the lockdown.


Check our nutrition resources regularly for further food and nutrition advice.