A Dietitian’s Top Tips for Eating Well During Self-Isolation
Eating Well During Self-Isolation – Staying adequately hydrated and eating well is important throughout the year, but even more so during this coronavirus pandemic. Official guidance is changing on a daily basis, with more and more people implementing social distancing measures or self-isolating.
Store cupboard essentials
Whilst it’s important to avoid panic buying, as this may prevent other people from accessing food, it’s a good idea to ensure that you (and those around you) have a supply of store cupboard/freezer/fridge essentials, especially if you do need to self-isolate at home.
Suitable foods may include:
- Tinned fish/vegetables
- Dried pasta and rice
- Jars of pasta sauces
- Canned soup
- Breakfast cereals
- Frozen fish/meat/vegetables
- Nuts/seeds/nut butters
- Dried fruit
Fresh isn’t the only option
Don’t be afraid to include tinned or frozen fruits and vegetables in your diet. These foods are just as nutritious as their fresh varieties. In fact, evidence suggests that frozen fruits and vegetables may contain higher levels of certain nutrients (i.e. vitamin C) compared to their fresh counterparts due to them being frozen at the point of picking.
Fruit juice and dried fruits are also great ways to help you to meet the 5-a-day recommendation, a portion of (unsweetened) fruit juice is 150mls and a portion of dried fruit is around 30g (i.e. heaped tablespoon of raisins or 3-4 dried apricots).
Embrace pre-prepared meals
There are plenty of retailers offering ready meals that are tasty and nutritious. Many of these meals are available in individual portion sizes for people who live alone or have reduced appetite. These can be kept in the freezer up until the “use-by date”.
If you are able to, you could also batch cook some frozen meals for yourself and others around you. Make sure you label the container with dates so you know when the food was prepared. It’s also important to ensure that you chill, freeze, and defrost your food safely.
Suitable suggestions for frozen pre-prepared meals include:
- Casseroles and stews
- Fish pie
- Shepherd’s pie
If you or your loved one need pre-prepared meals delivered to your homes, consider using national providers such as Wiltshire Farm Foods, Oakhouse Foods, or retailers such as Cook! For older people, you could also investigate other options in your local area such as Meals on Wheels and local meal-delivery groups run by churches and charities.
Stick to a regular eating routine
Try to stick to your normal eating routine as much as possible. Aim for three regular meals per day at your usual mealtimes. If you don’t have others to eat with, you might like to phone a friend or FaceTime/Skype with friends and family to make the eating experience more sociable. Whilst we often talk about limiting background digital distractions (i.e. TV or radio) at mealtimes, you might find some background noise comforting during mealtimes if you’re self-isolating alone.
No quick fixes
Whilst you may read about “immune-boosting” supplements, juices and quick-fix pills, this is misleading information that is not supported by scientific evidence.
The best way to optimise your immune system is to eat a healthy and balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, heart-healthy fats and wholegrains, pulses, and legumes. For most people, this will provide you with all the vitamins and minerals needed to stay well.
One exception to this is vitamin D – an important vitamin for healthy bones and immunity. The UK government recommends that everyone over the age of one should consume a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement during winter months (October to April) due to limited sunlight exposure. You can purchase vitamin D supplements from your local pharmacy or supermarket.
Looking out for others
We are going through difficult times, and understandably, people are concerned about how best to support friends and family with eating well, especially older people.
It’s never been a better time to reach out and connect with neighbours and local communities. If it’s safe for you to do so, why not batch-cook some meals to deliver to your elderly neighbours or offer to pick up some groceries when you’re next at the shops. Even a phone call or note through the door to check-in with those around you can go a long way in helping others.
AYMES Retail is ideal for people who need additional calories and protein but don’t require a prescription, providing up to 265kcal per serving when mixed with 200ml whole milk. It’s a nutritionally-balanced, over-the-counter build-up shake, presented in a powder format and available in four flavours.
AYMES Retail is a great store cupboard essential for anyone with poor appetite and is available to order online (delivered right to your door) or at pharmacies.
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