During this time of crisis our normal routines have gone out of the window in a kind of at home-bound Apocalyptic Christmas with the same food hoarding and panicky-ness but no awesome presents at the end of it. Just like Christmas our healthy habits can slip by the wayside especially if with think our only food options are dried pasta and frozen pizza with potato smiley faces accompanied by a whole bottle of gin to cope with the kids at home.
So today I’m talking about the virtues of sticking to those healthy food habits as best you can and the reasons why you should.
Eat lots of veg and fruit (frozen varieties are great as their nutrients are locked in, so don’t worry if the fresh aisles look a little bare). Broccoli, cauliflower, fresh berries, squashes, citrus, peppers and leafy greens are great for boosting your immune system. Other condiments such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and other spices support our immune health too. Basically, eat as much Veg as you can get hold of. Eggs and Mushrooms also contain vitamin D, so pack these into your diet too, super important if you can’t get outside much.
Try to avoid ready meals and processed foods, much of the ingredients in these are manufactured and provide little nutrients into the diet. Eat plenty of wholegrains, beans, pulses, lentils along with lots of veg and fruit. This will increase the good bacteria in your gut which fight infections as our gut microbes secrete antibacterial and antifungal chemicals that attack harmful invaders.
Eat some lean protein with each meal, poultry, fish, beans/ pulses, tofu, eggs, diary and yoghurt, and a little red meat, proteins are present in all our cells and a ready supply in our food will also help our immune health. Also eat Omega 3 rich fish like salmon and mackerel 1-2 times a week. This is good for your heart, circulation and will reduce the inflammation in your gut, a happy gut, means a happy immune system. Eating protein with each meal will help to keep your muscle density even if you are not able to get to the box and lift weights for a couple of weeks.
Don’t be afraid of fats, these are essential to protecting our organs and moving our vitamins around our body, make sure they are the healthy types, a little dairy, nuts, seeds, olive/ rapeseed oil and avocados.
Get in that kitchen and make yourself a lovely homecooked, nutritious meal and be creative with your ingredients. Make home cooking a family affair and get each member of the family to create a dish from cupboard staples, Puttanesca Pasta is one of my favourites.
If you are home schooling the kids do some baking, muffins, fairy cakes, banana bread, fridge bars and homemade bread are all fun to make.
I have some great recipes to share with you all over the coming weeks.
Stay hydrated! A virus can be flushed through your system with lots of water, in the case of respiratory viruses, any bacteria in your throat and mouth is then washed into your stomach where your gut bacteria can help to fight the infection. Adequate hydration also helps our organs and cells to work efficiently. Aim for at least 2-2.5 litres a day.
Consume alcohol in moderation, it can dehydrate you, and is highly calorific, something to bear in mind if you are less active, alcohol can also suppress your immune system and acts as a mild depressant. If you are susceptible to low mood, avoid alcohol for the time being.
Fresh Air and Sleep
Get as much fresh air and sunlight as you can, we can still go outside for a walk, run or get on that dusty old bike in the garage (if you have an infection and have to isolate following the Government guidelines and rest if you are unwell). Fresh air is excellent for your respiratory system and vitamin D from sunlight boosts your immune system.
Try and keep your sleep patterns as regular as possible aiming for 7-9 hours each night. If we are fatigued this can make us more susceptible to illness. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day keeps our circadian rhythm stable. This not only regulates our sleep but also keeps our hormones, appetite and hunger signals in check. If we are well rested we tend to eat healthier, eat less and make better decisions.
See the recipes below, most of the ingredients should (hopefully) already be in your store cupboards. Be inventive with ingredients and use what you have, these recipes were written before the crisis.
I will follow up with recipes from just the store cupboard and freezer. Get in touch if you need any help using what you have or you would like any guidance.
Stay safe, happy and healthy everyone.
Sam – Nourish Nutrition and Wellbeing.
Jerk prawns and beans and rice
Serves 2 very hungry people or 3 one for leftovers
150g king prawns
2 red peppers sliced
4 spring onions thinly sliced
1 tin black eyed beans drained
12 baby tomatoes
2 handfuls spinach or green beans
1 tablespoon jerk seasoning
One teaspoon olive oil
Ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
Squeeze of lemon juice when
One packet wholewheat microwave rice
Calories per serving 706
Chickpea tomato and pea curry – brown rice/ quinoa
1 tin chickpeas drained
1 tin chopped tin tomatoes
2 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
1 large red onion sliced
4 big handfuls of spinach
Ground Black pepper and sea salt to taste
Serve with quinoa/ brown rice or on its own if grain free ( if veggie/ vegan serve with rice/ quinoa to complete your protein profile for the meal)
Calories per serving 187 (without rice or quinoa)
With quinoa 1 cup per serving
With brown rice 75g per serving