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Keeping the Family Healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic
11 February 2021

The Covid-19 global pandemic has raised a lot of hype around being healthy and eating certain foods to minimize or reduce the risk of infection. It is important to be aware that not all the advice in the media or on social media is evidence-based and there is simply no ‘quick fix’ to boosting the immune system nor is there a specific food that can prevent you from getting infected.

The focus for all should be on following healthy balanced diets that support a healthy immune system as well as following the principles of a healthy lifestyle (not smoking, exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep and managing stress). Here are some tips and foods to include as part of a balanced healthy diet

1. Include lots of color and variety in fruits and vegetables daily. Always aim for a variety of color with your fruit and vegetables. This can also include frozen vegetables.

2. Include Omega 3 rich proteins weekly (Salmon, pilchards, sardines, herring, trout, and mackerel). If you don’t like oily fish you can try include some flaxseeds, flaxseed oil or chia seeds in your food but the absorption and conversion from the oily fish is best.

3. In order to get your daily dose of Vitamin D - Make sure you encourage the kiddies to get some sunshine during the day (10-30 minutes with exposed skin) Food sources of Vitamin D include egg, Dairy products, and oily fish. Another nice tip is to take your punnet of mushrooms and slice them, place them in the sun for 30-60 minutes before cooking to increase the Vitamin D content of the mushrooms.

4. Include lean proteins daily (chicken, fish, lean red meat, beans, lentils, chickpeas, beans shellfish).

5. Include healthy fats in your diet (avocado, nuts (such as brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts), home-made hummus while removing visible fats from meats.

6. Include whole grain carbohydrates daily (brown rice, wholegrain bread, whole wheat pasta/couscous, bulgur wheat) and limit your intake of refined carbohydrates (sugar,, white bread, white pasta, etc.).

7. In place of salt use fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, turmeric and onion in your cooking.

8. Foods to limit or enjoy in moderation include those that are high in sugar and salt (take-aways, sweet desserts, chocolates, pastries/fried foods, sugary beverages). 

9. Always opt for water as the drink of choice, and limit sugary beverages. 

10. Implement strategies to minimize stress:

  • Routine- Make set meal and snack times while working from home or home schooling

  • Plan ahead: Planning is key to eating healthy. It ensures that your grocery shop is healthy and efficient. 

  • Make extra meals in bulk. For example make a big batch of mince and freeze some of it for days when you are stressed or work is busy

11. Plan your meals - The best way to avoid numerous trips to the grocery store (which is what we want to avoid) is to plan your meals. Make a list of all the foods in your pantry and plan your meals from there. Start with the fresh ingredients that will go off first and then plan meals with your frozen foods once you have used up your fresh ingredients.

12. Freeze fruit that is going to go off - Cut up fruit and freeze it in ziplock bags so that you can still use it for a fruit smoothie at another time to prevent food wastage or spoilage.

13. Make set mealtimes - Having set mealtimes will prevent you from opening the fridge every few minutes to eat unnecessarily. This also includes having set snack times as you would if you were at the office to prevent grazing throughout the day.

14. Choose healthy snacks - Snack on food such as fruit, raw vegetables, home-made popcorn, unsalted nuts, cottage cheese and avoid snacking on empty calorie foods such as chips, chocolates and sweets.

15. Make your food tasty - Keep your lock down meals exciting with natural flavourants such as fresh herbs, plain spices, garlic, ginger, onion, pepper, wine, and turmeric for example.

16. Be mindful about your eating - Try and recognize when you are eating due to stress, boredom or other emotions and rather look for positive ways of dealing with those emotions such as exercise, mediation, or yoga for example.

17. Keep a food diary/food record - If you are someone who struggles with self-discipline in the kitchen, keeping a food diary can help keep you in check. Write down everything you are eating and drinking daily to be more aware of what you are putting into your body.

If you are still struggling to feel motivated and healthy during this stressful time book a virtual consultation with a dietitian.

Kelly Gruber (Ansley), Registered Dietitian
Contact Information:
Office +27 11 684 2285/6
Email ​

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