Living during a Pandemic seems to have had quite an impact on how and what people eat. The uncertainty and anxiety we have all shared has translated, in many cases, to eating differently. For some, it has meant more meals at home and people have become more adventurous about cooking. Local markets selling fresh ingredients have flourished, perhaps because people don’t like queuing at supermarkets.
It is easy to ‘comfort eat’ and that has also been a common response. So perhaps now, as the vaccine programme is giving us hope of a more secure future, it is a good time to think about what sensible eating looks like.
No matter what our state of health, we all need broadly the same nutrients to ensure a complete and healthy diet. This means eating food that provides protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium as well as food that includes carbs with fibre for energy and healthy bowels.
There is a simple way of ensuring we can achieve this, which is to try and plan your meals for each day. These should include:
‘Your 5 a day’: This is at least five helpings of fruit, vegetables or salad that will give you vitamins and fibre.
Two servings of Dairy: Two servings of dairy a day will help to ensure you get a good proportion of protein and all your calcium. Dairy products include milk, yoghurt, cheese, or anything made from those ingredients. Top Tip! If you use a milk substitute, make sure you check it has been manufactured to provide the same levels of calcium and protein as cow’s milk.
Two servings of: Two servings of meat, fish, eggs or pulses, which will provide you with the rest of the protein you need in your diet. Pulses mean vegetable protein such as beans, lentils, Quorn or soya, and there are plenty of products that use these protein sources.
Five servings a day of starchy foods: Starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta, rice and anything made from flour will provide energy and fibre. Flour products contain an important B vitamin that helps turn the energy in food into energy our muscles can use. Plain items such as bread, breakfast cereal, crackers and pasta are a good choice if you want to keep a lid on your weight. If you have a small appetite and struggle to eat well, choose energy dense foods such as cakes, biscuits, puddings and anything made using pastry.