By Nurul Khairiah Mohamed Yusof
Maintaining a healthy diet through an Movement Control Order (MCO) is not an easy thing. Here are some ideas to help your family maintain a nutritious diet
The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak is upending life for families around the world. In Malaysia, the impact of the Movement Control Order (MCO) has created several factors are a concern for people when it comes to purchasing the right food to eat healthy, such as:
Change in spending power due to unemployment or a drop in income.
Panic buying which has caused a dip in supply of certain specialty goods.
Limiting shopping excursions due to MCO regulations and fear of infection.
Social distancing causing long queues and long waits to enter supermarkets or markets.
Understandably with these factors and more, the stress of getting used to this way of life can lead to looking to ready meals and processed food. However, with a little bit of effort, you can supply yourself your family with a varied and nutritious diet without costing a fortune.
#1. Understand the meaning of a balanced diet
Have a balanced eating habits that consists of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits. It should also contain sufficient nutrients for your body. According to National Health Service , fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, Vitamin C and Potassium, while meat and fish is a good source of protein. Try eating in a moderate portion everyday and remember to enjoy the meal (yes, you can have your cheat day too!).
If you feel that cooking is not for you, you can opt for a takeaway foods. Remember to add some greens to ensure you have a balanced meals (chop some carrots or cucumber to eat as a side along with that char koay teow).
#2. Buy Fresh Stuff From Local, Store-Brand
When you think of a nutritious meal, fresh produce like meats are some of the items that come to mind. But, this stuff can be quite expensive too, especially when you want to save some money. You can alternate eating between meats and poultry while increasing your vegetables and fruits intake (cheaper and easier to prepare).
You can also consider buying fresh produce that last longer, for example:
Look for local farmers’ produce when you go grocery shopping. Not only they are cheaper and have more supply compared to imported goods but you can contribute to local’s businesses as encouraged by our government. Some of the produces are bean sprouts, brinjal, coriander, and ginger.
Fresh produce is almost always the best option, but when it is not available, you can opt for frozen and canned food. Not only it can be stored for months or even years, but according to the American Council on Exercise, frozen produce is just as healthy as the fresh variety!
You can also shop for store-brand products. For example, chain supermarkets like Tesco and Giants have some quality and affordable items under their own branding and most importantly it is local! You can look for cooking oil, fresh vegetables, frozen sausages, and sugar, to name a few.
#3. Make a shopping list and meal plan.
Plan ahead your meals. Visualize breakfast, lunch, and dinner for at least 5 days. What will you serve? What do you need? Know what ingredients to buy in advance for days/weeks/months and add to your shopping lists. You can include some snacks in between meals. Rather than having sweets or salty snacks, opt for healthier options like nuts, cheese, yogurt (preferably unsweetened), chopped or dried fruits, and other locally available healthy options.
Keep your shopping lists updated and handy. Either you write your products in a small piece of paper or use your notepad apps on your mobile phone, so you won’t risk forgetting stuff to buy. After that, you only need to run for groceries shopping once and haul all you wanted for a week, fortnight or even a month. Tip: Buying in bulk is also cheaper compared to normal food packaging.
Consider using apps or online-based delivery for your groceries shopping to practice better social distancing during this MCO period. You can use apps like Happy Fresh (Google Play Store, App Store) , BungkusIt (Google Play Store, App Store) and MyGroser (Google Play Store, App Store) or other local supermarkets to make it easier to shop.
#4. Food hygiene tips during Covid-19 outbreak
While at present there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), it may be possible that people can become infected by touching a surface or object contaminated by the virus and then touching their face.
The higher risk though comes from being in close contact with other people while food shopping or receiving a food delivery. As always, good hygiene is important when handling food to prevent any food-borne illnesses.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing any food.
Wash unpackaged produce, such as fruit and vegetables, thoroughly under running water.
Use separate chopping boards to prepare uncooked meat and fish.
Cook food to the recommended temperature.
Where possible, keep perishable items refrigerated or frozen, and pay attention to product expiry dates.
Aim to recycle or dispose of food waste and packaging in an appropriate and sanitary manner, avoiding a build-up of refuse which could attract pests.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating and make sure your children do the same.
Always use clean utensils and plates.
Maintaining healthy eating habits can be a challenging task for parents to ensure everyone gets sufficient nutrients with limited sources (due to limitations in buying groceries) but with proper planning, you can provide your family with a nutritious meal while not burning a hole in your pockets.
What other tips you have to maintain healthy eating habits during MCO? Share with us in the comments section below.