As the UK is heading down for a strict three week lockdown due to the pandemic of Covid-19, we think it’s time that we put our chef’s hat on and eat healthy while staying indoors. Eating right will help boost your happy hormones like dopamine that will in return keep you in a more cheerful and uplifting mood during self-isolation and social distancing. By now, I am hoping that you have stocked up your pantry and are ready to ride out the wave of WFH initiative. Start with the basics when your goal is to stay healthy. Get your vegetables and fruits daily, especially if you are going from a very active lifestyle to suddenly being quarantined to a sedentary lifestyle of zoom work meetings from the dining table. There are some great essential, nutrient packed foods that will help you do this.
Tangerines and Oranges
Being stuck indoors means you won’t be getting your daily dose of Vitamin C from the sun and if you are getting in by going outside for a few hours, then it’s still a good idea to pack in those tangerines and oranges. Vitamin C helps to protect cells and keep them healthy which you will need to strengthen your immune system so your body can resist even the mildest symptoms of coronavirus. Other than than, it helps maintain blood vessels, healthy skin and bones and cartilages. The more you get of vitamin C, the better.
These include kale, spinach, cabbage, okra and broccoli. They are packed with calcium which helps to build strong bones and teeth and regulates muscle contractions including your heart (sourced from NHS website). Leafy greens are so important when you are indoors in self-isolation as movement can be limited when your WFH and your bones need plenty of nutrients that help strengthen them as your movement slows down for the weeks coming up ahead. Adults aged 19 – 64 need around 700mg of calcium a day (sourced from Government Dietary Recommendations, UK, 2016) which typically should be taken through your daily diet.
Brown rice, bulgar, oatmeal and wholewheat pasta, bread and crackers all come under this category. There are many benefits of wholegrains which include antioxidants, protein, fibre and iron. All of them are important when living indoors because they provide energy, however, wholegrains are full of fibre and help regulate your bowel movements. It’s important to have a good regulating bowel movement because as of recent years research has shown that hormones such as serotonin and dopamine are created in the gut and if your bowels are regulating well then your mood won’t be affected as much when your working from indoors and not going outside as much. Low moods are less like to occur if your gut and bowels are healthy. According to UK Governmental health guidelines published in 2015 state that adults should be taking 30g a day of fibre.
Iron is one the most important minerals to take, especially when you are indoors for prolonged hours. This is because iron is important in making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body and getting a good supply of oxygen is vital when you aren’t moving around a lot and living a more sedentary lifestyle because iron will aid in fighting fatigue and lethargy. Low iron levels in men and women both leads to fatigue and muscle weakness. The recommended daily intake is 14.8mg for women aged 19-50 and 8.7mg for men aged over 18 (as outlined by the NHS and UK Governmental health guidelines). Foods high in iron include red meats like steaks, lamb and minced meat, beans, nuts, salmon, chicken eggs and spinach. All these products are now easily available in the supermarkets now.
The most common, easy and healthy fats include avocados, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, whole eggs and dark chocolate. Despite the panic buy attitude of many people over the past few days, the supermarkets are now stocked in full, including these healthy fats. The reason why healthy fats are so important are because they help digest Vitamins D,E and A – which is essential for your body. Some fats like omega-3 (found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel) and omega-6 found in nuts are not made in the body and therefore need to be sourced from outside. These types of fats, along with all monounsaturated fats (as stated above) and unsaturated fats (like oily fish) are essential for normal brain function and therefore ideal for your diet when working from home where you are more focused on keeping your mental health and wellbeing in general on a positive and healthy note.
Written by Mona Azam