The Lockdown Series: Key 4 – Unlock Nutrition

06 May 2020

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Coronavirus is now a household name. Everybody everywhere is talking about it. From news channels to social media, everything is flooding with news related to COVID-19. It’s like there’s nothing else to talk about. Humans tend to get anxious at times like these, so if you find yourself stressed or overwhelmed with emotions, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

We’d introduced this series to help people deal with this stress and stay healthy, physically and mentally. In the initial parts, we saw how to unlock mindfulness, emotional quotient and creativity. Today, in this fourth part, our nutritionist expert Hetal Pal will tell you how to unlock nutrition.

Staying healthy is extremely important now. Everybody must make their health their priority to fight this pandemic. Being fit and tough, doesn’t only mean working out and exercising, it also means eating well and being healthy from the inside. We must provide our body with what it needs so that it can fight all the diseases and keep us safe. Here’s what you can do to unlock nutrition:

The Mystery Behind Food Labels

Have you wondered why your blood sugar and blood pressure spike even though you’ve been eating only ‘healthy home food’ throughout the quarantine? 

Well, your home food is not 100% homemade, is it? And the possibility of you eating ONLY home food is really low. You could blame the pack of bread, ketchup, jam, snacks and sometimes even packed masalas for the fluctuations in your sugar and blood pressure levels. 

No matter what the manufacturers claim, there are hidden harmful ingredients in packaged foods. Have you ever thought how foods that claim to be sugar-free are so delightfully sweet? The reason is sugar substitutes. Manufacturers use sugar substitutes like xylitol and maltitol to get the sweet taste, that are as bad as sugar since they are chemicals. Companies get away with this little cheat-trick, since they are not using real sugar, they can call their product sugar-free and bluff us.  

To keep yourself from falling for these traps, it is important that you learn to read the labels. Here’s what you can do:

  • For the starters, ignore the claims on the front of the packaging completely, as they are just a strategic move to attract buyers.
  • Next, study the ingredient list. Note that the ingredients are listed in chronological order of highest to the lowest amount of the particular ingredient. Basically, the ingredient that is listed first is the most used. Therefore, if the first ingredient includes refined grains, any type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can safely assume that the product is not as healthy as you want it to be. 
  • Watch out for misleading claims like multigrain, natural, gluten-free, organic, low-carb, low-fat, etc.  Multigrain sounds healthy but it also means the product contains more than one type of grain, including refined grains, unless it is marked as whole grain. 
  • When a product claims to be natural, it doesn’t have to mean that the product is purely natural. It simply means that at one point, the manufacturer used a natural source. 
  • Most importantly, stay away from the claims that say gluten-free as they may not contain wheat, barley, or rye but these are usually highly processed and contain a high amount of fats and sugar. Similarly, low-fat and low-carb foods are extremely processed. 

The 2 Ws and 1H Of Food

To answer what to eat, we’d suggest a well-balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, animal proteins, and healthy fats. Also, keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other healthy beverages like fruit juice, buttermilk, etc.   

The way you cook your food plays a role in your diet plan as well. Avoid deep-fried and oily foods as much as you can as there are a number of health issues related to it, including stomach-aches, obesity, risk of heart diseases, etc. Avoid greasy foods with these cooking hacks instead. Here’s what you can do:

  • Oven fry: This is basically baking food at a very high temperature, allowing it to get crisp with using little or no oil. 
  • Steaming: It uses the steam from hot water to cook the food. This method requires no oil at all. The steaming method is used to cook a number of tasty, authentic Indian dishes.
  • Grilling: It requires a minimal amount of oil and is ideal for cooking meat. 

Apart from the how and what, when you eat is also important. 

  • You must have your breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. 
  • Should have a 3 hours gap between dinner and bedtime as eating close to bedtime can interfere with your sleep quality. 
  • If you are into fitness training, you should know that you must never workout on an empty stomach or have a heavy meal right before working out. 

Just Snack It

You tend to get bored sitting at home all day and the best remedy to get rid of boredom is Netflix and chill. However, when you’re watching a movie or binging a show, you also binge eat your favorite snacks, and there are times when you binge your favorite snacks just like that. However, to stay healthy it is important to get rid of binging unhealthy packaged foods and snacking smart. 

Here’s what you can do: 

Instead of eating a bag full of chips, or a large candy bar, snack on nuts and dry fruits like walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashew, etc or munch on seeds like flaxseeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. If you want a more filling snack, you can always opt for fresh fruits.

These were just a few tips for you to unlock nutrition and stay healthy. You must make your health your priority right now. Eat well, stick to a schedule, do not skip meals and exercise. The time is difficult, but we will get through this. 

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