Foods to include as part of a healthy diet to help your body ease into “the new normal”, as it transitions from idle to active again post-lockdown.
From Dalgona coffee (a fluffy mix that includes instant coffee powder, sugar, water and cold milk) to sourdough bread and frying pan pizza, several food trends have emerged on social media over the last few months. Slurps! The more relaxed and sedentary lifestyle enjoyed during the lockdown has given individuals time to try out these different comfort food recipes that are more suited to inactive lifestyles. In light of the lockdown regulations being revised to allow businesses to resume operations and individuals to gradually return to work, here are a few healthy food options which can help you kick start and rejuvenate your body again for the “the new normal”. Buckle up, because it’s all systems go again, baby!
A Juicy Way to Amp Up Your Health
According to a recent study conducted by Nielsen across 11 Asian markets, the food landscape in Asia after COVID-19 has rapidly transformed. Say what?! Yup, it has moved from one that embraces eating experiences, online delivery and on-the-go food and beverage consumption, to purchase of fresh goods for in-home dining instead. This coincides with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of consuming a minimum of 400g (or 5 portions) of fruits and vegetables daily. In other words, a step in the right direction, Asians!
These may include citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. Citrus fruits are primarily responsible for supplementing your body with vitamin C which can strengthen your immune system and maintain the elasticity and smoothness of your skin. It is also a good source of fibre and can aid in reducing your risk of suffering kidney stones. In addition to that, several studies have also shown that consumption of citrus fruits can also reduce your risk of several types of cancer including lung, oesophageal, stomach, breast and pancreatic cancer. No time like the present to stock up on these zesty treats, guys!
The Greens Are Healthier on The Leafy Side
Leafy greens, on the other hand, are not just a tasty addition to a healthy diet but can supplement your body with a distinct set of nutrients which can give your body an energy boost. This is mainly attributed to its iron content which promotes the production of red blood cells for efficient delivery of oxygen to your cells, thus preventing fatigue. Green is the name, healthy goodness is the game!
Best prepared as a steamed, stir-fried or slightly wilted dish, leafy greens not only taste great but are also a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, C, E and K. Consuming leafy greens is especially beneficial for pregnant women or women who intend to conceive as they contain folic acid which is essential for early foetal development. Mama certainly was onto something when she told you to eat your greens, wasn’t she?
Going Nuts About Nuts
One of the biggest takeaways of staying within the confines of your own homes during the lockdown is that “getting it done” does not necessarily mean you need to spend long hours at the office anymore. Yes. You can find better balance between work and your personal life so long as each task is completed diligently. And while the current lockdown conditions may no longer mean that you get to still enjoy the comforts of home while working, it could mean that your work responsibilities begin to take a physical and mental toll on your body. Whoa! Therefore, it is important to supplement your body with an adequate intake of energy-boosting snacks while you work, such as nuts. No, we’re not “nuts” for saying this, but feel free to dive deeper with us and decide for yourself, yeah?
Snacking on walnuts while you work can provide your body with an abundant source of protein, carbs and healthy fats throughout the day, apart from being an antioxidant powerhouse. These antioxidants, which include polyphenols, can reduce oxidative stress through a neutralisation of free radicals that cause cell damage and increase your risk of disease. Nuts, be it whole or in the form of a nut butter, are also especially effective in regulating your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. For instance, eating a handful of almonds or a spoonful of peanut butter on toast can aid in increasing your “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels and lowering your “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels. Apart from that, nuts are also known to be a healthy source of fibre which can improve your gut health and reduce your risk of diabetes and obesity. Not so “The Nutty Professor” in your eyes now, are we?
Fish Containing Healthy Fats for a Lean, Mean, Well-Oiled Machine
While it is important to sustain energy levels throughout the day (especially since your idle body may need some time to readjust to the regular physical and mental demands of life after the lockdown), it is equally essential to also supplement it with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, a healthy, balanced diet should include a minimum of two 140g-fish portions a week, with one portion being fatty fish. For instance, fishes such as salmon, sardines or mackerel, or shellfish such as prawns, squid and scallops, which can be grilled, or cooked as a curry or sambal. Have we got you drooling already?
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can aid in reducing your risk of heart disease and is also important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as it can promote healthy development of an infant’s nervous system. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce inflammation in your body which is a common cause of fatigue. Similarly, fatty fish also contains vitamin B12, which combines with folic acid to produce red blood cells in the body, promoting better iron efficiency that contributes to an improvement in energy levels. Surf and turf, anyone?
Unrefined, Yet Completely Wholesome
Made to last, unrefined whole grains such as quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain rice and pasta not only have a long shelf life but are easy to prepare as well2. Whole grain rice is best eaten with cooked dishes, while whole grain pasta is best accompanied by a sauce of your preference. Quinoa can be eaten as part of a salad or as an accompaniment to a protein of your choice. Oatmeal, on the other hand, is best prepared using water or milk and best served with fruits, nuts, raisins, honey or a combination of all four together. Yummy!
Consuming these whole grains can not only provide your body with a healthy source of nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc, iron, magnesium and manganese but can also lower your risk of several chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes7. Whole grain consumption can lower your risk of obesity by preventing overeating and can also support healthy digestion by adding bulk to your stools and lowering your risk of constipation7. Who knew something so unrefined could be so good for your body, ay?
Energy-boosting foods are in abundance especially when the CMCO regulations have been eased and individuals gradually make their way back to work. These include foods which provide a readily available source of energy such as carbs and foods which provide a slow release of energy but an increase in power and stamina such as fibre and protein. And if you feel ready to kick start your body for “the new normal”, then incorporating these foods as part of a healthy diet is certainly a step in the right direction. Stay healthy and safe, folks!