WHO/Europe has published a new guide on how to eat healthily during the COVID-19 self-quarantine. It contains valuable information about nutrition to help keep the immune system strong. It also has tips for a diet that supports good health while many of us are advised to stay at home and may have less opportunities to consume fresh foods and be physically active.
Even with scarce ingredients, one can continue to eat a healthy diet. In order to support individuals and families in eating healthily during self-quarantine and isolation, the WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) has developed a set of general tips, a list of “best food buys”, and a few examples of recipes for inspiration.
Today, while governments are taking stronger measures to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are being temporarily closed, and newswires are full of information about the disease. In some countries, restaurants and take-away offers are being limited and some items in supermarkets are becoming less available.
Limited access to fresh foods may lead to an increased consumption of highly processed foods, which tend to be high in fats, sugars and salt. Such changes in eating behaviour could have a negative effect on the immune system, overall physical and mental health, and the well-being of individuals globally.
The newly published WHO/Europe nutrition guidance explains how to be strategic while buying and using ingredients, and how to follow safe food handling practices and limit salt, sugar and fat intake. The publication also includes a list of food items, including canned products, with high nutritional value which are generally affordable, accessible and have a long shelf-life.
In addition, WHO/Europe’s experts have collaborated with Portuguese chef Nuno Queiroz Ribeiro to include three recipes, with recommended ingredients, that are easy to cook at home.
Nutrition is not the only factor essential for staying healthy during self-quarantine. For optimal health, it is also important to remain physically active. To support people in staying physically active while at home, WHO/Europe has developed specific guidance for periods of quarantine, including tips and examples of home-based exercises.