An enlightened man once said: man is a creature of habit.
The same is true when it comes to our dietary practices—ever notice that we tend to buy the same food and drink items every time we do the groceries? How about the fact we tend to eat at the usual restaurants? What about your choice of drink to start the day? Is it coffee or tea?
These are some of the dietary habits we have learned to inculcate in our daily lives.
The thing is, disruptions to our routines are to be expected every now and then, leading to a change in our habits. Life happens.
And whenever it does, chances are likely that we aren’t 100% ready to adapt to such changes. These changes might involve traveling somewhere for a couple of weeks, being sidelined with an injury for a period of time, or by being stuck at home for extended periods due to natural disasters, weather disturbances, pandemic situations, or other acts of God, so to speak, for instance.
Nevertheless, nutrition—and therefore your food choices—all play an essential role in maintaining our overall health and well-being.
A period of adjustment is to be expected during unprecedented times like these. But the steps are actually easier than what we’re led to believe nowadays. Nevertheless, whether you’re a nutrition buff or a novice, these 3 diet tips will help you get started with a better-balanced diet even in the midst of a lockdown.
Tip #1: Load up on frozen produce
The results are unanimous: fruits and vegetables are synonymous with a healthy diet. Increased consumption of fruits and veggies may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease as supported by evidence, which is all the more reason you should up your intake of both.
Granted, not all of us have the luxury of being able to regularly buy fresh produce, especially in a time of lockdowns such as this.
Well, frozen fruits and vegetables are the next best thing to fresh.
And contrary to myth, there aren’t many differences between the nutritional profiles of fresh and frozen produce. In fact, there are some nutrients that are found in higher concentrations in frozen produce rather than fresh. So if you buy bulk, or don’t have access to fresh produce all the time, frozen is your next best bet to continue getting the necessary servings of fruits and veg for better overall health.
Tip #2: Opt for nonperishable, nutrition-packed food products
It’s true—whole foods that are rich in nutrients are more likely to be perishable than their highly processed, nutritionally lightweight counterparts.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of options for food products nutritionally dense that also enjoy great longevity in storage, apart from being easy as pie to prepare.
One of these options includes lentils, which are a great plant-based source of protein inherently dense with nutrients and long shelf life. As a bonus, lentils are packed with testosterone and male-enhancing zinc, magnesium, and potassium, as well as a variety of B vitamins and iron. There are a variety of ways lentils can be prepared ranging from simple preparations to lentil stews. They’re available canned, cooked, or dried, all of which make them easy to keep for extended periods. Some excellent lentil options you should consider incorporating into your lockdown diet include chickpeas (garbanzos), black beans, peas, and soybeans.
Squash is yet another excellent option loaded with essential vitamins and minerals and keeps well for a few months even just left on its own devices on your kitchen table. Squash is rich in B vitamins like B5 and B6, vitamin A, folate, and potassium—not to mention delicious when eaten roasted or grilled. Sample the wide variety of squash, such as pumpkins, butternut squash, or acorn squash. Squash is also inexpensive when purchased in bulk.
Need protein? There are more long-lasting protein sources than you can shake a stick at. Whey protein powder is an affordable and versatile protein source that lasts longer when stored properly, apart from being drastically cheaper than other forms of protein when measured pound for pound.
Eggs are another cost-effective, reasonably long-lasting protein that keeps well (around 5 weeks) in storage and loaded with protein and nutrients. Ground beef can be purchased in bulk and can be frozen and kept indefinitely, and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Last, but not least, nuts like pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts are great snack food items you can swap your Doritos with. They’re tasty, nutrient-dense, and keep indefinitely.
Tip #3: Plan, execute, and stick to a meal plan
One of the most underrated devices to ensure you maintain a well-balanced diet even when staying for drawn-out periods at home is to devise a meal plan and stick to it. Meal plans enable you to save money on groceries and time by preparing it mostly in one day. It’s also a great way to extend the use of commonly-used long-lasting foodstuff such as frozen meat and produce, as they can be used in various preparations.
For instance, lentils can be prepared as a soup for one meal and then as an appetizer for the next. You can prepare a hearty lentil stew for tomorrow’s lunch and then use the same lentils to prepare a light soup with them for dinner.
The same can be done with ground beef, chicken, or canned fish. Waste not, want not. Meal planning reduces waste and your overall expenditure on food.
Conclusion: lockdowns can be healthy for you
Don’t fear the uncertainties brought on by living in a state of constant lockdowns and disruptions to movement. It’s the new normal, and the sooner we come to grips with living in unprecedented times, the faster we’ll adapt. The same can be said for your nutrition plan. Extended stays at home make grocery shopping harder than it has to be, and in doing so, sticking to a balanced diet—but it isn’t a pipe dream.
Buy frozen, buy nutrient-dense and non-perishable, and plan your meals—it’s amazing what you can save and what you can do for your body when you’re efficient with your consumption.