01 May 2020 by Matt Lambert World Cancer Research Fund nutritionist
With most of us spending a lot of time at home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and potentially with more time on our hands, it’s now even more important to eat well and continue to keep active to help keep us in good health.
What is a healthy diet?
Having more time at home can give us time to think about our own nutrition. For a healthy balanced diet aim to:
- Eat a variety of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta and bread – choose higher fibre wholegrain versions such as wholewheat pasta and wholemeal bread.
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives such as soya drinks.
- Eat some protein-containing foods such as pulses (beans, peas and lentils), fish, lean meat, eggs, soya and Quorn.
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts.
- Eat foods high in fat, sugar and salt less often and in small amounts.
Keeping ourselves hydrated is also a fundamental part of good nutrition. It is recommended we consume at least six to eight glasses of fluid a day – this can include water, low-fat milk, sugar-free drinks, and tea and coffee. It’s best to limit juices and smoothies to 150ml a day and limit sugary drinks.
Keeping yourself hydrated is really important – aim to take frequent small sips of water (or a no-added-sugar drink) – even before you feel thirsty.
With more time on our hands, it may lead to us snacking more. But it’s important to snack sensibly – both to help manage our weight, but also to help keep ourselves healthy.
But you can make snacks a healthy and valuable part of your daily diet, plus they can help fuel you before a walk.
- Plain popcorn – sprinkle with some chilli powder, smoked paprika or cinnamon for a flavour boost.
- A slice of wholemeal toast with chopped banana and a thin spread of a no added sugar or salt nut butter.
- Granola or oat bar (no added sugar). Try our fruity oat flapjack recipe.
Fruit and vegetable boosting snacks
Protein boosting snacks
- Nuts and seeds – a small handful (around 30g) of unsalted nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews or peanuts) and/or seeds (e.g. sunflower or pumpkin seeds) – sprinkle with paprika for added flavour.
- A tablespoon of crushed nuts on top of low-fat yoghurt (no added sugar).
- Greek yoghurt (no added sugar) topped with fresh fruit.
For more recipe ideas, visit our Real Recipes website
Fuelling your activity
The main fuel for our muscles is carbohydrates; so, making sure you consume sufficient carbohydrates will help keep your energy levels up – vital in supporting you on a long walks near home. When your carbohydrate stores get low, it can cause feelings of fatigue and may lead to you feeling lightheaded.
Before doing any type of activity it’s good to have a carbohydrate-based snack a couple of hours before, for example, a no added sugar yoghurt and a piece of fruit. How much carbohydrate you need will depend upon how long and how hard your activity will be. For example, a long walk near home will require more fuel (and hydration) than a 30-minute walk.
For more information about WCRF, visit our website: wcrf-uk.org
Find out more about how to get involved with our #RoamSweetHome campaign.
Our Coronavirus update page gives the latest official advice on walking safely.