I know how you feel. I have young children and elderly parents that I want to make sure are safe. And It’s a very stressful time on every level right now, especially for parents. We want our children to stay safe and it’s hard to explain what is happening without increasing anxieties. I’ve outlined my top tips for boosting your immunity and staying healthy during COVID-19.
I am here for you as you need to provide any education and support I can.
IMPORTANT: All appointments will move to virtual from now until we can safely meet again in person; this will be based on recommendations from the Ontario Health Minister.
BOOSTING IMMUNITY: TOP FOODS TO STAY HEALTHY
It may feel like you need to be eating the best quality acai berry juice right now or use fancy supplements to boost or hack your immune system or that of your kids. You really can’t temporarily boost your immune system; it is a complex two-layered part of our physiology that requires ongoing care to stay in top shape!
The top habits that will affect your immune system RIGHT NOW are:
- Get adequate and good sleep
- Eat as many colourful whole foods as you have access too; aim to make this the majority of your diet, any amount is better than none.
- Take your Vitamin D drops daily and give them to your kids; most adults require between 1000 to 2000 units daily, kids 600 to 800 I.U.
- Stay hydrated; this can mean drinking fluids such as water, herbal teas, teas, milks and soups at a volume that creates straw-coloured urine. Young children should focus on nutrient-dense fluids like milks and soups, as opposed to sugar-sweetened beverages
WHOLE FOODS TO FOCUS ON:
You do not need to stress about getting specific foods into your diet right now, any whole food that you can manage to get and prepare is great. Pantry items such as rice and canned beans, with some dried spices and a little olive oil is an extremely cheap, nutritious meal you can make in bulk to keep you fed for a few days (can also be frozen).
Some other great foods to grab or eat if you have them, specifically nutritious for families:
Frozen edamame or green peas:
Excellent source of vitamins A and E and C, great fibre to keep your gut bacteria happy and healthy and packed with protein (14 grams per cup)
Yup, these carb-heavy dynamites are packed with much needed vitamin C, resistant starch which is a type of fibre that feeds your bacteria, and lots of important energy. You can make them for every meal if needed, shredded and fried, roasted, boiled into salad and yes, even homemade French fries count as vegetables!
Any kind of canned beans are beneficial: Chickpeas, black beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, Romano beans are all excellent sources of fibre and protein. You can eat them right out for the can if needed, add salad dressing or of course heat up and serve with rice. Rice and beans are a meal that keeps billions of people across the world nourished, even at a basic level.
This often-vilified food has a ton of nutrition, energy and can be used many ways. In Canada, vitamin fortification programs allow for pasta to be a great source of iron, b-vitamins, and resistant starch (great for your gut bacteria! Just cook al dente). There are endless variations of pasta dishes, from spaghetti and sauce, to cold pesto pasta salad to pasta bakes. Its not a food most kids get sick of either 😊
Dried herbs and spices are excellent sources of antioxidants, last for 6 months and add ton of flavour. You can change an ingredient instantly by adding some spices (e.g. try paprika in your egg muffins, then try garam masala in your scramble, two different worlds). If you run out of garlic fresh or chopped, dried garlic and onion powder add punch to everything.
Frozen fruit and other vegetables:
These are high in nutrients and can easily be used in smoothies and stir-fry, sauces or rice or pasta dishes. Frozen blueberries and broccoli are my top picks, but mango and frozen spinach are also up there. No prep just heats or add to any food cooking and voila you have “boosted” any recipe you are making.
HOW TO NOT STRESS EAT:
It’s a tough situation; being isolated and quarantined can mean frequent trips to the kitchen, even when you are not hungry. I encourage you to spend as much time as possible OUT OF VIEW of your kitchen.
If you are shopping for food, I encourage you not to buy the foods that trigger you; steer clear of the chips, ice cream and candy aisles if it’s hard for you to control your intake. Truthfully, they can fit into a normal diet pattern of course, but this is not a normal time! If you are okay with having those foods in your house, small amounts can be therapeutic. If your diet shifts towards eating a lot of those foods, this is not a good thing for your immunity.
HAVE LESS OF:
- Added Sugars: pop, fruit drinks, candies, high-sugar foods and desserts
- Low-fibre foods: white, highly processed foods that often come with unhealthy fats and sugars
(fried frozen meals and foods, processed meat products, pre-made convenience foods and snacks)
Eat at regular times, set an alarm or eat by the clock, so your BODY is telling you when you are hungry and full, not your mind.
Find other things that help you relax, such as exercise, knitting, crochet, scrap booking, writing, journaling, talking to friends remotely, playing with pets and kids, dancing, laughing, yoga, using apps that are helpful or getting any help you need. People want to help you; you just need to ask.
CRISIS BRINGS US CLOSER:
Lastly, if this is the first time your family will be eating a lot of meals together due to quarantine and school cancellations, USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! Remember, cooking is a life skill, and in times like this that is never clearer. People who can cook and prepare their own food have a clear advantage.
Use this as an opportunity to have quality time and educational moments through food with your kids. Create any meal they want to be involved in making, choose snacks that interest them, and ask them to wash their hands and dig in. It IS quality time when you are cooking with your family, so don’t stress about not having curriculum for your kids; basic life skill preparation is a lot more important.
I realize this is simple advice, but I hope it is helpful. These times are unpredictable, so as much as you can, keep to schedules and routines through this crisis.
Stay kind and compassionate in your interactions, take deep breaths and know we will get through this…TOGETHER.