The Covid-19 pandemic caused chaos throughout the world but one thing this pandemic taught us was the importance of adopting healthy eating habits, which not only nourishes the body but also ensure long-term wellness. The coronavirus pandemic has heightened our awareness of the food we consume and has instilled in us all the habits of prioritizing a healthy diet over junk food and pushed us toward a healthier lifestyle.

Many people continue to experience post-Covid-19 symptoms such as fatigue, breathing problems, muscle aches, difficulty breathing and blurry memory even after testing negative. Since recovery rates vary from person to person, it is critical to stick to a nutritious diet routine.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Kanikka Malhotra, Consultant Dietician, advised, “One of the quickest ways to recover quickly is to make wise food choices. The road to full recovery from Covid-19 is long and arduous. Aside from sleep and rest, eating healthy is now essential for healing. Good nutrition allows your wrecked body to rebuild its energy levels as quickly as possible. Since the body and mind are both highly susceptible and unable to strive over three large elaborate meals, it is recommended that easy-to-digest food be consumed in frequent and small amounts. Food should be easy to chew and swallow. It is best to eat foods that do not upset the intestinal tract or any other part of the body.”

She suggested some healthy eating tips that will help you sustain the post-Covid phase:

1. Fill up on proteins - Proteins help reverse tissue damage and stimulate the production of T-cells, which are agents that promote healthy immune functioning. Proteins are the most important macronutrient for rebuilding and recharging the body; vitamins boost immunity; and probiotics help the gut bacteria recover from antibiotic and steroid treatments. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to include pulses, legumes, eggs, meat, fish, chicken, and dairy products in the diet.

2. Choose your carbs wisely - We should nourish our bodies well for at least six months after Covid treatment. High-fibre cereals and pulses such as jawar, bajra, ragi, brown rice, oatmeal, millets, and quinoa take longer to digest than simple carbs (refined grains such as maida, which are commonly found in bread) and thus keep blood sugar levels stable.

3. Choose healthy fats - Although fats have a bad reputation, they do contribute to the proper functioning of hormones and provide about 15-20% of the body's daily nutrition. Avocado, nuts, ghee, and olive oil are all recommended.

4. Snack right - Choose the right snacks in between your meals and avoid snaccidents. Figs and dates, a spoonful of pumpkin, chia or flax seeds, boiled peanuts or chickpeas, a fistful of nuts (including almonds and walnuts), sweet potato chaat, or seasonal fruits are some options you can choose from.

5. Your kitchen is your pharmacy - Our Indian kitchens are brimming with anti-inflammatory and anti-viral ingredients like ginger, turmeric, garlic, cumin, coriander, mint, cinnamon, and honey, which are common and can be used in various combinations and items for overall well-being. A simple brew of coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds (saunf) or lemon and barley water is beneficial to one's overall health.

6. Go-pro with probiotics - Probiotics can help boost the immune system. Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that aid the gut and intestinal tract in fighting disease-causing germs. Probiotics are found in yogurt, kefir, pickles, kimchi, and kombucha. Probiotics help good bacteria grow and are stored in the gut. These beneficial bacteria aid in digestion, immunity, and metabolism.

7. Zip the immunity with zinc - Adequate zinc is essential for immune system boosting, development, and function. Zinc-rich foods include lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grains, beans, pumpkin seeds, and nuts.

8. Say ‘yes’ to selenium - Eggs contain selenium, a potent antioxidant that is essential for cell health and will also ease long covid symptoms such as hair loss. Chicken breast, seafood, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, grains, and dairy products are also good sources.

9. Stay high on hydration - Dehydration, if left unchecked, can make anyone miserable, especially people who are experiencing long-haul Covid. Drink plenty of water and include low-salt lassi, coconut water, butter milk with a dash of cumin and mint, chaach and fresh vegetable juices (no sugar added), bael ka sharbat (high in fibre), and soup made with chicken or vegetable both.

According to Neelam Chauhan, a dietician of the NIIMS Department of Dietetics, the Covid-19 outbreak is still causing havoc in families all over the world where many parents are finding themselves stranded at home for the majority of the day while managing childcare, full-time employment and other conflicting duties as schools and childcare facilities close. She said, "Another daily issue can be deciding "what's for dinner?" Panic buying and systemic disturbances in the food supply makes matters much more difficult because particular goods can suddenly be impossible to find."

She added, “For many people, the cost of buying food is becoming more difficult due to unemployment and decreased income. There are quick, inexpensive, and healthful alternatives to ready meals and processed foods, which many parents understandably turn to for their families' daily meals.” She listed five suggestions for giving your kids a balanced diet that will promote their growth and development and encourage good eating habits:

1. Continue eating fruits and vegetables - Fresh vegetable shopping, storage, and preparation during a lockdown might be difficult, especially if parents are instructed to restrict their children's travel. However, it's crucial to make sure kids continue to include a lot of fruits and vegetables in their diet wherever possible.

Get fresh food whenever it is possible to do so. Wherever possible, fruits and vegetables can also be frozen and will still preserve the majority of their nutrients and flavour. Fresh vegetables will keep longer and provide meals for a few days if they are used to prepare large quantities of soups, stews, or other dishes. When possible, these can also be frozen and then quickly reheated.

2. In place of fresh produce, substitute healthily dried or canned options - While many healthful options are convenient to keep and prepare, fresh food is almost always the best choice. It is possible to store canned beans and chickpeas for months or even years and use them in a variety of ways in meals. They offer a wealth of nutrients. Salmon, mackerel, and other oily fish in cans are full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals. These can be prepared as part of a warm dinner or used cold in sandwiches, salads, or pasta dishes.

Even though canned veggies, like tomatoes, tend to have lesser nutrient contents than fresh produce, they are still a fantastic alternative when fresh or frozen vegetables are difficult to get. In addition to being wholesome, long-lasting, tasty, inexpensive, and full, dried foods including dry beans, pulses, and grains like lentils, split peas, rice, couscous, or quinoa are also available.

3. Amass a supply of wholesome snacks - Children frequently require a snack or two throughout the day to keep them energised. Give youngsters healthier options like almonds, cheese, yoghurt (ideally unsweetened), chopped or dried fruits, boiled eggs, or other readily available nutritious options rather than sugary or salty snacks. These meals are more satisfying, and nutritious, and support the development of lifelong healthy eating habits.

4. Avoid overly processed foods - Even if it might not always be practical, try to cut back on the quantity of highly processed goods in your shopping cart. Prepared meals, packaged snacks, and desserts frequently contain large amounts of salt, sugar, and saturated fat. If you do buy processed food, read the label carefully and try to choose a healthy choice with fewer of these additives. Try to limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and stick to water. Water can be enhanced in flavour by adding fruits or vegetables like lemon, lime, cucumber slices or berries.

5. Include eating and cooking in your family's routine in a fun and meaningful way - An enjoyable method to establish healthy routines, improve family ties, and have fun is to cook and dine together. Include your kids in food preparation whenever you can. Younger kids can help with washing or sorting food, while older kids can take on more difficult tasks and assist with setting the table.

Stick as closely as you can to regular mealtimes as a family. These routines and patterns can aid in lowering children's anxiety during these trying times. Though it will take some time for us to adopt these healthier and more beneficial eating habits, it is never too late to start. We have plenty of healthier alternatives on the market and should use them without hesitation. Nobody knows what lies ahead but prevention is always better than cure.

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