The news is currently overwhelmed with stories of empty supermarket shelves and people stocking up in preparation for the 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Dietitians Claire McHugh and Kerryn Wuth from Nutrition innovated, a private practice based in Ballito and Umhlanga, recommend only keeping two weeks of food in the house – and the right type of food at that.  “Our main concern as a practice is that people are going to be increasing their intake of more processed foods and reducing their intake of fresh foods. This will contribute towards a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infections,” says Claire.

Try out their ten tips to optimising your immune health through balanced and nutritionally adequate meals:

  1. Maintain your normal routine of meals and snacks. Eat according to the clock. Avoid graze and emotional related eating during the day due to boredom and uncertainty. This is a particularly important discipline for children.
  2. Include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, where possible, basing your meals around plants. Both fruits and vegetables provide valuable nutrients that contribute towards enhanced immune functioning. Frozen vegetables are also good options and healthier than canned vegetables.
  3. Use fresh vegetables as the base to cook meals in large quantities and freeze portions for a single meal. For example; soups, casseroles, stews, curries.
  4. Freeze fresh fruit like berries, mango and bananas to add to smoothies, overnight oats and desserts. Liquidise and freeze fresh fruit as ice lollies for snacks.
  5. Certain fruit, salad and root vegetables, if stored correctly, have a long shelf life. These include oranges, apples, carrots, butternut, peppers, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes and cabbage. They can be used to make delicious slaws, salads and side dishes.
  6. Make your own pickles from onions, cucumber or peppers using a vinegar. These are preferable to store bought ones as you can control the sugar and salt content.
  7. Ensure you have a supply of dry staples and grains to provide energy as well as valuable nutrients like fibre and B vitamins, for example; wild rice, brown rice, lentils, beans, pulses, quinoa, barley, popcorn, rolled oats, wholewheat pasta, wholewheat couscous and rice cakes.
  8. Keep packets of flours at home as well as instant yeast. Opt for wholegrain flours like, brown wheat, chickpea, gluten free and brown bread flour. With a number of simple bread recipes available online, you can hone your baking skills and keep yourself busy baking during lockdown. Avoid the more refined flours like white rice and tapioca flours. Alternatively you can add psyllium husk to these to improve their fibre content.
  9. Stock up on nuts and seeds. They store well and are an important part of your daily diet as they provide co-factors for anti-oxidant enzymes like zinc, selenium and magnesium. Use these as snacks or add them to smoothies, smoothie bowls and salads.
  10. Protein is important to consider for our immune cell functioning. Depending on whether you follow a mixed diet or vegan diet here are some ideas to use; dairy milk, soya milk, eggs, tinned fish in brine, nut butters, cheese, nuts, edamame beans, frozen fresh meats (fish, ostrich, beef, pork, chicken), tofu, tempeh, biltong, cottage cheese and nutritional yeast.

Try avoid:

  • Relying on canned foods
  • Microwave meals
  • Packet sauces
  • Packet snacks such as chips, biscuits, crackers
  • Box cereals that are high in sugar
  • Processed meats such as viennas, sausages, polony, fish fingers, chicken nuggets, sandwich ham.
  • Chemical additives found in most boxed and jarred foods, for example; preservatives, colourants, enhancers and flavourants.

Support our small, local businesses and restaurants:

Buy frozen juices, soups and broths from places like the Juice Kitchen, Naked Bones, We Are Food or Home Grown. Ray’s Kitchen, Roots café, Kauai, Leaf, Delish Sisters and other local restaurants are offering fresh and frozen meals as take-aways. These providers all use fresh ingredients as opposed to refined and processed ingredients like other larger franchise take away providers. Get ideas for meals from talents like Salt Free Saffa.