Stop the eating frenzy!

Nurullatifah Fauzan

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 ― When there isn’t much to do at home during the Movement Control Order (MCO), opening the fridge door every few minutes has become a habit!

Apparently, eating is an easy option whenever boredom sets in. Instant noodles and canned food are the first to clear on supermarket shelves which implies that when confined, people think this is all there is.

On the contrary, even when isolated, we can still eat healthy. It’s just a matter of changing your mindset and making the right choices.

And with Covid-19 running amok in Malaysia currently, the least we can do is to consume the right foods to keep ourselves healthy.

Here are some suggestions on how to eat healthy during this challenging period.

Schedule your mealtimes

Do not spend time munching out of boredom. Small frequent meals help to control appetite and hunger. Suggested mealtimes:

Breakfast                7am–8am

Morning snack       10am

Lunch                     12pm–1pm

Tea time                 4pm–5pm

Dinner                    7pm–8.30pm 

If you feel hungry frequently, try drinking plain water first and eat small portions but frequently. Do not skip meals.

When you eat, choose high fibre and light protein snacks because they take some time to digest which helps you feel fuller for a longer time.

For example, low-fat milk, a piece of fruit, one palm-sized amount of plain nuts, low-fat yogurt and tuna sandwich.

Quarter-quarter-half

Always practise the quarter-quarter-half concept when it comes to main meals. Ensure that half of your plate is filled with vegetables and one fruit.

This helps increase your fibre intake so you feel fuller on low-calorie foods. Use the following healthy plate as reference:-

Avoid processed foods

Processed foods such as canned food and instant noodles contain high sodium and preservatives.

Some of its content can be high in calories, sugar and fat.

Relying on these foods for a long period of time is not advisable. This can cause weight gain and subsequently non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Boost your immune system

This is a time that demands a strong immune system. Strengthen it with foods that are high in vitamins and antioxidants.

The more colourful the food (natural colour), the more variety of vitamins and antioxidants you get.

For example, carrots, green cabbage, purple cabbage, any green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, yellow/green/red bell peppers, eggplants, cucumber, tomatoes and fruits of all variety.

Some vegetables can be kept for a long time while some must be cooked within one or two days.

Frozen vegetables such as broccoli and mixed vegetables, as well as fruits that are available in supermarkets have the same nutritional value as the fresh ones.

If you are worried about shelf life, you can always opt for frozen fruits and vegetables while maintaining its nutritional value. 

Distract yourself from eating

Exercise at home or plan new indoor activities with the family. Make this an enjoyable time for everyone in order to avoid unnecessary eating.

Now there is even technology to bond with friends and families. It would also be a good idea to not surf for pictures of food!

* Nurullatifah Fauzan is the dietitian at Columbia Asia Hospital, Petaling Jaya.