Eat healthy to be healthy

Daniel Lim

The pandemic has affected daily life with some of the effects of the enhanced restriction more on the well-being of individuals, especially deterioration of physical and mental health conditions.

Certified health coach Preety Tyagi from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York discusses how to stay fit, both mentally and physically during the pandemic to help alleviate some of the struggles and challenges.

She highlighted the importance of keeping the mind and body healthy as working from home with limited outdoor activities could contribute to stress levels rising. “Staying fit and healthy is always important but has gained more importance these days due to the COVID restrictions.”

Tyagi also noted that over eating can contribute to an increase in stress levels. “Over eating during these difficult times is something that’s troubling almost everyone. Being at home all day long makes a person turn towards the refrigerator and the kitchen a bit too often.”

She shared some tips on how not to give in to temptation as limited physical activity can have adverse effects on the body, weight and overall health.

“Monitor your eating schedule. I always emphasise on maintaining a food log or food journal, and keep track of the time of food intake and what was eaten. Also, mention the number of glasses of water consumed.”

Noting that this may sound very methodical and a bit tedious, she said it is doable during wider restriction as it serves as a powerful tool to connect the brain with physical and emotional hunger.

Tyagi said boredom resulting from health measures can turn people towards food for comfort too often, and as such, a food journal can help discern the difference between boredom or real hunger.

She also mentioned consuming various fibrous fruits and vegetables to keep full and energised for longer periods.

“These foods are excellent for a healthy gut and high fibre foods are generally high in vitamins and minerals, providing a balance of essential vitamins.”

Another tip Tyagi shared aimed at increasing the immune system by eating healthy and nutritious food. “Foods with high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc as well as daily supplements to boost immunity are also important.”

She said since outdoor activities are minimal these days, consuming Vitamin D and Vitamin B complex supplements is essential.

“In addition, you can keep your brain and heart healthy by including foods rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids. These can be found in fatty fish, nuts and seeds. You can consider Omega 3 supplements as well.”

She also noted that supplementation must be given especially to senior citizens and children to boost their immune system and keep them safe from the virus and other diseases.

She said people should consume healthy snacks such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, coconut flakes, fresh coconut and coconut water.

The snacks, she said, are “full of essential components as well as are good sources of healthy fats”.

The healthy snacks can help keep you full while keeping cravings under control longer.

She added that, “It is best to avoid oily, deep fried foods, unhygienically cooked food from outside, food with added preservatives and food colouring, especially now as any illness should be avoided at the moment and not just coronavirus.

“Keep healthy snacks handy. It’s important to munch on something that provides nourishment as well as satisfaction that will help ensure that you don’t feel hungry”.

Tyagi stressed on drinking plenty of water. “Water is essential to keep hydrated and satisfied both physically and mentally.”

In addition, she said when our bodies are thirsty, the hormones may trick us into believing that we are hungry, leading to overeating or binge eating.

“Hence, it’s important to rule out the possibility of thirst over hunger before consuming extra calories.

“Every time you feel like eating a snack in between meals, drink a glass of water. Give your mind and body two minutes to realise. If you feel hungry still, then grab a healthy snack. Otherwise, give it a pass.”

She also highlighted on the importance of a daily physical workout while observing the current standard of procedures, rules and regulations.

“Having a sedentary lifestyle not only poses a threat of weight gain but also heart and lifestyle diseases.”

Tyagi noted that physical activity is essential in releasing endorphins to make one feel better resulting in better mental well-being.

“Physical exercise can help release certain hormones and essential brain enzymes responsible for bringing the mind to a state of happiness. Hence, a physical workout, even at home, will help people remain fit both physically and mentally.”

She also shared that people of all ages should stay connected remotely with friends, family and office colleagues.

“Call them, ask about their well-being, support each other and lend a helping hand to those in need.”