I don’t know about you but even — perhaps especially — as a dietitian, preparing three meals a day, plus snacks (oh, the snacks!) for me and my family while we stay safe at home is a lot.
While the restrictions aren’t as stringent right now, we are encouraged to stay home and safe. So, let’s try to be much better prepared to keep our meals healthy and, most importantly, stress-free. All this without succumbing to the temptation of treats that just add centimetres to your waistline.
The initial lockdown during winter made it tricky to resist comfort foods. This time, we’re enjoying a few warmer autumn days. A healthy braai or a substantial salad with warm elements for a meal are great options for healthy and comforting food.
Be prepared to be healthy
It’s easy to have short, motivated bursts of healthy eating, but being systematic and planning ahead is key to actually sustaining those habits for longer than a week or a month.
Here are some tips:
- Buy tins: You can add canned beans, lentils and chickpeas to most dishes for added protein and fibre. Rinse them before use to remove any excess salt.
- Frozen is good too: While tinned tomatoes without added salt or sugar are a good option for homemade pasta sauces or to use in soups or stews, other tinned vegetables tend to be high in salt. Rather opt for frozen vegetables.
- Stock up: Dried wholegrains, such as brown rice, barley and quinoa cooked in advance can be frozen. Add a healthy protein (I love my air fryer for this), a heap of vegetables, and you’re done!
- Spice it up: Keep a variety of dried herbs and salt-free spices, lemon juice and vinegars in your pantry for adding flavour to meals; garlic and chilli too, if these appeal to your palate. Try your hand at growing a few small pots of herbs — now is the season for basil.
- Think of meals in advance and do prep on weekends: Once you’ve made a plan for the week ahead, do some slicing and dicing on the weekend. Get the family to choose and help prepare meals. Now’s the time to place that online order for delivery, or click and collect.
Let go of the guilt and save on time and effort by opting for healthy convenience foods
We know incentives work, because our members are more likely to buy healthy food when they get rewarded for it. Now, we can ditch the guilt for going with convenience food and forget the pressure to prepare every meal from scratch.
The Vitality nutrition team has applied evidence-based criteria to select healthier convenience meals from the best partners. Vitality now offers frozen meals and meal kits from UCOOK, Frozen for You, Daily Dish and We are Food with discounts of up to 25%.
With HealthyDining meals that can be ordered on UberEats, from our partners: Col’Cacchio, Doppio Zero, Ocean Basket, Nando’s and Mugg & Bean, also with Vitality discounts, there are so many healthy convenience meals.
At times, convenience can be a lifesaver.
The wonderful thing about frozen meals and meal kits is that they are waste-friendly as they only provide the right amount of ingredients you need for a particular healthy meal. And you can expand your palate by trying a single portion of a new, exciting meal without buying large quantities of each individual ingredient.
We know that last-minute food choices are often unhealthy. Cumulatively, these choices can dramatically harm your long-term health and increase your health risk during the pandemic. Combined with a home fitness plan and maintaining your mental health, you’ll be positioned to do the best for you and your family in lockdown alert level 1.
Buy, cook, eat healthy with Vitality. — Terry Harris, Head Dietitian at Vitality