The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is upending life for families around the world. As schools and childcare centres close, many parents are finding themselves stuck at home for most of the day juggling childcare, full-time work and other competing responsibilities. Figuring out “What’s for dinner?” can be yet another daily challenge. 
To make things even harder, panic buying and disruptions to food supply systems mean some foods can now be difficult to find. And for many people, unemployment and lost income are making food shopping an additional financial challenge.
While many parents are understandably looking to ready meals and processed foods as a quick and low-cost way to feed the family, there are convenient, affordable and healthy alternatives. Here are five ways to help feed your children a varied, nutritious diet that will support their growth and development, all while building healthy eating habits. Visit

5 healthy eating tips 

1. Keep up fruit and vegetable intake

Purchasing, storing and cooking fresh vegetables can be challenging in a lockdown, especially when parents are advised to limit trips outside of the home. But wherever possible, it’s important to ensure children are still getting plenty of fruit and vegetables in their diet.

Whenever it is possible to get hold of fresh produce, do so. As well as being eaten fresh, fruits and vegetables can be frozen where possible and will retain most of their nutrients and flavor. Using fresh vegetables to cook large batches of soups, stews or other dishes will make them last longer and provide meal options for a few days. These can also be frozen where possible and then quickly reheated.

2. Swap in healthy dried or canned alternatives when fresh produce is not available

Fresh produce is almost always the best option, but when it is not available there are plenty of healthy alternatives that are easy to store and prepare.

Canned beans and chickpeas, which provide an abundance of nutrients, can be stored for months or even years, and can be included in meals in many ways. Canned oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids and a range of vitamins and minerals. These can be used cold in sandwiches, salads or pasta dishes, or cooked as part of a warm meal.

Canned vegetables, such as tomatoes, do tend to contain lower quantities of vitamins than fresh produce, but they are a great fallback option when fresh produce or frozen vegetables are hard to come by. 
Dried goods like dried beans, pulses and grains such as lentils, split peas, rice, couscous or quinoa are also nutritious, long-lasting options that are tasty, affordable and filling. Rolled oats cooked with milk or water can serve as an excellent breakfast option, and can be spiced up with yoghurt, chopped fruits or raisins. Read more about metaboost connection.

3. Build up a stock of healthy snacks

Children often need to eat a snack or two during the day to keep them going. Rather than giving kids sweets or salty snacks, opt for healthier options like nuts, cheese, yoghurt (preferably unsweetened), chopped or dried fruits, boiled eggs, or other locally available healthy options. These foods are nutritious, more filling, and help build healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. 

4. Limit highly processed foods 

While using fresh produce may not always be possible, try to limit the amount of highly processed foods in your shopping basket. Ready-to-eat meals, packaged snacks and desserts are often high in saturated fat, sugars and salt. If you do purchase processed foods, look at the label and try to choose healthier options containing less of these substances. Try to also avoid sugary drinks and instead drink lots of water. Adding fruits or vegetables like lemon, lime, cucumber slices or berries to water is a great way to add an extra twist of flavor.

5. Make cooking and eating a fun and meaningful part of your family routine

Cooking and eating together is a great way to create healthy routines, strengthen family bonds and have fun. Wherever you can, involve your children in food preparation – small children can help with washing or sorting food items while older children can take on more complex tasks and help to set the table. 
Try as much as possible to stick to fixed mealtimes as a family. Such structures and routine can help reduce anxiety for children in these stressful situations.

Advice for breastfeeding children

Breastmilk remains a great food for children between 6-24 months and beyond. Women with COVID-19 can continue to breastfeed if they wish to do so. They should, however, practice respiratory hygiene during feeding, wearing a mask where available; wash their hands before and after touching the baby; and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces they have touched. If too unwell to breastfeed due to the virus or other complications, mothers should be supported to safely provide newborns with breastmilk in any way possible.

SPECIAL ADDRESS at Khazanah Megatrends Forum

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (eighth edition) are issued every five years since 1980 and serve as the cornerstone of US nutrition policy and nutrition educational activities. Eating patterns and their food and nutrient characteristics are major focus areas of of the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines. These recommendations are based on a large body of evidence to support the relationship between a healthy eating pattern and constituent nutrients on chronic disease risk. A healthy dietary pattern is high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products; lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains. Try out alpilean.

The guidelines recommend three different USDA healthy eating patterns: the Healthy US Style eating pattern, the Healthy Mediterranean Style eating pattern and the Healthy Vegetarian Eating pattern, all of which can be adapted based on cultural and personal preferences. Interestingly, they share many common food-based features (Table 1). The Healthy US Style Eating pattern is based on the types and proportions of foods Americans typically consume, but in nutrient-dense forms and recommended amounts. Specific recommendations also have been made for saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars: < 10% of calories from saturated fat; < 2,300 mg of sodium/day; and < 10% of calories from added sugars. Compared to the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, approximately 75% of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils, yet more than half of the population is meeting or exceeding total grain and total protein foods recommendations. In addition, the majority of Americans exceed recommendations for saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. On average, saturated fat accounts for 11 percent of total calories, with less than 30 percent of individuals consuming amounts that are consistent with the recommendation of less than 10 percent of calories. Average sodium intake is 3,440 mg per day for the US population (aged 1 year and older). In general, average daily intakes are higher for adult men (4,240 mg) than adult women (2,980 mg). Added sugars contribute on average nearly 270 calories, or more than 13 percent of calories per day in the US population. This is approximately 70% above the recommendation or proposed limit. The new dietary guidelines did not make a recommendation for dietary cholesterol for the following reason, “Adequate evidence is not available for a quantitative limit for dietary cholesterol specific to the dietary guidelines.” The dietary guidelines also state the following: “Strong evidence from mostly prospective cohort studies but also randomized controlled trials has shown that eating patterns that include lower intake of dietary cholesterol are associated with reduced risk of CVD, and moderate evidence indicates that these eating patterns are associated with reduced risk of obesity.” The current intake of dietary cholesterol in the US is approximately 270 mg per day. The food-based eating patterns that are recommended in the dietary guidelines contain approximately 100 to 300 mg of cholesterol.

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