Making healthy food choices is of the essence under lock down

A dietician says increased uncertainty induced by COVID-19 and the lock downs that it brings about, some people have found themselves stress eating whilst others are contending with a poor appetite, impacting their health negatively in both situations


In these unprecedented times of extreme social distancing, many people may be struggling to balance their relationship with food. With frequent fridge grazing and snacking on stockpiled treats, people have had their routines turned upside down and it gets harder to get back on a healthy lifestyle routine. Registered dietician of Accurate Wellness and blogger of Wellness With Goofy, Gofaone Moyo, says it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout and making healthy food choices.

“This is to ensure that our immune systems are working optimally as the threat of COVID-19 increases in our country,” Moyo said in an interview. “We need to maintain a healthy weight because being at home under lock down or working from home can result in poor food choices, leading to excessive weight gain that can end in other life-threatening conditions. Maintaining a healthy eating plan during lock down also ensures that we are well fueled and able to focus on our work from home or school.”

According to this dietician, an ideal healthy diet is one that contains a variety of foods that provide the body with all the nutrients that it needs daily. A healthy diet would have whole grains for energy. Fibre is a better option to white bread and refined starches. It is in whole grains such as korong (whole wheat), lebelebele (millet), sorghum (mosutlhane or bopi jwa mabele), brown rice, whole wheat pastas and quinoa and helps with satiety and therefore is easily taken in reduced portions. Fibre is also a great way to aid digestion and thus reduced risk of constipation in a time of reduced physical activity under lockdown.

“But we need to be eating protein as well,” she notes. “Like fibre, not only does protein help with satiety but it also aids with digestion. Protein can be found in plant and animal sources. Letlhodi (lentils), black eyed peas, sugar beans, chickpeas, soya products, milk alternatives (soy milk and almond milk) are plant proteins while animal proteins are meats and milk products.”

Fruits and vegetables are especially important during this time of COVID-19 because they ensure that the immune system works optimally. Moyo says this group of foods is important as it provides the body with the vitamins and minerals that it needs. Eating a variety of at least three different colours of fruits and vegetables throughout the day would ensure that one gets the necessary vitamins and minerals.

But due to the increased uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, the dietician notes, a lot of people have found themselves stress eating while others have a poor appetite. In both situations, the impact on health is negative. However, on a positive note, Moyo says a lot of people are using this time to explore in the kitchen and to create amazing dishes. She encourages people to steer their exploration in the direction of creating healthy food.

She points out that keeping healthy is an all-encompassing exercise that involves body, mind and soul. Hence eating well under lock down should go with incorporating some kind of exercise into one’s routine. This is largely to bring forth the good feeling that endorphins give to keep one in a good mood. Moyo recommends starting a small project to be motivated and looking forward to something every day. This could be a backyard garden or reorganizing a room in the house.

“Go outside,” she urges. “Get some sun and fresh air. This is important because it is easy to just lock yourself in the house watching TV and working on a computer. Vitamin D has been found in some studies to provide mood-boosting abilities. So this can prove to be beneficial.”

Asked about top tips for keeping a healthy lifestyle, she right away pointed to the right meal portions, choosing healthy snacks and keeping hydrated, especially under lock down.

Moyo is a registered dietitian who also runs a company called Accurate Wellness on whose ‘menu’ is found nutrition management, consultancy and corporate wellness services. She uses her online platform called Wellness With Goofy to promote healthy eating and wellness among Batswana by sharing recipes and educational videos on various health topics.