Food to watch out for during (and after) quarantine

Food figures prominently among Filipinos.

The Pinoy’s love for food is evident because of the food itself and the enjoyment of eating it with family and friends.

ECQ foods

But now that Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine for some provinces, people staying at home tend to binge on readily available food and buy those that will take a longer time to perish.

Dr. Dean Zenarosa, resident doctor of the Philippine Information Agency based in Quezon City, said the ECQ has caused many people to stockpile on food items that will not spoil as fast as others.

However, it is vital to know if these food items are actually good for our health.

Dr. Zenarosa shares some health tips from the faculty members of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of the College of Education of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) to help the public stay healthy through the food they eat.

“Nutrition hazards that we should watch out for include high sodium intake, increase in sugar consumption, low fiber intake and high intake of empty calorie food,” Zenarosa said quoting the UST tips.

Non-perishable items or processed food last for months, however, these are also usually high in sodium.

Excessive sodium consumption may be related to increased risk of hypertension, he added.

To lower sodium intake, opt for a low sodium version of products like noodles, luncheon meat and soy sauce; add other ingredients such as vegetables to ‘dilute’ the sodium content to increase serving portions; avoid snacking on chips; opt for available fruits and stock up on root crops.

The dietary and nutrition tips also revealed that spreads are also sources of sodium, thus making our own spread like using boiled egg for sandwich is healthier.

It is also advisable to limit the use of condiments like catsup, patis, soy sauce and bagoong.

Increased sugar consumption is also something to watch out for, revealed Dr. Zenarosa saying excessive sugar intake will eventually elevate blood sugar level which is detrimental to people with diabetes and impaired fasting glucose if uncontrolled.

It is best therefore to obtain sugar from fruits, making your own juice instead of drinking soda or sweetened fruits juices and mixing your own coffee instead of buying 3-in-1 packs as these usually have high sugar content (3-4 tsp per sachet).

“By recommendation to normal children and adults, intake of sugar should be less than 10 percent of total energy requirement or around 6-12 tablespoons of sugar, according to the Philippine Dietary Reference Intakes,” the doctor said.

During this quarantine period, people tend to have low fiber intake. Fiber is beneficial as it helps in lowering cholesterol and in preventing and controlling diabetes.

Fiber can be obtained by eating enough fruits and vegetables that are also rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemical.

At least 20-25 grams of dietary fiber should be consumed by adults per day.

One-half cup of cooked vegetables already contains 2-3 grams of fiber, Dr. Zenarosa added.

Adults and children should also watch out for high intake of empty calorie foods.

It is at this time that there are higher odds of consuming empty calorie food, but lacking in terms of essential nutrients.

These include candies, sodas, sugary juices, chips, sausages, hotdogs, pizza and other processed foods.

It is wiser to prepare your own sopas, pizza and fruit mix to snack on during the lockdown period, he added.

The community quarantine protocol is for us to stay at home but it is best to stay healthy while staying at home.

Source: Venus May H. Sarmiento, Philippine Information Agency, May 12, 2020