By Erda Khursyiah Basir
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The Movement Control Order (MCO) from March 18 to 31 has given homebound Malaysians an opportunity to try out their culinary skills.
In less than a week since the order was enforced, social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram were bombarded with photographs of home-cooked meals. Netizens just could not resist sharing pictures of what they ate for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and even supper.
The typical daily fare is nasi lemak for breakfast, nasi beriani for lunch, mee hoon at tea-time and nasi Arab for dinner.
Treating one’s family members to their favourite dishes is all well and good but the keyword here is eating in moderation as staying healthy is essential in combating the COVID-19 outbreak.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia head of dietetics programme at the Faculty of Health Science Associate Prof Dr Roslee Rajikan urged Malaysians to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
“Most of us are staying at home now, so make sure each meal consists of all the essential nutrients you need. Eat moderately to prevent the risk of diseases setting in,” he said, adding that it would be an irony if, in an effort to check the spread of COVID-19, Malaysians invite other illnesses due to their poor dietary habits.
“In the excitement of cooking at home, people may end up consuming high levels of fat and sugar and eating at unscheduled times. All of these can affect their health.”
CARBOHYDRATES AND PROTEIN
Speaking to Bernama, Roslee said a healthy diet consists of adequate carbohydrate and protein sources. For carbohydrates, the recommended source is wholegrains while protein can be sourced from eggs and fish, as well as lean chicken and meat with their fat and skin removed.
Vegetables and fruits of all colours are also an integral part of the daily diet as they are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
“Don’t forget to add vegetables to your dishes as this is a good way to encourage children to eat vegetables. Cut up fruits and keep them in the fridge so that children can have easy access to it,” he said.
Cut down on the use of oil, fat, coconut milk and sugar as these ingredients are loaded with calories, he said, adding that seasonings should also be limited.
Desserts such as cakes, kuih-muih and ice cream and sweetened drinks should also be consumed in moderation, more so now when most Malaysians are homebound and physically less active.
Commenting on the people’s tendency to stock up instant noodles and canned food in times of a “crisis”, Roslee warned that such foodstuffs contain high amounts of sugar and salt that act as preservatives. As such, they are not suitable for those suffering from hypertension and diabetes.
It is best to eat food cooked with raw and fresh ingredients because, this way, one will know the type and quantity of ingredients one is eating.
“You may feel hungry all the time when staying at home but refrain from eating easy-to-prepare instant noodles and canned food all the time. If you must eat it, then use less seasoning and add some egg or vegetables to the dish,” he suggested, adding that people should also drink enough water in view of the current hot weather.
Meanwhile, staying at home means more time to exercise! Roslee said just walking around the compound, gardening or cleaning the house is good enough as it can work up a sweat, as well as boost blood circulation.
“Aerobics or exercises such as squats, burpees, sit-ups, planks and push-ups don’t need equipment and can be done at home with the whole family. These are fun and beneficial activities one can do to pass the time,” he said.
For those working from home, Roslee advised them to take short breaks and move around the house, instead of being seated for long hours which can have repercussions on health.
“Do some light and easy exercises. Use an application to monitor the number of steps you take each day so that you can keep tabs on your activity level,” he added.
“Stay at home doesn’t mean you have to be indoors all day. Step outside to get some morning sunshine which is important for healthy bones.”
To fight boredom and instead of just eating and watching television, people can opt to read or cook healthy food or get the family together to play board games or engage in artistic or spiritual pursuits.
“During this period (MCO), make sure you observe the same eating, sleeping and waking up schedules as you do on your normal working days to avoid shocking your body. It’s also important that you address any anxiety you may have with regard to the COVID-19 outbreak,” added Roslee.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysia National News Agency
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