During periods of crisis, and in particular in the reality in which we have been living since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the risk of nutritional insecurity increases. This is because isolation and lockdown change our way of life and eating habits, prevent access to the supermarket and even increase unemployment, thereby affecting the financial ability to purchase healthy and varied food of sufficient quality and quantity.
Since nutrition has an effect on health, and during the period of the coronavirus, health and physical stamina are extremely important, we must maintain healthy and optimal eating habits and observe as far as possible the principles of healthy nutrition.
It is essential to know
It was found in several studies that obesity, nutritional deficiencies (mainly of vitamins and minerals) and diabetes affect the body's ability to combat diseases, including the coronavirus, and are even associated with complications of the disease and the risks of mortality from it.
What is nutritional security?
While in the past the conversation on hunger or appropriate nutrition was confined to measuring the daily quantity of food or calories available to a person or a household, presently, as healthy nutrition has an effect on several and varied aspects of health, from the emotional state and cognitive abilities, and the prevention and even mitigation of a wide range of chronic diseases and reduction of the morbidity rate, the basic definition changes. The new definition of nutritional insecurity by the Ministry of Health is "the ability to regularly and consistently obtain the foods contained in the National Nutritional Recommendations". This definition is not only broader, but mainly derives much more from the comprehensive view of health.
In other words – also people whose daily calorie consumption is higher than recommended and who suffer from significant obesity can find themselves in a situation of nutritional insecurity if these calories come from products that are rich in fat, sugar, and sodium and ultra-processed foods and their overall diet does not provide them with the vitamins, minerals and other elements in food that are essential for the body's healthy development and functioning.
Healthy Nutrition is Based upon the National Nutritional Recommendations
- A variety of natural foods (vegetables, fruits, pulses, and grains) preferably fresh and seasonal.
- Variety throughout the day with olive oil, pulses, nuts, almonds and seeds, tahini, dairy products, or their substitutes, without additives.
- Combining poultry and fish during the week.
- Seasoning – not with ready-made powders, but moderate use of salt and spices and preferably fresh herbs.
- Reduce and, if possible, avoid the consumption of alcohol.
- Prefer home cooked food over ordering in, and routinely have joint meals with family members (instead of eating in front of screens).
- Avoid ultra-processed, ready-made, and pre-packed food.
- Drinking water and not sweetened beverages.
Advice for Ensuring Nutritional Security for Myself, My Children and My Neighbors and the Community
The period of the coronavirus outbreak had an adverse effect on many of us, either following a drop in income and the ability to purchase sufficient and healthy food or following an increase in unbalanced and exaggerated eating, following the lockdowns, the isolations, the disruption of life routine and the absence of stability.
We should begin by choosing the healthiest options available on the shelf. Yes, especially now, when many are at home, which has also become the work or study place, it is important to remember that when there are healthy foods at home – we choose them. And vice versa. You can use our shopping list, which will guide you to a healthy choice.
Should the children return to their kindergartens and schools and normal activities, it is important to examine and ascertain that the habits and recommendations regarding healthy eating in educational institutions are maintained, including at parties. It is important to avoid purchasing harmful food products, especially salty snacks and sweets for events, and celebrate healthy birthdays once again.
If you are volunteers or organizers of food distribution for those in need, it is important to make sure the foods distributed are healthy, or at the very least that the distribution baskets do not contain products marked with the red labels. You may also refer to the contents appearing in the letter addressed to assistance associations with regard to the ingredients of distributed food.
Questions and answers on nutrition during the coronavirus period at the Ministry of Health website
Recommendations for parents: how to maintain a healthy diet during the coronavirus period at the Ministry of Health website
Read the National Nutritional Recommendations
Nutritional security and the coronavirus – the Ministry of Health website