Social distancing: Tips for healthful eating and working from home

France has been on lock down since midnight last night. Non- essential services including restaurants and tourist sites, and schools from today are shut. 

I had planned a week off from the office to attend a residential programme at Cambridge. That has been cancelled and instead it is going to be a virtual programme. So I am at home in France. Instead of fellow course mates these week, we are three family members working out of home. We have converted a spare room into an office with a large screen to allow comfortable long hours behind the computer.

Much has been circulated about hygiene measures and people are relatively well informed but less have been said about nutrition though thousands of families are going to be stuck at home for weeks, working and studying. 

Preparing is key for meals whilst working

So instead of lunch out at work, or at the university canteen or café, it is going to be home-cooked meals. There will be little time for meal preparation during the day as we will be operating on office hours, and there is need for healthful eating as we brace ourselves for what is to come.

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What to buy

Whilst no preventative diet exists, experts and nutritionists recommend boosting your immunity with multivitamin rich foods which will also help keep common colds and flu at bay. So I have planned a diet with much less animal protein and lots of fruit and vegetables. But the problem is many of the former are perishable and don’t last long.

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I share my experience so far in: stocking up, storing and healthful food preparation for easy meals during a busy week. This weekend, I made sure I bought these healthy yummy jewel-coloured fruit and veggies for the family.

Preserving vitamin rich foods

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To preserve their goodness, I cooked up delicious vegetable stews – one vegetable chilli with canned kidney beans and a vegetable couscous with chick peas. They can be eaten on their own or as a side dish with rice, couscous, bulgur as a vegan dish or grilled fish, roasted chicken, steaks and freeze well.

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We’ll eat magnesium rich bananas on their own and others will be transformed into a batch of multivitamin smoothies – red berry version and a tropical with those juicy flavourful mangoes! Frozen smoothies can be defrosted for a breakfast or eaten slushy for a naturally sweet healthful dessert. 

Long lasting foods

What else? Lots of dry foods, rice and pasta, canned vegetables and pulses, cereals and UHT milk, as well as tomato sauces if we run out of fresh ones. Parmesan for grating over pasta with Neapolitan sauce makes a simple but tasty meal. Another vitamin rich-meal: green leafy spinach in a tomato sauce with salmon. A winning combination and freezes well too. 

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Citrus Fruits

For Vitamin C, lots of citrus fruits- lemon with honey is an alternate caffeine-free hot drink. Navella oranges and juicy easy-to- eat clementines are great to snack on and to help keep colds and flu at bay. We will be indulging less in French pastries and more in colourful fresh fruit.


Bottom line- panic not prepare, and adhere strictly to health guidelines. Enjoy extra time with family. For those who do get the coronavirus- statistically, many of us will- wishing you speedy recovery. Let’s stay postive, hope for the best and by the time summer arrives this should all be over. Please share tips on how you are preparing to work from home.

itohan Barlow
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