24.03.2020 – Food & Drinks | State of emergency

‘A lot of people are prone to putting on weight’

Interview: Eva Hediger

Panic buying, home office snacks and lockdown food – we talk to nutritionist Céline Sommer about what we should be eating during the corona crisis.

Particular kinds of fruit, vitamin supplements – social media is full of advice on what we should eat to fight coronavirus. But is there any truth in it?

There’s no particular food or vitamin that will protect you from getting infected. But your immune system needs a good supply of vitamins, minerals and secondary phytochemicals. If your immune system is strong, you will probably only suffer mild symptoms, particularly if you are young. It doesn’t really matter what kind of fruit and veg you eat. The main thing is to follow the Five A Day rule and eat a wide variety. It’s also important to buy locally grown produce that is in season.

Many supermarket shelves are empty because people are stocking up. What products should they be buying?

If you fall ill or have to go into quarantine, you won’t be able to leave the house for several days, so it makes sense to ensure you have some basics in stock. The government has published a brochure (Notvorrat) giving advice on this. But please don’t start panic buying, as this just produces unnecessary food waste. Frozen fruit and vegetables are excellent long-lasting foods, but pickled or fermented vegetables like sauerkraut are also a good choice. Nuts, unsweetened dried fruit and dairy products such as cheese also have a long shelf life, plus of course canned foods like beans and pulses. Eggs and dried meat provide protein, while rice, pulses and potatoes are good sources of carbohydrates.

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‘If you’re feeling hungry, how about a quark dip with vegetable sticks?’

Everyone seems to be buying pasta.

Of course it’s the easiest solution, but it’s best to choose wholegrain varieties because they contain more dietary fibre. It’s also important to vary the side dishes because every foodstuff has a different composition. So instead of pasta you could serve potatoes, legumes or black rice.

A lot of people are working from home and complaining that they are snacking too much.

This is a big issue at the moment. It’s best to try to maintain your normal routines. We recommend eating three balanced meals a day that will fill you up for several hours – so until your next meal. A balanced meal consists of a large portion of vegetables or salad, a portion of protein and a portion of carbohydrates.

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What about something sweet?

It’s quite okay to have a little sweet treat every day, but it’s best to eat it immediately after lunch. Then you digest it with the rest of your meal, which avoids your blood sugar spiking during the afternoon.

Some countries have already imposed lockdowns. If it happens in Switzerland too, should we change how we eat?

It’s quite okay to have a little sweet treat every day, but it’s best to eat it immediately after lunch. Then you digest it with the rest of your meal, which avoids your blood sugar spiking during the afternoon.

‘If the lockdown lasts for some time, take a vitamin D supplement.’

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Céline Sommer works at the Nutrition Centre in Zurich. She and her colleagues are available for phone consultations during the corona crisis.

Some countries have already imposed lockdowns. If it happens in Switzerland too, should we change how we eat?

Yes, it makes sense, because at the end of the day, you are getting less exercise. A lot of people are prone to putting on weight, so it’s important to incorporate an exercise routine into your daily life. You should also reduce the proportion of carbohydrates in each meal from a third to a quarter. Eat more vegetables and salad instead. It’s also worth cutting down on sugar and fat during this period. And if the lockdown lasts for some time, take a vitamin D supplement, because your body can only produce it if it’s exposed to sunlight.

Poll

Have you changed your eating habits now you’re working from home?