If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid contracting COVID-19, now might be a good time to buy a lottery ticket, as it seems many of us have found ourselves spending another week in the ISO as the dreaded virus continues to do the rounds. When you’re not feeling well, preparing nutritious meals for yourself and your family is the last thing on your mind, despite the need for good nutrition right now to aid recovery. The good news is that there are a number of meal delivery options out there that can help ease the burden of food prep, while ticking the boxes for the key nutrients we need to support our immune systems. .
While there are plenty of high-fat, high-calorie Thai foods, such as pad Thai and green curry, there are some great choices thanks to the fresh vegetables that form the basis of many popular menu items. Any sautéed vegetables iThis is a good option, and a dose of chili will help clear the airways. Choose lean protein options such as shrimp or beef strips when you can for a natural dose of iron and zinc, and replace the starchy white rice with extra vegetables to make your order much healthier.
A Thai stir-fry (with extra chili) is a good take-out option.
It’s the omega-3 blend sashimiprebiotics and probiotics through a range of fermented foods and nutrient-dense superfoods such as edamame and seaweed this makes Japanese such a nutritionally good option. As you recover, look for warm options like miso soup, grilled salmon and Edamameand choose brown or black rice whenever possible to reap the added benefits of whole grains.
Middle Eastern cuisine can be as healthy or as heavy as you like, with the wide range of grilled meats and vegetable options on offer. Avoid fried menu items like falafel and opt for meat or chicken skewers; lighter salads including tabbouleh and fattouch; and any legume-based product vegetable stew will all be an excellent choice.
Reach for chicken skewers for a healthy dose of protein. Photo: William Meppem
Forget the giant burritos and nacho plates overflowing with cheese and sour cream and opt instead for lighter options filled with veggies, like a naked burrito. Skip the rice unless brown is available and go easy on the corn chips to enjoy a reasonably healthy and flavorful meal. And if you don’t mind a little spice, enjoy it. jalapenos for a metabolic hit.
When it comes to healthier takeaways, Vietnamese is often overlooked, even though it’s one of the lightest options you can find. Not only is Vietnamese food calorie-light, it’s packed with lean protein and vegetables, and contains far less fried foods than other Asian cuisines. Although relatively high in sodium, Pho is a good option when recovering from COVID, the broth aiding in rehydration after a period of eating and drinking little for several days at a time.
Anti-inflammatory spices are used in many fragrant curries, and if you avoid ghee and/or coconut milk dishes, a curry filled with vegetables (minus the heap of white rice) can be a good option on the nutritional plan. You can’t go wrong with an order of hal as a starting point; Chicken Tikka is another relatively lightweight option, just like a tomato curry with fish or beef. Spices are good for the metabolism, and also for the nasal passages when you suffer from a respiratory disease.
Tasty take-out Chinese food is not the healthiest option. Photo: iStock
COMMANDS TO AVOID
Although you have a fondness for fatty foods, these high-fat snacks are the nutritionally worst option when you’re sick. COVID is a virus that increases inflammation, and foods high in salt and fat also increase inflammatory pathways in the body, so they will do nothing to aid recovery and may even worsen the symptoms experienced.
If made on a thin base of wholemeal flour and topped with lots of veggies, pizza can be a healthy option, but let’s be honest, the pizza we tend to order doesn’t usually fit that description. High in processed carbs, fats, and salt, save the homemade pizza if that’s what you’re craving, and skip the 2-for-1 deals and greasy garlic bread and sugary drinks.
Forget the pizza while you recover from COVID. Photo: Supplied
Don’t be fooled by the bright colors and the odd steamed dumpling, because overall the Chinese dishes we order are fried and high in fat. Fried rice and noodles, spring rolls, dim sims, sweet and sour pork, honey king prawns, and crispy-skinned chicken can all be incredibly tasty, but that’s thanks to salt lashings, of oil and MSG. Unless you opt for steamed fish and vegetables, your order won’t have the nutritional profile that a healthy meal of lean protein and vegetables offers. If you crave Asian food, opt for Vietnamese or Japanese instead, which are often much lighter in calories.
Susie Burrell is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist with a Masters in Coaching Psychology.