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World Food Safety Day: How COVID-19 Made Us Sensitive to What and How We Eat

From the way we cook to the way we eat, the coronavirus has changed the rulebook. Here's a look at ways you can keep yourself and your family safe Until recently, for many urban families in India, Sundays were reserved for ordering in. The kitchen would inhabit a quiet calm, its usual hustle and bustle replaced by the whir of the microwave warming the meals just delivered. Boxes would be uproariously opened, food passed around and a movie cued on the television. Familiar scenes from what now seem like unfamiliar times. Food habits today Today, in the same households, Sundays look a lot different. Delivery apps now sit in the 'Least Used' section, home-cooked Sunday brunches are seeing a rip-roaring revival and the front door remains firmly sealed, save for the occasional grocery store run. COVID-19 has seared through our lifestyles, rattling our routines, behaviours, mindsets and ways of working. Eating in the time of COVID-19: Corona safety tips The coronavirus spreads through contact, and it's understood that contaminated surfaces such as boxes, plates and platforms could potentially transport the virus. In this vein, keeping the virus at bay boils down to one thing—good hygiene. Although this applies universally to one's overall routine, it holds especially true in the kitchen. Here are some tips. Tidy up your kitchen Clean your kitchen cabinets regularly to keep bacteria and other germs to a minimum. Prepare food at home Look for simple, healthful recipes that you can execute quickly and easily. Wash your hands The twenty-second rule isn't touted as life-saving for no reason. It is a hygienic practice which can arrest the spread of germs and keep your family shielded from food contamination. Cook your food adequately Uncooked food can be a sure-fire formula for food poisoning. Bring raw food (especially fish and meat) to a boil, or cook it completely before serving. Wipe your surfaces Your counters are magnets for bacteria. Clean them several times a day with a good surface disinfectant to annihilate germs. Separate your foods Rustling up some fish with a salad on the side? Use one board for your legumes and another for your fish. Mixing meats with veggies (or anything else) could lead to cross-contamination. Keep your dustbin clean Your bin is a breeding ground for smelly bacteria, so it's important that you empty it once a day and scrub it down thoroughly once a week. Wash your sink Accumulated water and unsightly food spots can attract germs. Spray down your spills immediately to avoid stubborn stains. Child nutrition: How to keep up during COVID-19 Let's face it, the pandemic has changed our buying behaviours. Many cities are affected by supply shortages, unavailability of fresh produce and severe grocery rationing. In these challenging times, here are some ways you can help your child eat healthy (as endorsed by UNICEF): Cook extra and freeze When you can get your hands on fresh produce, cook large batches and freeze. Frozen meals retain their natural nutrients and can be worthwhile when you're all out of fresh options. Keep dried and canned foods handy Canned fruit, veggies and fish; dry fruit like dates, figs and raisins; and dried pulses and grains like oats, rice, split peas and lentils are high on energy and nutrients, and can be stored for months without the worry of spoilage. Look for new ways to use them in your cooking—it's a great excuse to experiment! Build an inventory of healthy snacks Boiled eggs, nuts, fresh or dry fruit, yogurt and cheese can supply your child with energy and essential nutrients. Invest in snacks with a low perishability to build a longer-lasting inventory. Minimise processed foods Processed foods may not be entirely possible to eliminate, especially during times when fresh produce is in sparse supply. However, remember to check food labels and make informed choices about products you buy. Look for high-fibre, low-fat, low-sugar options. Make cooking meaningful Involve your child in your cooking regime. Have them wash and peel soft veggies, garnish dishes and set the table. Also, eating together as a family can help minimise any anxiety your child may have about the current pandemic landscape. In these unusual times, our Sundays may look different - but a good different. So what if it took a pandemic to reset our ways? We have learnt to bond in the kitchen, be mindful while eating, and safeguard our health for the long haul.



Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad