Posted on April 24, 2020

Nutrition tips during COVID-19 lockdown

There has never been a more important time to consider what you are eating than now while in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. No one knows how long these virus safety measures will need to stay in place, but one thing is sure: health and nutrition must be made a priority and people need to consider what they are consuming to help maintain and strengthen their immune systems.

However, eating as healthily as possible is important not only for our physical health, but also for our psychological well-being. A healthy diet has been shown to reduce our risk of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, as well as depression and anxiety. Be careful that your anxiety, stress or even simply boredom do not lead to “emotional eating”. You don't have to follow a particular diet or eliminate absolutely everything that is not healthy, just avoid processed foods as they tend to be high in sugar, and rather opt for healthier options. 

To help make sure that you maintain a balanced diet during lockdown, here are a few suggestions on how to make healthy food choices during these challenging times.

  1. Plan meals in advance

One of the cornerstones of heathy eating is meal planning. You can make cooking and eating a fun and meaningful part of the family routine. It is best to plan meals a few days or a week in advance and try to involve family members in food preparation. Planning meals will prevent the frustration of deciding every day what to prepare. It will also enable you to go shopping with a shopping list, saving money.

  1. Ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients

Variety is key to a healthy diet. Avoid omitting any food groups while on lockdown, unless you have a medical reason to do so. The emphasis should be placed on nutrients that support your immune system during this time, including vitamin A, C, and zinc.

  1. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

Purchasing, storing and cooking fresh vegetables can be challenging during lockdown. Appropriate meal planning can guide shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables can also be frozen to limit the trips to the grocery store. Use fresh vegetables in dishes such as stews or lasagne that can be frozen for later. Frozen fruits such as bananas and berries can be used for smoothies. Also consider dried or tinned fruit and vegetables.

  1. Choose whole-grain

You can easily make your diet a bit healthier by replacing refined starches with whole-grain options, which are higher in fibre, B vitamins and various minerals.

  1. Keep healthy snacks around

Keeping healthy and nutritious snacks nearby will ensure that you don’t head straight to the biscuit tin. When planning snacks, pair a protein source with a fruit or a grain, for example an apple and nuts, a whole-wheat cracker with cheese, yoghurt with a banana, whole-wheat bread with peanut butter, or even hummus and carrots.

  1. Consume oily fish

Canned oily fish is a really handy item to have in your cupboard while on lockdown. Not only is it an affordable protein source with a long shelf life, but it is rich in omega-3, which can assist in well-being.

  1. Make the most of nut butters

Nut butters, e.g. peanut butter, are loaded with good fats and will stand the test of time in the cupboard. Include more good fats into your diet.

  1. Hydrate

Drinking an adequate amount of fluid is essential for our health and immune systems. Adding fruits or vegetables like lemon, lime, cucumber slices or berries to water is a great way to add an extra twist of flavour.

  1. Make set mealtimes – and stick to them

Keep to a set routine of mealtimes. Plan a good breakfast within an hour of waking up, and then plan meals and/or snacks with regular intervals, e.g. three hours apart. Be disciplined and mindful while eating. That way, your body will adapt to a routine and hunger pangs will be predictable and easy to handle.

  1.   Allow yourself to indulge every so often

Remember to indulge every now and then. Not only will this boost your mood and keep your spirits high, but it will prevent you from binging on sweet treats you might have forbidden yourself from eating.

Stay connected with EWP@UP

Kind regards,

The EWP@UP Team

Join UP’s stress management workshops

Sign up now for virtual sessions to help you manage your stress levels.

For many, increased stress has accompanied the uncertainty and disruption that COVID-19 has caused. UP is here to help you with stress management sessions.

In fact, we need a certain amount of stress to function optimally. It is therefore in our best interest to determine how stress can best be dealt with. This will lead to insight into coping mechanisms, how to identify and utilise your inherent resources, and a better understanding of yourself and your personal growth. Participants will learn more about stress and how it affects them, how to take control of stress levels, and how to manage stress in a way that suits the unique demands placed on them by their lifestyle and environments.

Since it takes at least six weeks to establish a habit of mindfulness practice, participants would need to attend 3 consecutive sessions as the sessions will build on each other. The sessions will be presented virtually and will take place with two-week intervals in order to give participants time to practice and incorporate the skills they have learnt into their lives.

By attending the 3 stress management sessions, participants will be able to:

  • learn more about stress and how it affects them;
  • learn about the body-mind connection in stress
  • know the basic principles of mindfulness;
  • understand and experience why mindfulness is such a powerful tool;
  • learn how to respond to stressful situations in a mindful way;
  • learn some basic mindfulness practices which they can use to manage stress and anxiety; and
  • get back to having joy in their lives.

Date: Wednesdays, 29 April, 13 May and 27 May 2020 for the follow-up sessions

Time: 9:00 to 14:00 with 90-minute intervals

Presenter: EWP@UP Professional

Venue: Virtually via Microsoft Teams invitation upon registration

Please note that although participation is voluntary, members of staff are encouraged to register and attend.

Since we can only accommodate 10 participants, bookings will be made on a first-come, first- serve basis.  Please note that it will be required from participants to complete all three stress awareness sessions. To ensure your place for the Stress awareness group, please click here to book by choosing any of the available three time slots.

Further information can be obtained from EWP@UP by sending an email to [email protected] or [email protected]. Please direct all enquiries to the abovementioned email addresses only.

Join us and start making health and wellness a way of life!

The EWP@UP Team

Donation to the UP Solidarity Fund

Dear UP employee

As COVID-19 continues to spread, we are all feeling anxious and uncertain about what the future holds. These are challenging times for us all, and I hope you’re in good spirits and health. Although there’s a lot of uncertainty, we know that we need to adapt to our new reality and support our students as much as possible. And we need you.

Last week the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tawana Kupe, provided an update in terms of the ongoing developments in ensuring our students are ready and well equipped for our online teaching and learning, which will resume on 4 May 2020. Prof Kupe has already pledged his commitment to supporting the UP Solidarity Fund, which has been put in place to assist our students who do not have access to devices and data. I would like to encourage each of you to join and be part of this collaborative effort to assist our students.

If you’re able to, please make a donation to the UP Solidarity Fund. We welcome all contributions in cash or kind. Please see how to do so below.

Sign into HCM Self-Service

Select the Remuneration and Benefits tile

Select Staff Donations

The success and well-being of our students are our priority. We are committed to providing our students with the necessary support to ensure their success. In times like this, we are reminded of how interconnected we all are. Thank you for being part of our UP community. Without you, none of it is possible.


Kind regards,

Sithembile Mbuyisa

HR Director 

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences