TEST YOURSELF: Lockdown eating

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A diet expert on healthy eating during isolation

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Read the following story by Arusa Pisuthipan from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

After last month’s emergency decree was announced, people rushed to supermarkets. Instant noodles, canned foods and ready-to-eat packages were all bought as if it were the end of the world.


The lives of many have changed drastically, especially in terms of eating habits, after they locked down and in some cases started working from home. Some complain they find it hard to stop snacking, while others keep delaying their meals. Mountains of panic-purchased food supposed to last for, say, a week is consumed in a few days because working from home makes it hard to stop nibbling - taking small bites of whatever is in your fridge.

Assoc Prof Wantanee Kriengsinyos, from Mahidol University's Institute of Nutrition, said while the Covid-19 crisis might last longer than earlier expected, this is a period when it is essential for people to learn to adjust and control themselves, including when it comes to eating habits.

"It might be hard, but we can turn this crisis into opportunity. Think of this time when we are asked to stay home as an opportunity to be more attentive towards how and what we eat," said Wantanee.

While the home-isolation period could last for months, obviously people cannot just survive on stocked-up items like instant noodles, canned fish and ready-to-eat meals.

Eating such food once in a while is acceptable, but doing so too often could worsen one's quality of life, added the nutrition expert. For instant-noodle lovers in particular, out of 21 meals in a week, Wantanee suggested a maximum of only one or two.

Therefore, while supermarkets are still allowed to operate, Wantanee suggested that people reconsider the categories of food they stock. Instead of buying only dry and ready-to-eat meals, they should have fresh ingredients in amounts they can survive on for a week or two.

"There is no need to buy a lot of food because, as of now, you can still go out to supermarkets," she said.

Let's say there are 21 meals in a week. The amount of protein to stock-buy should account for around 10 meals. And protein here doesn't necessarily mean meat. Protein from other sources, including those that do not need to be stored in the fridge -- such as soy, dried beans, mushrooms and peanut butter -- should also be stocked.

Besides protein, fruits and vegetables should be part of the shopping, as they are full of antioxidants that can protect against diseases. As some fruits and vegetables spoil quickly, people should make sure they also opt for varieties that can be stored outside the refrigerator, such as carrots, cabbage, winter melon or white radish and onion.


For those who are now in work-from-home mode, quick bites and fast food do not always work.

"Figure out ways to take care of yourself nutritionally that don't affect your work schedule. Now that the time people used to spend on the road has [drastically] shrunk, they should instead spend that time preparing food for themselves at home. That's far better than eating instant noodles and ready-to-eat frozen food.

"Freshly cooked food bought from restaurants and vendors should not be kept in the fridge for too long, because it will lose not just freshness and nutritional value but also deliciousness."

As with anything, self-discipline is key when it comes to food. This, according to Wantanee, is a critical issue for people who keep delaying their meals because of work, or snacking their way through the day.

"People who work from home during the Covid-19 outbreak should stick to their normal routine -- the things they did when they worked from the office. For example, if they usually don't eat between 9am and noon when they are at the office, they should do likewise at home. Keep snacks and food away from the work desk. For people who stay home but do not work, find activities to spend time on rather than snacking all day long, which could result in weight gain and nutritional deficiencies."

Section 1: Answer the following questions in the space provided.

1. Wantanee works at which university? .…………….

2. She says we should not eat instant noodles. True or false? …………….

3. What does soy contain? …………….

4. What can protect against diseases? …………….

5. Carrots must be stored in the fridge. True or false? …………..

6. What does Wantanee say is a critical issue? …………….

7. You should change your normal daily routine if you work from home. True or false? ……………. 

8. Which word has a different meaning to the others: nibbling, snacking, eating, preparing. …………….

Section 2: Write the noun form of the following words in the space provided.

9. complain ……… 10. consumed ……… 11. expected ………. 12. fresh ………. 13. protect ……….

Section 3: Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.

Based on a survey she …14… conducted among university students who stayed in dormitories, it was found that they ate instant noodles …15… average of two to three times a week. This is still …16…, given that cooking is not allowed in some facilities. Yet the over-consumption of instant noodles could result in not just an excessive intake of sodium but also carbohydrates and fats from the oil packets.

"Instant noodles should be cooked …18… added meat and vegetables to maintain nutritional …19…,” Wantanee said.

14. A. ever  B. once C. used to

15. A. in B. on C. an

16  A. accepting B. acceptable C. exceptional

17. A. result B. resulted C. results

18. A. to B. for  C. with 

19. A. balance B. balanced C. balancing

Section 4: Find words that match the following definitions.

20. in an extreme way ……………

21. a difficult or dangerous time ……………

22. the largest possible amount ……………

23. to continue to live  ……………

24. the usual things you do at a certain time …………

Answers: 1.Mahidol University. 2.false. 3.protein. 4.antioxidants. 5.false. 6.self-discipline. 7.false. 8.preparing. 9. complaint. 10. consumer/consumption. 11. expectation. 12. freshness. 13. protection.

14. b. 15. c. 16. b. 17. a. 18. c. 19. a. 20. drastically. 21. crisis. 22. maximum. 23. survive. 24. routine.

SCORE 21-24: Excellent! 17-20: Good.   13-16: Fair.   12 or fewer: You'll do better next time!


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