Healthy Eating During Distance Learning


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Cyclists in Dubai living an active lifestyle

Shahad Al Marzooqi , Editor

Healthy Eating is defined as eating a variety of foods that give you nutrients to maintain your health and create energy. These nutrients include carbohydrates, fat, protein, water, vitamins, and minerals. Healthy eating doesn’t mean depriving yourself from foods you love, but reflecting on your diet and making slight changes for your health and wellbeing. Undernourishment and obesity is common amongst adolescents making them more vulnerable to diseases and an early death. Maintaining a healthy diet keeps the immune system balanced, so it’s able to fight against serious chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancers. 

Since moving into distance learning in the beginning of the academic school year (August 2020), high School Students at Gems American Academy aren’t making healthier eating choices. Each student has their reasons but the common opinion is that they eat whatever they want without having control of their eating habits. Although students have been transitioning from in school to at home remote learning during these difficult times, they tend to neglect their health and develop bad habits. They tend to snack more instead of having meals, eat less due to stress, or don’t eat at all. This could lead to poor nutrition which contributes to stress, tiredness, and the risk of developing dangerous illnesses and health problems in the long term. 

According to a poll questionnaire conducted during distance learning, 100% of students stated that they usually eat at home because it’s easier to manage financially and the pandemic adapted them to cooking regularly. Even though cooking may be seen as a challenge for some students, it allows them to take charge of what they’re eating and monitor their food. This could be seen as an opportunity to prepare their own meals and limit snack foods in their home. It’s more challenging to eat healthier if you have unhealthy snacks and treats, so if students surround themselves with healthier choices they’d be less tempted. 71% of students stated that they eat 2 meals a day which are usually Breakfast and Lunch as it provides them energy and is the most filling. Students could adjust their meals by adding a healthier side such as a salad, a bowl of fruit, or a glass or milk. 

A survey aiming to provide further insight into GAA students daily eating routines revealed the following responses: “I eat less because I feel like we get more work in distance learning” to “I eat more because I’m mostly at home and I mostly eat at home.” This shows that stress and anxiety are one of the main causes of binge eating or eating less. Because of the increase of cortisol that happens during times of anxiety

or stress, the acid production increases in the stomach leading to the loss of appetite. The best way to reduce hunger and loss of appetite is to eat protein and fiber rich foods that are filling and drink a cup of coffee before or after studying. When students binge eat during times of stress, it’s an attempt to manage and comfort unpleasant emotions. A solution to this issue would be to reduce the intake of unhealthy foods and have specific portions to avoid eating them regularly. Reducing the intake of unhealthy foods will make you crave them less, and you can consider them occasional indulgences. 

In an interview conducted with Mohammed Al Hashimi, the owner of Zero Fat (A Healthy Food Restaurant in UAE) about Healthy Eating and his journey to living a balanced lifestyle. When asked about healthy habits students should develop during distance learning he stated that “Students should limit their screen time and use their spare time to be active. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a sport, they could go for a walk, complete a cardio workout, or do yoga”. If students eat better and are more active, it will improve their mood and energy level. By exercising regularly, students will maintain a healthy weight and get rid of toxins that are stored in fatty and connective tissues making them feel better. Mohammed made sure to address the struggles of having a balanced diet but stating “Now, I’m not saying cut off sugar and fat completely, that’s impossible even for me! I’m suggesting that students should make healthier choices and take care of themselves for a better quality of life.” It’s acceptable to have sugar and fatty foods once in a while, but not to an extent where your health is at risk. So enjoy an occasional sweet treat like an ice cream or a cupcake but remember that too much of anything is bad. Happy Eating! 

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