How Covid-19 has affected eating habits of Ugandans

Tuesday May 05 2020

A Muslim woman serves food. One of the duties this season in Muslim homes is to share meals. File Photo

The year began rather normally for most people until late March when the head of state, announced a lockdown, aimed at minimising the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

The lockdown that has since confined majority of Ugandans at home, has affected people in all sorts of ways including their routine eating schedules with some being forced to skip certain meals. We asked some Ugandans how their eating habits have changed and below are their experiences.

Gloria Nakintu, a social worker
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and its eventual lockdown, I would wake up at 5am and prepare myself for work. I wound not miss having a heavy breakfast before heading for work at around 7am.

Then at around 1:30pm, I would take lunch (local food). I would return home at around 8pm and by 9pm, I would have dinner with my family.

However, this routine has since changed due to the ongoing lockdown. I now work from home, hence I wake up late, at 10am.

I take breakfast of mainly matooke mixed with g-nut paste and greens which I alternate with homemade chapati, eggs and porridge. This doesn't require me to wake up early. I have my breakfast at about 11am with my family of six people, we are all adults.


Due to the prevailing hard conditions, we don't have the privilege of having lunch; instead we have some juice and fruits like water melon at around 6pm.

So the main meal of the day is eaten at around 8pm. We hope the lockdown will be lifted soon so that we may go back to our previous eating routine.

Andrew Matovu, a marketeer in an insurance company
Before coronavirus struck, I was eating pretty much anything. Whatever I craved is what I would eat because I could afford it and I also had easy access to the food of my choice.

I remember eating two or three heavy meals coupled with snacks in between these heavy meals.

But now, I stay home all the time with family. I had to adjust my eating habits.
This has seen my family and I eat porridge for breakfast with homemade chapati or donuts and eggs.

The prevailing situation has since seen me reduce on the intake of junk food. My little son had gotten used to eating fast foods and he sometimes refuses to eat the local foods we are currently eating and this forces us to once in a while, fry chips for him.

We have also incorporated garlic and lemon in our diet since we told that boosts our immunity.

Since the lockdown was effected, we haven't eaten chicken and yet before, we could have it like twice in a week. We now consider it as a luxury.

Ronnie Sekate, a civil engineer
Well before this lockdown, I was having more than three meals every day. I would start my day with breakfast comprising of my favourite katogo with juice or tea.

I would have traditional food for lunch. Then, I would do coffee or tea before leaving for home where I would have a light dinner.

But with the lockdown in place, I have been forced to have two meals a day. Of course, it has been tough to adjust to eating food that I was not used to.

For example my wife often cooks silver fish commonly known as mukene and bitter tomatoes known as ntula. The lessons I have learnt are quite many. Even that silverfish I used to despise, now tastes great with posho in these hard times.

I have learnt that there is need to have enough food stored in the house, some can even be frozen. I have even realized that junk food is a waste because my skin is now glowing because of eating more greens.

Rogers Kiweewa, salesperson
Even before this lockdown, I used to have two or three meals. I have my feeding time table in my mind. When I have enough money, I buy all food types that I want.

Generally, for me, nothing much has changed in terms of feeding at home because we have been feeding in a planned manner. We buy food in bulk and come up with a feeding timetable.

So with the coronavirus tormenting the world, I am still following my eating schedule that was planned long ago.

The only challenge is buying the perishable goods since you can't store them for long without them going bad. So I have had to cut on perishable foods in this period starting with bread.

Cissy Namatovu, a housewife
During this lockdown as a family, we have late breakfast and late lunch like at 4pm.

We usually eat sparingly to leave some food that we eat for supper. The lockdown has forced us to now cook one main meal that sustains us all day long unlike before when we could eat three times a day.

This way, we don't waste food and we cannot even throw away food like we used to do before the lockdown.

Immaculate Namutebi, a mother of two
Previously, I was not a fan of eating beans but now with these hard times, beans taste very nice.

My children and I have also in this period, learnt to eat greens instead of the beef that we were used to because there is now no money and yet commodities are expensive.

We are also not wasting food. We are able to eat greens instead of meat. This season I am not saving totally. Things are more expensive than before.

It’s in this lockdown that we have I stopped the habit of saying; "I don't like this type of food or I don't like this kind of food combination". What is now important is having something to put in our stomachs in order not to die of hunger. It's survival time.