#EatWell during Lockdown
We’ve all had to get used to a new way of living, cooking and eating during lockdown. I’ve been working from home (#WFH) now for the past ten weeks. So for me there’s been new eating habits, more home cooking and lots of additional binge food eating moments! However it’s important to remind ourselves that there are lots of other things we can also do aside from social distancing and washing our hands with soap to protect our health and wellbeing.
Eating as healthily as possible is not only important in terms for our physical health, but also our psychological wellbeing. Healthy diets have been shown to reduce our risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, as well as depression and anxiety (1).
As we stock up in our weekly food shops, with all sorts of new food ingredients, from flour to tinned foods, this presents us with the opportunity to look at ways that we can handle eating healthy during this unprecedented challenging time. I believe now is not the ideal time to focus on weight-loss or completely changing our eating habits – as for most of us, these times are uncertain and scary. However focusing on food as sources of energy and health and not as an emotional crutch is a good idea.
With this in mind I’ve put together my 5 tips for Eating Healthier during lockdown life:
1. Focus on Boosting Our Immunity Systems
While the world is in the grips of uncertainty and fear, the last thing we want to add to that is shame about our body and weight. We need to make a shift in our attitudes during this time by eating to honour our body and keep all systems functioning as well as possible, not because we want to emerge from this lockdown looking fantastic but being healthy. Telling ourselves during this time, “I need to eat healthy, balanced meals as much as possible, not because I’m scared of putting on weight, but because I want to stay healthy in a time when my health may become compromised.” The best foods for our mental health are generally the healthiest foods. Complex carbohydrates, found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains, provide important nourishment for our brains as they slowly release energy, which also stabilizes our moods.
2. Set a routine and stick to it
For the first couple of weeks, lockdown might have felt like the beginning of a long weekend for some – but this does not mean that we should eat accordingly. As we are now all shopping ahead a good tip is to scan your kitchen cupboards and fridge and plan meals for the week ahead. Eat three square meals at set times per day, with some healthy snacks in between. This routine will help to create a sense of normality whilst also keeping you and your families from reaching for biscuits and crisps throughout the day!
3. Food essentials can be healthy
Yes, it will to be harder during this time to buy fresh produce daily, but that does not mean you should avoid healthy eating during this stay at home period. Here are some tips for healthy food essentials:
- Choose whole grain pasta or brown rice.
- Tinned tomatoes and tomato paste can add great flavour to stews, casseroles and stews.
- Produce such as beans and lentils are packed with protein and fibre, and can add texture and flavour to sauces, soups and stews.
- Oily fish like tinned tuna and mackerel are high in omega fatty acids, which help keeps our body and mind healthy.
- Dried fruit and nuts are a more nutritious snack option that will help sustain energy for longer.
4. Home cooking v’s Takeaway Food! Let the challenge begin…
Now is the time to get creative with what we have at home and search for new recipes and get the family involved. However I am also realistic and know that this can be easier said than done! I’ve been using this time to recreate my favourite takeaway treats whilst also making them healthy. Here are some of my favourites:
- Baked sweet potato or potato wedges with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and rosemary.
- Pizza bases made from wraps toasted under the grill topped with tomato sauce and some of my favourite veggies and lean meat such as shredded chicken.
- Homemade mince meat bolognaise sauce – I label, date and freeze portions to use for another day.
5. Mindful Eating
If you tend to stress-eat or eat while your mind is somewhere else, you may find yourself wolfing down food without enjoying it fully. It is really important to eat mindfully and set time aside to fully enjoy your food without distractions. Our immune system needs many different types of fuel that fruit and vegetables help to provide. Therefore our diets should be healthy and colorful: oranges, red peppers, green leafy vegetables and red cabbage provide a potpourri of vitamins, and are especially rich in natural vitamin C.
Take care of your health
- Fitzgibbon, C. (2018) ‘Millennial Culinary Curiosity: Generation Foodie Fuelling Generation Next’, Mental Health for Millennials, Vol 3. Galway. Book Hub Publishing.