During the current Coronavirus pandemic, living life to the full under lockdown will mean we face even greater challenges than usual. Now more than ever it is important to eat well, if you eat as well as you can during this period it will help your physical and mental wellbeing to deal with the current situation and what the coming weeks or months may bring.
Eating well is important for many reasons. It may help keep your immune system strong. Especially important just now because if you develop coronavirus, you want to be in as best health as you can be to deal with the symptoms.
We know doing activities that fit with our values, things that make you feel happy, or give a sense of achievement or closeness to others are all important for our health and wellbeing.
You may not have noticed this before- but food can work the same way. Food choices we make can improve how we feel, – and food choices that make us feel worse. I’m not just talking in the longer-term by putting on weight, developing type two diabetes or heart disease – but foods that can affect how we feel today, tomorrow and over the next few days. Maybe there has been a shortage of some food products due to supply & demand, don’t let that stop you from making the healthiest choices you can from what is available in your local shop or supermarket.
Make Good Food Choices
So, what are these food choices? Well they are mainly fruit, vegetables, protein and fibre all contributing to a healthy diet.
Let’s take for example a banana it contains potassium, which is good for your heart. It is a great source of Vitamin C, fibre and Vitamin B6. Bananas are free from fat, it also gives you energy, but it releases it slowly and steadily, the way your body likes it. They have a calming effect and can aid sleep.
Vitamin D is needed to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. It keeps our immune system strong for us to fight off bacterial infections and viruses especially colds & flu. We get some of it from sunlight, but if your not getting out as much just now then it’s even more important to make sure you get it through food we eat. You can help this by eating oily fish- including tinned tuna, sardines or salmon, egg yolks, red meat and fortified foods such as spreads and some breakfast cereals. Vitamin D is often called the ‘happy vitamin because some experts suggest there is a link with it helping our mood. So, there’s lots of reasons to ensure we include it in our diet.
Beware of Comfort Eating
During lockdown you may be even more tempted than usual to reach for comfort foods or drinks, that’s understandable! So, making small, easy changes is the key to feeling happier and healthier while you spend most of your time at home. For most of us eating something healthy like a banana a day is a small, easy thing to do.
If you need to limit your sugar intake because of diabetes then choose fruit such as blackberries, pear, watermelon– that are lower in sugar. Now more than ever it is really important you keep to your recommended diet plan in order to stay as healthy as possible. Always follow the advice of your dietician or diabetes specialist.
There are some other small, easy changes you can make to eat well. Breakfast! it helps get you going in the morning and sets you up for the day. When you do without breakfast, your body doesn’t get the right kind of start, and you’re more likely rely on coffee or snacks often giving you a headache by lunchtime.
But when you eat something healthy like porridge or fruit and yogurt each morning, you don’t need all those snacks, your digestion works better, and your mood improves dramatically.
Just like a banana is good for your gut health, porridge or low sugar cereals can also work well to fill up for longer and you feel better all round. So, if you don’t eat breakfast at the moment, start tomorrow. Make that first meal of the day a healthy one and you’re more likely to make healthy choices throughout the rest of the day.
Planning Your Meals
Just now we are advised to only shop for essentials once a week. Therefore, planning menus and drawing up a shopping list will be a great place to start organising you’re eating well plan. Your routine is going to be very different so again it’s important to maintain regular eating patterns as much as possible.
Maybe you’re working from home, that doesn’t stop you from making up your lunch in advance as you would normally.
Limit the number of snack foods you buy that way you will be less tempted to snack all day.
Now, let’s think of some other small dietary changes that can contribute to improving how well you eat and feel. We’ve all been told many times; we’re supposed to eat at least 5 or more portions of fruit or veg every day. Do you sometimes struggle to do that? It can seem daunting can’t it? Especially if you’re not that much of a vegetable-lover in the first place. So, its about eating what you enjoy and every now and then try something new, you may get a nice surprise.
You may not be able to get out to the shops/foodbank as often just now – frozen fruit and vegetables are as healthy and can be more so than fresh ones and it often works out cheaper too.
Make Cooking a New Skill
Cut down on fast food and ready meals – maybe if you don’t already cook this is a good time to start.
It will give you something productive to do, a sense of achievement and wellbeing, get the children or partners involved and have some fun. You may find you actually enjoy it. It’s an excellent way to increase your sense of closeness to others and keep boredom at bay.
Here’s another small, easy change that can make a big difference to how we feel.
Fast food. We all eat it sometimes. It’s fast and easy, after all. And, of course, it’s cleverly arranged to taste great! And if you can’t get to the shops then it’s even more tempting.
But too much of it is a bad idea. So, if you eat fast food, or too many factory ready-meals, or a lot of take away food…take one away!
Just drop just one item of fast or prepared food each week and replace it with something you cook yourself and within just a short time it will help you start to feel healthier and happier. And probably a bit better off financially too! Even if you have never cooked at home before there are lots of online video clips – to show you the way. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before preparing or eating any food.
It may be more difficult to order takeaway deliveries just now anyway. But if you do, it is advisable to ask the company to leave the food parcel on your doorstep. Although there is still a lot of uncertainty, it is advisable to discard the packaging it comes in as soon as possible and wash your hands straight away before eating.
If you are feeling anxious or worried just now, we have a range of resources to help you. Our online course is aimed at helping people with low mood and depression and is free, find out more and sign up here. Check out our Worry Box ebook and more here and free resources such as Tension Control Training.
Eat well, stay safe, the Living Life to the Full Team.