So I’m currently writing this post for you from the comfort of home – something that most of us are now used to as we enter our third week of lockdown here in the UK. We’re all doing our part to look after society as a whole, but are you making the effort to look after yourself too? I left it to my lovely Instagram followers to vote on the topic of this blog post, so as requested I’m sharing my top lockdown nutrition tips to help you stay well throughout this difficult time.
First thing to check in with is your home environment. Have a think about whether you’ve created a productive work environment if you’ll be working from home, or if you’re unable to work from home, consider what you’ll be focusing your time on for most of the day. Whether you’re working, you’ve got a new hobby or are doing a bit of DIY in the house, the environment makes a huge difference, and having snacks nearby can provide a distraction and temptation. Try to create a workspace that is separate from the kitchen, and if you get easily tempted by snacks, keep water or squash on your desk to make sure you’re hydrated (we often mistake thirst for hunger), and have healthy snacks such as fresh fruit within reaching distance.
If you’re a bit of a snack fiend, take a look at my latest ‘Stay at Home’ snack guide on the ‘My Work’ page for a few helpful tips.
Get a Routine
For those of us who aren’t used to spending a lot of time at home throughout the week, it can feel like a big challenge to suddenly spend almost the entire day indoors. One of the best ways to keep yourself focused and on-track with your work and your nutrition is by creating a routine. Have a rough plan of what you’d like to achieve in the day, whether that’s work-orientated, DIY goals or a fitness session, and fit your meals and snacks around this. For example, timing your snacks so that you have a carbohydrate-rich snack such as a banana 1 hour before an exercise session, with a protein and carbohydrate-based meal to follow soon after the session, can be a useful way to structure your food. Having a routine to follow at least on the weekdays can make your workload and food intake manageable and balanced, which is key when we’re all experiencing such a stressful time.
Those of you who follow me on social media will know that this has become one of my catchphrases! Being flexible is important in nutrition, but never more so than right now. Not only by region but also within the same supermarkets themselves, we’re experiencing a huge variation in the availability of food. As a personal example, I visited a supermarket over a week ago, spent 40 minutes queuing, but found the shelves fully stocked, with a large proportion of the fresh produce reduced due to surplus stock! Exactly one week later, I visited the same supermarket at the same time of day, waited for the same length of time in the queue, and found the shelves bare when I entered. It taught me that it’s important to have an open-mind with what we’ll be able to purchase for the time being, and so being creative and investing time in looking for alternative ingredients is going to be essential. I’m fortunate to be used to experimenting with new or alternative ingredients in my recipes, but for those of you who are worried about how to make food swaps, here are a few of my top tips:
- If fresh produce is in short supply, don’t be afraid to opt for canned or frozen – it can still be just as nutritious!
- Bulk out soups, stews and sauces with canned chickpeas, beans and lentils where possible – they’re a source of protein and fibre and will enable you to reduce the meat portion (if you’re including meat in the dish)
- If eggs aren’t available, consider ‘egg replacements’. Depending on your target dish, suitable egg replacements could include: chia/flax ‘egg’, mashed banana, apple sauce, aquafaba (chickpea water)
- When fresh milk is unavailable, look for UHT, powdered milk, or you could try plant-based milk drinks such as soy milk, almond milk, or other nut-based drinks
- Now is a great time to experiment with dried grains as alternatives to pasta and rice. Bulgur wheat, quinoa and pearl barely are highly nutritious, cheap and are likely to be more available than the more traditional UK staple cupboard foods
Check out my new Being Flexible guide in the ‘My Work‘ section for plenty of tips on how you can work on being more flexible with your nutrition!
Find your Focus
This was the second top-voted topic on the Instagram poll, so I thought why not tie this into the Lockdown Nutrition theme? Now is a great opportunity to find a new nutrition goal to work on – we all have at least one that we’ve been putting off for far too long! It doesn’t have to be fat loss, in fact improving the quality of your diet overall may be far more important, and could have secondary effects such as improved body composition and energy levels. If you can increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, fantastic! If you need to work on your portion control, now is the time to educate yourself on what the right portions for you look like. And ultimately, with all of this spare time to hand, there’s no excuse for not brushing up on your kitchen skills too! Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be difficult, but if you struggle for inspiration head over to my social media for plenty of tips and recipes – or get in touch and I’ll be happy to help!
That’s it for this week’s post, short and sweet! I hope this has helped to give you a bit of guidance for managing your nutrition throughout the lockdown, and as always if you have any questions or recommendation, please get in touch via social media or the contact form. Wishing you all the best and take care.