17 Aug 2021
As we emerge from a prolonged period of restrictions, our daily routines are likely to change once again. We might go back to the office, enjoy socialising, or make the most of opportunities to see family and friends. We may try to hold onto some lockdown habits that were kind to our bodies, our health or the environment.
New routines offer a great opportunity to think about aspects of our lifestyle and diet that we could improve. Every one of us will have a different idea or goal, but we can unite in the opportunity to make small changes that will benefit our own health and those around us. Some may want to stick to some new healthy habits forged over lockdown, whilst others may be keen to find and embrace healthier ways. It’s possible that many people will move to a hybrid system of working, combining time working in the office and time working at home. Making sure we build healthy habits into this mixed way of working might take a bit of planning but in the long run will help our health, and organisation is the key. Keeping a range of healthier foods at home will mean that we have access to nutritious options whether working at home or taking a packed lunch or snacks to the office.
Keeping a range of healthier foods at home will mean that we have access to nutritious options whether working at home or taking a packed lunch or snacks to the office
A simple technique to follow is to ‘stop and think’ and ask yourself ‘is this a sensible choice?’ each time you’re preparing food, buying a meal or grabbing a snack or drink. It’s a great habit to follow wherever you are. Think through what a sensible choice would be before you simply reach for your favourite or what’s nearest! Taking those extra few seconds to make a decision can really help you on the way to a healthier you and a healthier planet. Start by filling your plate, sandwich or lunch box with vegetables and fruit, add some wholegrains and maybe some dairy, protein or alternatives such as peas, beans and lentils. Make water your first choice of soft drink – it's calorie and sugar free!
If lockdown meant you gained a few pounds, now is a good time to focus on losing a bit of weight. The goals for weight loss are to eat a bit less and move a bit more and using the ‘stop and think’ process will help you keep an eye on what you are eating and help you shift your habits towards healthier choices. Stop and think about the type of foods you eat, choose lighter options with lower levels of fat and/or sugar and enjoy more fruit and vegetables as they tend to be lower in calories. One of the simplest ways to keep an eye on calories is to reduce your regular portion size a little and get into the habit of avoiding seconds!
Particularly when working from home it’s easy to make regular trips to the kitchen for a drink or snack. Try to stop and think through whether you really are hungry, or perhaps just thirsty, tired or bored? Understanding the signs from your own body will help you manage your food intake. Working from home for so long might mean we’ve had regular access to meals and snacks and perhaps forgotten what ‘hunger’ feels like? Getting into a habit of recognising feelings of hunger before we eat is a valuable step in managing our overall food intake.
Here are some simple tips to think about when planning and choosing food:
- Eat a variety of different foods
- Keep healthy choices in stock
- Fill up with vegetables and fruit
- Eat when hungry
- Use up leftovers
Johanna Hignett, Nutrition Consultant (RNutr, RD), is a highly experienced nutritionist with over 20 years’ experience working primarily as a nutritionist in the food industry, as Head of Nutrition Science and Communication for Nestle UK before setting up Nourish Consulting over ten years ago.