For some, the idea of lockdown brought with it some perks. For starters, there was no need for an extensive work commute or morning rush to make that packed bus, allowing us to snooze a little later into the morning and catch up on some much needed rest. Meanwhile for others, the prospect of days on end at home triggered a desire for huge savings: with no rush and with a fridge at our disposal, suddenly we could all become the Master Chefs we knew we had inside ourselves, with spending on numerous daily coffees and lunch unnecessary now that we had a kitchen just a few feet from our makeshift desks.
It might have all sounded like the makings of a journey into the culinary arts, but what most of us didn’t take into consideration was the fact that most of our behaviours would change with lockdown, too. According to a research review published in the journal of Frontiers in Nutrition, lockdown has affected our eating habits significantly. The paper analysed 23 published papers and concluded that overall dietary habits changed during the pandemic in a number of ways, including those that had adopted buying more fresh produce, eating home cooked meals and drinking less alcohol, and others who ate less fresh produce, more sweet, fried and processed foods and consumed more alcohol while exercising less.
Doctors have also warned that disordered eating will be on the rise as the Covid-19-enforced isolation has seen many people develop conditions like anorexia or bulimia, or relapse. As the ABC notes, “National mental Health Commission data shows a 25 to 50 per cent surge in the number of people being treated for eating disorders across the public health system during the Covid-19 pandemic,” with significant increases in both new diagnoses and relapses.
Experts are largely unsure why our eating habits have changed so drastically, or come to be impacted by lockdown. But it also goes without saying that we’ve never had to stare at our own reflection for so much of our time. Now, our days are divided into zoom meetings and Teams catch up calls, as images of our own face and body then bounce into our retina off the computer screen. If you feel your eating habits may need a revamp or a return to the basics, here are some things to keep in mind to ensure your nutritional needs are being met and you have the energy to function.
With so many of us now having our interactions via video call, we feel a need to be constantly visible online. In an office you can tell your co-workers you’re off to lunch or going to the gym, but at home it’s hard to do those things without feeling like you’re slacking off - or worrying they’ll perceive as much.
It can mean we fail to eat regularly, choosing instead to continue working behind our desk. But following breakfast, we should be eating every three to four hours. If you feel an afternoon slump particularly hard, it could be due to a long wait between lunch and dinner. For those who are active, skipping meals not only means you’re missing out on calories to sustain you, but could also be missing out on crucial nutrients like Vitamin D, calcium and iron too. These can leave you feeling fatigued, moody and unable to concentrate.
Healthy snacks are necessary
You might assume that most would be snacking more now that we’re working from home, but most of us are actually forgetting to snack entirely. This comes back to the power of eating regularly as healthy snacks are an important part of getting enough calories to fuel your day, the key takeaway here is that they should be smart food choices and not just us reaching for a bag of chips to tie us over for the day.
If you’re craving sugar, your brain is probably asking for carbohydrates for energy and an afternoon snack can do wonders to alleviate this and take the edge off. A well-balanced snack tends to be something that has both protein and carbohydrates and will give you a boost in energy and help you feel satisfied until your next meal. Think carrots and hummus, greek yoghurt and fruit, cottage cheese and fruit, or an apple with peanut butter.
Plan your meals
When it comes to meals, many of us are forgetting the key principles behind a well-balanced meal: vegetables, grain and proteins. Variety is key, and you should do your best to add variety to your meals throughout the week, not just for the vitamins and nutrients, but to alleviate boredom too. If you’ve been doing a lot of salads, mix it up and try something steamed or baked. You want to make sure that not all of your vegetables are raw.
For more healthy food options, check out these ideas below.