Life in Lockdown looks very different to our normal, busy and social lives with visits to restaurants, shops and our friend's houses (especially when you have kids).
Lockdown life limits us physically to our own home - and to physically socialise with the most important people in our lives, our families. That doesn't sound too bad now, does it?
This is not to say that it won't be difficult at times, definitely will. We've had our fair share of challenges with figuring out a new balance and normal way to run our home.
All the people panic buying pasta, tomato sauces and toilet paper are not making it any easier to focus on our own quiet little life. You might be wondering how you'll survive these next few weeks or months - let alone eat healthy.
I'm not saying that this is the time to completely change your eating habits or try to lose weight - but I do recommend each and every one of us takes this time to really reassess and reinvent some parts of their family's diet to be a bit healthier, then that's a huge win in the long run.
I want everyone to consider food as a nourishing source of energy and positive emotions, not punishment or something to look forward to with fear or worry.
Here are some tips for you to take home (pun intended):
1. Focus on health & immunity first - weightloss or other goals later
Now is the time to really take a step back and re-evaluate our eating habits and choice of foods. In times like these we want to be eating to nourish, optimise and recover to ensure all our body's systems are functioning as well as they possibly can - and not because you want to come out of lockdown looking fabulously lean.
Tell yourself this:
I want to eat healthy, balanced and nutritious meals to stay as healthy and strong as possible during this challenging time.
2. Create a routine and stick to it
We will go through different stages with our feelings during the lockdown - and the very beginning of the lockdown can feel like a 'bonus holiday or honeymoon period' where you get to just stay home, eat whatever you feel like eating, stay up late and keep your PJs on all day... but when that few days or a week has passed, this kind of life starts to weigh you down and make you feel exhausted and drained physically and disappointed emotionally.
Find your new routine together with your family and stick to it. Get up a certain time each day and get dressed, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at certain times and go out for your one outdoor exercise at a certain time. This will help you eat healthier, have more energy and sleep better = have less stress overall. Those biscuits and crisps also look less tempting.
3. Eat mindfully
When we're stressed or anxious, it's easy to switch onto autopilot for many things. Actions like cooking and eating our meals can become something that we don't really focus on or enjoy, but just proceed on with.
You might find yourself scoffing down food without fully enjoying it or not even noticing what's on your plate. If this is true for you, try some mindful eating tips that will help you to be present when eating. It’s important to set time aside for eating and to fully enjoy your food without distractions.
4. Pantry staples re-imagined
During lockdown, we can't and shouldn't be going grocery shopping every day to get fresh produce. The less you can pop to the store, the better. This just means that we have to get a bit more creative than usual - and believe me, this is ONLY A GOOD THING.
Good news is that if you're plantbased, you will have no trouble eating what you have in the fridge and pantry for 2 weeks - as plantbased foods tend to stay good longer and with some pantry staples such as beans, lentils and wholegrains, you can cook up any protein rich meals that will keep hunger at bay for hours - with minimal effort.
Here are some healthy pantry staples, make sure you have:
Selection of beans; black beans, cannelini beans and if you like variety, kidney beans
Dried or canned green lentils, dried red split lentils (you can put them in pretty much anything to boost protein & fibre content - and no one will notice ;))
Wholegrains: quinoa, brown rice and bulgur wheat/cous cous
Chopped tomatoes, tomato paste or passata for sauces, stews and soups (only use half the amount you normally would to save resources - and get creative with other ways to build up sauces)
Canned or frozen sweetcorn and peas (these are super healthy, always fresh and can go into pretty much any food to add colour and nutrients)
A variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruits (these will come in handy when biscuits and crisps start tempting you between meals)
5. Meal Plan & Get everyone involved
Choosing to eat healthy doesn't just accidentally happen - it's a conscious choice that you make once and then choose again, and again. It's easiest when you choose to plan a week's worth of meals together - and since you're not going to the shop everyday or even every other day, you will find it easier to actually stick to this plan. You will eat what you have planned and most importantly, WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE HOUSE.
Planning your meals in advance helps you to use what you have available, eat healthier, save money and help your children learn new healthy life skills by being involved in the whole process. It helps them - and you - that they understand how food appears on their plate - that it's not magic, but indeed a process that takes time and consideration - and most importantly - a choice.
Meal planning doesn't have to be complicated or boring, you can even make it fun.
MY WAY TO MEAL PLANNING PERFECTION
My favourite way of doing it is to let everyone write down 5 of their favourite foods (not same ones) and then you compile a week / months plan with those foods making a double/triple batch every time you cook so that you can have a lunch (and even another dinner) ready for the next day(s) too.
For us it looks like this:
Sunday night cooking - eating Sunday night, Monday lunch, Tuesday dinner
Monday night cooking - eating Monday night, Tuesday lunch, Wednesday dinner
Wednesday night cooking - eating Wednesday night, Thursday lunch, Friday dinner
Thursday night cooking - eating Thursday night, Friday lunch, Saturday lunch
Saturday night we cook something special for just dinner + lunch on Sunday
If you want to learn more about How to Boost Immunity, Energy & Health with Plantbased Nutrition - join me for a FREE training session next Thursday at 8pm!
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