Pre-lockdown healthy eating habits may have taken a back seat in the last couple of months due to the consistent overwhelm and uncertainty of what’s to come. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this is the case - it’s important to remember that because our recent circumstances have not been normal, chances are our diet and lifestyle choices won’t have been either.
The lockdown period has been so different for everyone, some faced with more time to home cook healthy meals, whilst others out on the front line, busier than ever. If you fall into the latter, feel content in the knowledge that sometimes something more convenient is the healthiest overall choice.
When considering dietary choices now and going forward, it is important to remember, we are so individual; what works for one doesn’t always work for another. This is why diets don’t work; a specific way of eating designed for everyone is unrealistic, since our bodies and how we react to food is so different.
Once we avoid following the latest trend, or ‘trying a diet that worked for a friend’, we will find the space to listen to our body and eat in a way which suits our individual needs.
Dietary needs differ daily depending on age, sex, weight, activity levels and hormones etc. However the tips below could work as a general guide if you’re hoping to maintain or re-establish a healthy and sustainable way of eating in the weeks ahead.
Ditch the diet, think of what you can add in, not take out
Focus on which delicious, healthy foods you can add into your diet to make it more exciting, rather than thinking about all of the things you need to restrict. Once you begin to realise that a healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive, you will start a whole new journey of healthy eating and begin to truly enjoy your meals.
When possible, choose real, whole foods
Is it real or highly processed?
Often real food does not contain a long ingredients list and will not be edible if you leave it in the cupboard for 6 months. A lot of the time, real food rots.
Food is so accessible to us these days, with a take away at the touch of a button; we can have exactly what we want, when we want it.
Consider the phrase ‘eat what your grandparents ate’. They spent their time shopping between the butchers, green grocers, bakery and fish mongers, collecting real food; food from the earth, land and sea.
Of course, this is not always realistic; sometimes a busy lifestyle gets in the way. We need to consider what is convenient, enjoyable and affordable as well as what fits into our weekly routine, however on a whole, when making dietary choices, consider what it is and where it came from.
Fill your plate with plants
It doesn’t have to be plant based; I like to call it ‘plant focused’.
Historically, a stereotypical British meal would consist of ‘meat and two veg’. Meat was always the main event. Try to think about the plants as centre stage.
Eating more plants will not only provide you with a wide variety of nutrients but will also help to increase your fibre intake, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and helping to support digestive health. More plants please!
Balance your plate
When possible, work to balance your plate with good quality fats and proteins, whole grains, complex carbohydrates and fibre. This will work to leave you feeling satisfied, providing your body with the nutrients it needs, rather than restricting an important food group then finding yourself reaching for a snack shortly after you’ve eaten.
Eat food that makes you feel good
There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Food should not be associated with guilt or shame but enjoyed in the moment. While I wholly encourage a healthy diet and lifestyle, life happens! Lifestyle factors and celebrations should always be considered.
Feel content in the knowledge that by balancing your plate with nutritious foods most of the time, you will feel good, compared to if you consistently eat highly processed, fast food. However that isn’t to say we shouldn’t enjoy these foods occasionally, as it is a lot of fun!
It’s not just what’s on your plate!
There’s a lot more to a healthy lifestyle than solely what we eat. We need to consider the other areas of our lives that help to make us feel our best e.g. managing stress levels, improving sleep quality, prioritising regular movement and self care. When we work to find balance in these areas, we are less likely to rely solely on food and diet.
A final note
Pressure surrounds us moving forward, to quickly get back to our pre-lockdown lifestyle without considering the difficult situations we are continuing to face and what we have overcome. Give yourself credit for how you have adapted and be sure to take things one step at a time. Move forward with your diet and lifestyle choices at a pace that suits you and your individual needs.
Here at the Garden we take pride offering the most nutritious, seasonal produce all year round. We focus on creating balanced and colourful meals that will leave you feeling satisfied and fulfilled. No restriction, just nourishment! Swing by and check out our summer menu soon!
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
'The 'Wellness with Anna' philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health, providing clients with the tools they need to make sustainable changes and the motivation to start their new health journey.
We discuss how you can eat real, nourishing food, exercise mindfully and prioritise time to relax. What I provide isn't a diet; it's a holistic approach to a healthier life.'
Our weight does not determine our health. Weight shamming language, judgement and pressure to change our bodies quick will cause more harm than good. Our diet isn’t the sole contributor to our weight, and it is important to remember not everyone is in the position or has the resources to make a change. Of course we want to support people to reach their health goals and to feel their best, however we need to consider taking an approach which will be more suited to individual needs and circumstances.