Anything that creates added stress and pressure to our life will always have an impact on our mental well being. This then results in us turning to comfort and making us feel inclined to reach for the feel-good foods. But as we all know, these foods are not what result in us feeling good in the long run. Coronavirus is most definitely one of those situations: Everybody’s lives have been turned upside down, with normal routines completely going out of the window and an element of our control being lost, so we hope to share some key tips around nutrition during Coronavirus and how you can keep it on track.

If we allow our nutrition habits to get out of control it can start us on a huge vicious cycle that becomes difficult to break: We end up over-eating, or eating all the foods that aren’t good for us. It leads to us feeling lethargic, meaning that any exercise do gets pushed to one side because we “don’t feel like it” or “can’t be bothered”. For many of us, exercise is what makes us feel good about ourselves, so by skipping it, results in our confidence diminishing and feeling like we are failures. Because of this, what do we end up reaching for…. you’ve got it! The stuff that gives us the immediate pick me up, and there the cycle starts again.

But it doesn’t have to be like that!

In addition to this, we really don’t want to end up at the doctors or in hospital at the moment: They are stretched enough, and it is not the type of place we want/need to be hanging around. Keeping your nutrition in check will help you fight off anything horrible, and will keep your immune system strong by fuelling the body with the nutrients it needs.

Get the basics right

The good news is that you don’t need to come up with some ingenious plan that completely transforms your nutrition. All you need to do is stick to the basics, and make sure you focus on getting them right.

  • Plan: There is a well-known saying by Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” We know thatNutrition during coronavirus we want to minimise the risks we are putting ourselves in, so going to the supermarket weekly for example is definitely better than us popping in every few days. A good habit is to plan ahead and prepare a meal plan for each day. We have personally found that we plan our evening meals and have done that for as long as we have lived together, but at the moment we can see some bad habits creeping in at lunchtime where they wouldn’t normally. So we have now resulted to preparing our lunchtime meals as well to prevent this. By creating a plan, everybody in the house is clear what it is throughout the week, and it makes shopping easier as you can create a list and go with some focus instead of getting lured in to what looks good or is on offer (mostly the foods that aren’t good for us). It also means there is very little food going to waste at the end of each week too.
  • Eat little and often: People often get this totally wrong, and think that if they eat less then they will be looking after themselves. As we have said several times, our bodies are like cars: They need fuel. The key is eating the right things, and if you eat little and often it helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels so you avoid the peaks and troughs and the subsequent emotions and hunger that goes with that. Snacking is not bad, but bad snacks are. Make sure that you have some healthy snacks to hand to help with this. We often go for the Graze snacks as they are prepared to the correct portions and are focused on being healthy. By eating snacks you will stop yourself from getting too hungry, meaning you don’t end up going for a bigger portion size than needed at meal times. A good routine would be breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, evening meal (possibly a small snack after this depending on bed time etc)
  • Get the balance right: This is a potential game changer. Very often we are top-heavy on the Carbohydrates, but if we can get the balance across each meal we will find we will feel satisfied for longer and not feel the need to reach for the naughty stuff after. Ensure each meal consists of some protein, some carbohydrates (this can be fruit and veg, it doesn’t have to be just potatoes, rice, bread etc), and some healthy fats. Yup… That’s right, we are saying eat fat! Just eat the right type: Unsaturated.
  • Stay hydrated: It is recommended by WHO (World Health Organisation) that “The general recommendation for adults is to drink at least 2 litres of water per day. However, for those with physical jobs, exercising or living in hot climates, more is needed – up to 4 litres or more” We would suggest that you focus on getting this from water alone. A lot of people try to include their tea, coffee, or squash within this but ideally keep it clean and keep it coming from water. You can of course have your tea etc, but aim to minimise this where possible.

Take the pressure off

Now is not a time for the “new year, new me” approach! This time is generally about getting through and coming out the other side. Despite what social media and fitness enthusiasts may be throwing all over the internet that now is the perfect time to start a new challenge! Ignore all of that! Those things are exactly that… challenges! Do you really think that is what is needed right now when everyday life is challenging enough? Now don’t get us wrong, there will be people out there that want to throw themselves in to something like that because that matches their behaviour and survival techniques, but for the majority, these things are only going to end up being a hindrance, and definitely not a help. So take the pressure off, keep it simple, and keep it something that doesn’t add to the stress you may already be feeling.

Make it work for you

If you really aren’t a cook, then don’t think that you “should” start making all of these meals from scratch just because you have more time. That is not going to do your mental health any good (unless of course you give it a go and realise you actually quite enjoy it). Instead, try to focus on an approach that works well for you based on what you enjoy, what is realistic given your commitments and what you can stick to.

Listen to your body

A lot of the time we tend to eat out of boredom, or perhaps because we are feeling a little low. So whenever you find yourself routing through the goody draw, or sticking your head in the fridge to see what you can have next just ask yourself the questions “Why am I wanting to eat, what am I feeling right now?” There could be a number of reasons for this. Let’s look at some as well as some suggestions to overcome them:

  • I am feeling a little low. If you recognise this, try to do something that you know will pick you up. Perhaps you could Nutrition during coronavirushave a ready-made list for these sorts of occasions. It could be listening to some music, having a dance around the kitchen, getting outside for some fresh air, connecting with friends or family over the phone or listening to something uplifting such as a positive podcast just to name a few.
  • I am bored. This is such a typical reason why we may go on the hunt for food. Have some bits that are easily accessible for when this kicks in. Maybe you have a craft project you could get stuck in to, or a good book you’re enjoying reading. Maybe connecting with others could help. The main thing is go for something that you enjoy and distracts you.
  • Ask yourself “Am I thirsty?”, most of the time when we think we are hungry we are actually thirsty, so grab yourself a glass of water first and see if the feeling subsides.
  • Maybe you are just hungry…. fair enough! We all get that at times. This is where your prep comes in perfectly, make sure there’s some cut up fruit, or snacks such as the Graze ones for example that you can easily pick up instead of going for the biscuit tin.

It’s not all bad

So yes, nobody can dispute that we are in strange, worrying and stressful times at the moment. But we certainly don’t need to let that take over and end up spiralling in to even more anxiety inducing times. Take the bits from above that resonate with you the most and seem reasonable for you to include in your life, and aim to follow it through for the duration that we are dealing with Coronavirus.

We would love to hear if you have been implementing anything with your nutrition that is really helping you, so please feel free to share these below.

Most importantly, stay safe.

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18 Comments

  1. Hello there, this is such an important article given the circumstances we find ourselves in.

    I have to admit, my diet has completely gone out the window. This is for 2 reasons, firstly as alluded to in your article, the coronavirus. Second it’s ramadan, so fasting has changed the diet routine completely.

    Whilst this should encourage more discipline, truth is when the fast opens I tend to eat junk food.

    I think once ramadan finishes, I absolutely must implement the advice given in your article – it’s a good plan to have to eat little but often, staying hydrated and of course listening to the body, which isn’t feeling too good since the gym is closed.

    What would you recommend for opening a fast (one which requires no food or water until sun dawn to sunset?

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi, this must be an extremely challenging time: As you mentioned, Ramadan completely changes all normal routine, and to then have Coronavirus going on at the same time must make it all the more difficult. My suggestion would be firstly, to remove any unnecessary pressure that you put on yourself, your main goal should simply be get through this time. However, if you would like to be mindful of what you are eating when you open a fast then there are some things you could consider: 

      Your body will naturally be craving sugar, and water. I would recommend drinking water first to rehydrate the body, and then if possible ignore the signs by the body to consume as much sugar as possible as this will lead you to consume excess carbohydrates, (which when broken down are broken in to sugars) or food containing refined sugars. Instead go for a balance and try to fuel the body with Protein (as well as carbs and fats). The thinking behind this is that Protein keeps the body fuller for longer, therefore, once you enter the fast again, you will not already be on the down from the sugar spike so this could lead you to feeling better when you next open the fast.

      I am not trained in nutriton during Ramadan, I am simply sharing what I know from my training over the years with nutrition in daily life. So I do hope this helps, but it is important to note that this is my opinion.

  2. Owning a nutritional company, this writing obviously falls near and dear to my heart. I love the suggestions you have here. If there was ever a time for most of society to be somewhat “structured” in their daily dietary habits, it is now. The food “freedom” these times provide most with can be very dangerous. When you couple the ability to “munch” nearly all day with the “stresses” you noted, disaster can strike for sure. Stay healthy!

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more, there is a lot of freedom and change for everybody at the moment, trying to incorporate some kind of structure is most definitely beneficial. I am glad you enjoyed reading!

  3. This is a very well written article.  You have provided ideas and information for people who tend to reach for the food for multiple reasons.  I too have suffered from overeating but have found that since I joined Weight Watchers and have had to account for what I’ve eaten I do much better.  These times are very stressful and trying for people and I think your article will be helpful to those who are looking for better alternatives. 

    1. Hi, it is great to hear that you have found a tool that works for you, I think when people are able to connect with something like this it is half the battle. Accounting for what you eat certainly makes you more aware doesn’t it, I think we can often find ourselves mindlessly eating food without even realising it, but knowing you have to account for it in some way can easily make you stop and think “do I even need this?”

      Hoping you stay safe and well during these times

  4. Hello there thanks for this review, it was of great value I must commend. Sincerely speaking it is really difficult to keep track of our nutrition in this times because everyone right now thinks of surviving. However whatever the case may be a healthy life is the key to survival and we need the right nutrition to actually do that

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more, we tend to put something like nutrition at the bottom of the pile when we are in survival mode, but as you said it is actually key to that. If we can find a way to manage it better without it being another added stress during these times I think that is a good way to move forwards, hopefully some of the points in this article cover that.

      Stay safe

  5. Hi Adam and Emma,

    Congratulations on taking the time and effort in putting this evocative and thoughtful post together on nutrition during coronavirus, it makes very interesting reading. I suppose it’s too easy when we are stuck at home so much since this pandemic has come to haunt us to eat rubbish food and to forget about what actually makes us and keeps us healthy. Your post hopefully will make people stop and think about how to cope better with this virus by eating well, exercising and being kind to each other.

    Well done,

    Fintan

    1. Hello Fintan, I am pleased you enjoyed reading the article. I couldn’t agree with you more than we are much likely to eat rubbish food during these times, we were definitely guilty of it ourselves to begin with. But hopefully some of the tips we have shared (which are some of the things we have incorporated as a result), will be of use to many.

      Stay safe

  6. Hey Emma, thanks for sharing this wonderful post as its going to be beneficial, considering covid-19, isn’t going away anytime soon. Some predict a full 2 years before life may completely get back to normal which itself is scary. I could totally relate to most of your points, as we too plan for all the groceries & fruits needed for about 10-12 days together. I basically just sit down with my family and decide upon the whole week’s meal plan depending upon what everyone wants to eat & then shop accordingly. Of course, it’s always nutritious & healthy recipes. Thanks again for sharing these valuable tips! 🙂

    1. Hi, it is very uncertain times for many at the moment, and this in itself can be enough to create challenges for people. I love your idea of all sitting down together, that way everybody has buy in for the meal planned for the week ahead. Thanks for sharing your tips too, I am sure many will find that useful. 

      Wishing you all the best during these times

  7. I couldn’t help myself to laugh while reading this post. Not because it’s funny, but because it made me feel guilty about “I am bored. This is such a typical reason why we may go on the hunt for food.” 

    This is the case for me. What I did was to cook and try out different recipes on the internet. It was very satisfying. 2 months later, I have to go on a weight loss diet because I already gained 7.8 kg. lol!. 

    I’m also thinking about the stress that makes me go on unlimited eating and an unhealthy diet. Hey! Thanks for this post. It’s a very good reminder for taking extra good care of ourselves – especially at this time of the pandemic. 

    1. Hi, I am so pleased you enjoyed reading the article. 

      Please do not feel guilty about relating to some of these points… that is exactly why they have been written… because so many of us can relate (but perhaps don’t want to admit it).

      How great that you know your triggers though, this can be massive in terms of preventing them becoming obstacles.

      Be sure to look out for our article on healthy recipes very soon, this way you can enjoy cooking without the added weight.

      Wishing you all the best with your weight loss, be sure to ask any questions if we can be of any help at all.

  8. Hello there! Sincerely speaking, I have been trying to limit the way I eat these days but its not just working, I think I now know the reason; I will stop buying some stuff that will make me eat more.

    Thank you very much for sharing this with me, its very resourceful and helpful for me. and my friends who will see this.

    1. Hi, that is definitely something that we always have to abide by, as we now that if we have the wrong things in the fridge/cupboard is hugely reduces our willpower and we end up eating all of that.

      We are pleased that you have found it so useful, we hope your friends do too.

  9. Thank you for your post. It is a timely article for all. The coronavirus is still in a stage of uncertainly. The best we could do is to prepare ourselves for the situation and make body at the best condition.

    Nutrition is a critical factor for keeping our fit and thus the power to fight against the virus. I particularly like your description on Get the basics right. I agree with you that we don’t need to come up with some ingenious plan that completely transforms our body, but stick to the basics. 

    Listen to our body and our body tells us all. You are the best doctor for yourself. Feel good is the best indicator. Nutrition make you feeling good is the golden standard nutrition. Try to find your best nutrition.

    1. Hi, I love the approach of listen to your body, and that feeling good is the best factor. 

      Wishing you all the best during this time.

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