Life after lockdown: the new habits to keep

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Despite its many challenges, 85 per cent of Brits say they have seen positive outcomes to lockdown, according to research from meditation app Headspace.

Many of those positives appear to be food related. We are cooking more and HelloFresh found that almost a third (32 per cent) of Brits believe that lockdown will change their eating habits for good.

There’s no doubt our day to day lives have changed dramatically over the last few months and new habits have undoubtedly been formed. So what are the habits the nation have been busy forming?

Here, nutritionist Kim Pearson shares with us the habits we’ve adopted and whether we should keep hold of them, or leave them in lockdown.

Half the population has struggled with sleep during lockdown (Unsplash)
Half the population has struggled with sleep during lockdown (Unsplash)

Habits to keep:

Cooking from scratch

Research from Flora found that almost half of the nation (43 per cent) have been cooking from scratch more. It seems that with the absence of restaurants and high street lunch options, we have been digging out those cookery books and getting busy in the kitchen.

Why it’s a keeper: Cooking food yourself gives you much more control of the ingredients you put into a dish. You can adapt it to your nutritional needs and tweak recipes to make them healthier if necessary. When there’s less time, batch-cooking dishes to freeze in portions is a great habit to get into.

Eating more vegetables and fruit

Flora’s research also found that 30 per cent of us are eating more fruit and vegetables. As a nation our record for consistently meeting the minimum target of five a day veg and fruit has not been great but it seems as though this has changed under lockdown.

Why it’s a keeper: We all know that they’re good for our health. And eating plenty of vegetables can aid weight loss if you’ve found your weight has crept up during lockdown. Choose organic and seasonal if possible, signing up for a weekly veg box is a great way to do this. While fruit is nutrient dense and has many health benefits, remember that it can be high in sugar so focus on lower sugar fruits like berries and stick to a maximum of two portions a day.

Wasting less food

HelloFresh identified that 30 per cent of Brits admit that they have wasted less food since lockdown and one in five (19 pert cent) adults have tried new ingredients and recipes during lockdown in an attempt to reduce food waste.

Why it’s a keeper: With concern for the environment greater than ever, not wasting food is something we can all do to help stop climate change. With a recession looming, there’s no better time than now to be mindful of food waste. Shop carefully, plan meals in advance so you just buy the ingredients you’ll need and don’t overlook frozen and tinned foods that have a longer shelf life. Love Food Hate Waste is a great resource to check out.

Getting outside more

You only have to take a stroll in your local park, or watch the news, to see that with offices, gyms, restaurants and pubs all closed, we have taken to the great outdoors.

Why it’s a keeper: Exposure to natural light has many known benefits for human health. It enables us to synthesis vital vitamin D and helps to regulate our circadian rhythms (or ‘body clock’). Socialising with friends outside and getting out for a daily walk of at least 30 minutes are great habits to maintain.

Working out regularly

ClassPass has seen a rise in the popularity of the 20-minute workout.

Why it’s a keeper: There are many ways that regular exercise benefits our physical and mental health. Consistency is key, so work on finding an activity you enjoy doing and that you can easily fit into your everyday life when life picks up again. Such as a 20-minute workout!

Prioritising self-care

Headspace found that nearly 2 in 5 (39 per cent) Brits have also been kinder to themselves since lockdown began. Of those, 89 per cent say they’ll continue being kinder to themselves post-lockdown.

Why it’s a keeper: In our busy day to day lives, it’s easy to put work commitments and the needs of others above our own needs. Looking after ourselves is vital for our health and happiness. Self-care takes many forms – from a walk in nature to taking 20 minutes to read a magazine with a cup of tea. It’s about identifying what feels restorative for you, then implementing a strategy to ensure you consistently make time for that activity.

Many Brits have turned to carb-heavy treats during lockdown (Unsplash)
Many Brits have turned to carb-heavy treats during lockdown (Unsplash)

Habits to leave in lockdown:

Sugary bakes and starchy carb meals

Homemade pizza (26 per cent) is has become the nation’s favourite new recipe to make from scratch say Flora, followed by bread (24 per cent) and cake (24 per cent). But the carb and sugar fest can’t continue forever without consequence!

How to break it: Find healthier alternatives. That might be making pizza bases from cauliflower, or finding healthy baking ingredient swaps. It doesn’t mean you have to stop making cakes altogether, perhaps just cutting down from a couple of cakes a week to one a month.

Increased alcohol intake

According to YouGov, 35 per cent of us were drinking more alcohol during lockdown. Of these, 28 per cent said there were drinking a little more and 7 per cent said they were drinking a lot more.

How to break it: Keep a journal and note down how much you’re drinking. The Government recommends that we don’t regularly exceed 14 units (around 6-7 small glasses of wine / pints of beer) a week. Knowing how much you’re drinking can help you stay under this amount. Check out my article on easy ways to cut down your alcohol intake.

Erratic sleep habits

King’s College released research showing that over half the UK population has struggled with sleep during the lockdown.

How to break it: Get into a sleep routine aiming to go to bed at the same time each night, setting an alarm to remind you to switch off Netflix and go to bed. If you struggle to sleep, you can read my guide to getting a better night’s sleep.

Comfort eating

A survey from 1:1 Diet identified that 47 per cent of us have been gaining weight during lockdown. Amongst the top reasons dieters gave for their weight gain were comfort eating and lack of routine.

How to break it: Start off by keeping a food diary noting down everything you eat, at what time and how you feel. This will help you identify non-hunger triggers for eating so that you can find healthier strategies for fulfilling those emotional needs. Aim to re-establish a daily routine and plan meals in advance as much as possible.

Kim Pearson is a qualified nutritionist and weight loss specialist based on London’s Harley Street. She consults clients in London and internationally via her virtual consulting room. For more information about Kim and the services she offers, visit her website.