You are what you eat – so the familiar saying goes. But usually – from day to stressful office day – apart from making sure we get our full allocation of our lunch hour, how much thought are we giving our food?
One of the silver linings of the Covid-19 cloud is that without the daily commute and school runs there seems to be so much more time to allocate to perfecting our menus. So even with two children under 16 in the house, we’ve had time to improve our eating habits quite a bit since lockdown began.
Preparing food is also a mindful activity in itself: top athletes use not only their ingredients as a way to strengthen their bodies but also being in the kitchen itself as a vital tool to unwind and relax the mind from the stresses of the day.
improving your diet 5 easy ways
1: Keep Hydrated
The message in the UK around hydration has been crystal clear. Keeping well hydrated is mentioned during all the messaging around the countless repeated sporting events which while away our hours in their usual weekly sports slots. 2 litres has always been mentioned as the correct amount of liquid to imbibe daily for adults – which does count tea but not alcohol – so aim to drink 3 pints of water during the working day which leaves the remaining glass to be mopped up by green teas and multivitamin drinks etc. As well as helping to support your grey matter, drinking more water will make you feel like snacking less.
2: At least Five a Day
Times of crisis prompt extra anxiety, and we already know that the best way to feel in control is to try and stay in control. Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetable a day will not only help your body it will also give your mind something positive to focus on. And in these tough times, try not counting the number of fruit and veg you eat, but the number of times a day you’re eating them. So, for instance, if you’re having carrots, peas, broccoli and onions with your Sunday roast, then count that as one portion whilst still trying to hunt down a ripe grapefruit and / or avocado for breakfast and so on. Help your body – which naturally enough includes your brain – through these distressing times.
3: Check your pulses
Thirty years ago, Vitamin C was the most talked-about vitamin. However, in terms of mood and feeling calm, Vitamin B and its derivatives is the Super Vitamin and is found in pulses such as beans and lentils so open the windows and get cooking! Buying lentils that don’t need to be soaked before cooking will save you preparation time and extra planning, and the fact that they’re used widely in Indian recipes gives you that excuse to have a midweek curry.
4: Eat plenty of fish or supplement your diet
Maybe your parents didn’t get everything wrong in the seventies: spending your time making a 70s-style prawn cocktail ticks the nostalgia and Omega 3 boxes. Mayo and ketchup is all you need for your homemade imitation sauce, too! Other seafood and fish are available. (As are supplements for vegetarians and vegans.)
5: eat it in the sun
Make the most of any unseasonal April weather and make this year the year you weed your patio, spruce up the garden furniture (see our shades of the Mediterranean, above!) and eat al fresco like you’ve always imagined you might do if you ever get to holiday abroad again. Bring a touch of the Med to your back garden, even if courgettes in olive oil and salt is not to your taste.
We have to concentrate on what we can control during these tough times, and fortunately for us, foraging , preparing and eating food come under that category. Who can feel stressed about hypotheticals when you have a very sharp knife in your hand? Better concentrate on the here and now, and good food – and good company – will certainly help to keep you in the here and now.
Meal time is also family time, and sharing stories after dinner preserves and revitalises our good memories so with all the extra energy your great diet is giving you, in the same way that you might prepare for a big meeting at work by remembering Three Things that you have to get across, during your working day try to think of Three Good Things to share with your nearest and dearest during mealtime. The children aren’t getting the energy and ideas from their teachers face to face now, so it’s your job to bring out their joy and love for life, and what better time to do that than when you’ve just been fed?
Life may not be a box of chocolates, it’s more like that piano lesson you dreaded all week that wasn’t so bad when you arrived there. Feeding our minds and our bodies is vital at this crucial time, and to quote Rod Stewart, “I wish I knew then what I know now” in terms of good mood food , information that will hopefully dissuade youngsters from smoking and vaping when they realise that food also has natural chemicals to help us chill out. Look out for “mood foods” such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes when you’re doing your next shop – you’ll be surprised how they’re a pretty good swap for french fries at mealtime as well.
Stay safe, and keep well.