Lockdown and a Healthy Lifestyle
4th June 2020
During lockdown there is no doubt that people have changed many of their habits - some being healthier and other not so. I have been carrying out remote healthy lifestyle groups and sessions. I have definitely taken from these that many people are concerned about their lockdown food intake, exercise levels and the effect of these on their health. Interestingly, a survey from Obesity Action Scotland published last week looked at this very topic. In a survey of 2079 adults living in Scotland they found that in comparison to before COVID, 43% of people were cooking from scratch with 21% eating as a family and 29% taking more fruit and vegetables. However, on the other side of the coin they found that 49% said they were eating more cakes & biscuits, 47% more sweets and 38% more savoury snacks such as crisps, while 34% said they were drinking more alcohol. Here is the general advice around eating healthier during lockdown (and after) that I have been sharing with the online groups.
Base the proportions of your daily intake of the food groups on the Eatwell Guide as seen here. This will ensure that you have the right balance of macro nutrients - carbs, protein and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals. Note that a very small proportion should come from fats and that sugary foods like chocolate and snacks such as crisps are off to the side. This is because we do need a small amount of fat to give us essential nutrients such as fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), but although nice we actually don't need cakes, biscuits or sweets.
Fluid is always an important component of being healthy and make sure you aim for the 6-8 glasses/cups of fluid per day, with water being the best drink while avoiding sugar sweetened drinks as much as possible.
Vitamin D is one of our fat soluble vitamins and is found in foods such as oily fish. offal, egg yolk, fish liver oil, fortified margarines & spreads and is very important for our bone health. However, our main source of vit D is from sun light on our skin. Difficult during lockdown to get enough sun, so it is currently recommended that everyone, apart from formula fed babies, should consider taking a vit D supplement daily.
Consider for all ages how to keep up levels of physical activity - indoors or outside. Using a tracker and aiming for 10,000 steps a day is a good way of ensuring keeping on target with physical activity. Adults should try to ensure that as well as aerobic type activities such as walking or running, that they include strengthening activities like yoga or tai chi in their weekly routine.
Many people have been asking me for advice with keeping snacking under control. As an easy to use tool that helps to increase awareness of snacking and helpful in reducing it, I suggest using a hunger scale/score. There are various one you might find on the internet, I would recommend this one from NHS Inform. Use the scale to think before you eat - 'I'm I actually hunger? What is my hunger score?'. Have a go and I hope you find it helpful.
Finally, making small, achievable changes in behaviour are important if they are to become a permanent part of your healthier lifestyle. Setting goals for change is an excellent way of setting out a systematic change plan - to do this I refer you back to a previous blog from January 2020.
Wishing everyone a safe lockdown. If your organisation would like a remote healthy lifestyle group session or sessions during lockdown then please contact us.
Dr Laura Stewart