Whether you’ve spent quarantine with Joe Wicks’ virtual PE sessions, or spent months perfecting your banana bread recipe, you’ll likely be wanting to get into healthier habits as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’.

If you have found yourself eating and drinking things you wouldn’t normally, there’s nothing wrong with that. The anxiety and stress of the past few months have been more than enough to throw most things into chaos.

We have some tips for getting back to a healthier diet, and maybe shifting a few pounds along the way.

Add to your diet, don’t take away

You might have found you’ve been eating more convenience and comfort food in lockdown than you normally would have done, but instead of trying to cut things out from your diet, try thinking about healthy options you can add.

It’s recommended to start the day with a heavy protein breakfast, as protein promotes satiety which means you’ll feel fuller for longer, and less likely to have you running for snacks when you get cravings.

Swap out starchy carbs in your evening meal for complex carbs, such as cauliflower rice, cauliflower mash, courgetti spaghetti, green pea mash, white bean and parsley mash with garlic, celeriac steaks or portobello mushrooms instead of a bun on a burger.

Dr Michael Mosley, the author of the 5:2 diet, suggests snacking on low-sugar fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, apples and pears. Remember though, fruit served at room temperature tastes much sweeter – so don’t eat it straight from the fridge.

Practise mindful eating

Mealtimes often need some structure, and that might have become lacking during the lockdown. Practising mindful eating may help you enjoy your food more and also limit cravings. Some mindful eating tips include:

  • Prepare for your meal -Turn off any distractions, such as the TV, or put your phone on silent, take five deep breaths to switch your nervous system to parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ before eating. Look at your food, smell it, think about all the goodness it will give you.
  • Eat slowly – Rest in-between bites, put your fork down and pause. Finish what’s in your mouth before going for the next bite. Make each meal last at least 20 minutes. The aim is to enjoy your food and feel satisfied, not full.
  • Chew your food properly – Chewing releases saliva, which starts the digestive process and allows for better absorption of vitamins and nutrients. Chewing well will also take longer, which will give enough time for your brain to register that you are full and for you to hear that signal.
  • Avoid liquids while eating -Drinking lots of water during meals can dilute your stomach acid. Try to resist drinking 30 minutes before your meal and for 30 minutes afterwards. If you prefer to drink with a meal, take small sips. Mint tea and lemon water are useful in assisting digestion.
  • Try to eat only when you feel hungry – Easier said than done, but before you reach for the snacks, ask yourself if you’re really, truly hungry, or are you bored?

It’s as important to enjoy the food you eat, not just eat for fuel. Adopting some health and mindful eating habits is good for the body and the mind, and will see you exiting the lockdown feeling fitter and brighter.

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