Whilst I cannot speak to all of our different experiences during this pandemic, perhaps I could provide my take-aways from the first lockdown with regard to our relationship with food and nutrition.
To start, as we go into lockdown 2.0, a massive double portion of self-compassion. We are all doing our best to cope with uncertainty and I don’t want to add to that with concerns over nutrition, which is complex and nuanced at the best of times. So, now is not the time to double down on ‘healthy’ eating. Sticking with your usual routine of meals and snacks, especially if you live alone, may help you make sense of the day. Equally there will be those days when cooking is the last thing on your mind and if you are feeding a family, asking for their help or having a DIY dinner may help. For us, this looks like opening the cupboards or freezer and everyone making something / anything that they find. It makes for some unusual food combinations but that is part of the fun (although I’m not sure that ‘macaroni parsnip surprise’ will be making a comeback anytime soon).
In the main, ‘wellness’ has become another performative practice we’ve added to our list of desirable behaviours. We are flooded with well-meaning experts with answers to all our nutritional problems which prey on our insecurities (eating for immunity for example). However, many of the clients I connect with just need reassurance; whilst experts are jumping to tell us what we are doing wrong with our eating, it surprises many to find that they can simplify and let go of the many food rules that lead us to believe our habits (and as a consequence, our bodies) are wrong. You are your own expert and whilst we may not have control over our movement at the moment, we can exercise our freedom to eat according to our own needs. If your circumstances do not allow such freedom (who else has noticed the price of their food shop go up astronomically?) I reiterate the compassion that you are doing your best. Speaking of movements, fibre is your friend all year round so fortified high fibre breakfast cereals, eaten at any time of day or night, can be a quick, easy and economical meal.
For dessert, let us not forget food is meant to be pleasurable. Just thinking of the word ‘pudding’ makes me smile and feel that child-like joy for all the foods I love. Eating is comfort and so give yourself permission to revel in whatever that means for you – trying a new recipe, breakfast (or lunch) in bed. Seeking out self-care is a radical step towards flexible, resilient wellbeing, I’m not necessarily talking about bubble baths and candles, self-care could be taking your vitamin D supplement each day if you can, for example.
The final digestif is, paradoxically, that one of the things I love about what I do, is that I enable people to not need what I do. You can re-discover freedom around food. You are whole, you are good, you are enough.