Back in March at the start of lockdown many people began to feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious about the thought of daily home cooking for their family (or even just for themselves). The sudden reality that there were no takeaways, no restaurants, no daily coffees on the way to work and limited time (and possibly money) for food shopping sent many people into panic, wondering how they’d ever cope.

But from these challenging times grew something quite beautiful: more and more people approaching home cooking with a new found sense of excitement and joy. Households realised they could save hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds a year by eating more local, fresh, seasonal produce and eating out less. Families spent more time together prepping, cooking and eating meals which meant parents and children talked more and strengthened their relationships.

In addition to increased family bonding through food and exercise, Jersey has also seen a surge in people planting their own vegetables and a return to traditional home cooking favourites such as jam making and baking. It’s also been beautiful to witness the community spirit across the island during this difficult period.

As we inch slowly forwards into a ‘new normal’ way of life in Jersey, you may feel the stress and monotony of daily home cooking during lockdown fade into the background as you return to delicious restaurant meals and tasty al fresco dining. With so much excitement to get back to the things we love and to socialise with the people we’ve missed, it would be a shame to lose sight of the physical and mental gains we made during lockdown.

One of the biggest risk factors in developing a severe case of COVID-19 appears to be obesity. And we all know how much easier it is to eat the cheesecake than to burn it off!

So, before you fall back into old habits, here are my top tips for maintaining a healthy weight, boosting your immune system (to help protect against all kinds of viruses, illnesses and infections) and ensuring a high intake of nutrients to boost overall health.

Stick with home cooking! Home cooked food is generally lower in calories, fat, salt and sugar than pre-prepared ready meals, takeaways and fast food. Plus, when you cook using local, seasonal ingredients you help the environment on a global scale by using less packaging and buying food that hasn’t had to fly thousands of miles to reach you. And in case you needed another reason, food preparation allows you to really connect with the food you eat and to infuse it with love as you cook. (And more time chopping = less time scrolling on social media or mindlessly watching television which means more calories burnt off!)

Jersey Life magazine article August edition 2020

  • Watch your alcohol intake. Science has proven that alcohol is linked to increased risk of major diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Many people who drink alcohol in a social setting say they feel pressured into doing so by their friends or family. So before you get back into old habits, take some time to think about what you really want and whether alcohol (and hangovers and health issues) are really worth it.
  • Eat 5 -10 portions of vegetables and fruit daily. If your intake is currently low, start by increasing by just 1-2 portions a day for a few weeks and then increase some more. Vegetables and fruit contain essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and colourful phyto-nutrients that boost well-being at a cellular level. These nutrients the improve immune system and aid healing.
  • Cut out sugar. Refined white sugar, golden caster sugar, syrup, sweets, cakes, biscuits and confectionery contain no useful nutrients and may contribute to poor skin and hormone problems. Plus, they’re a source of hidden calories that contribute to slow weight gain over time. Of course, you don’t have to cut out treats completely, but try to avoid sugar on a daily basis with just the occasional piece of a friend’s homemade coffee cake or a slice of banana bread with grandma. If you’re baking at home, it’s easy to replace sugar with mashed banana, applesauce or by adding raisins, blueberries or dark chocolate chips.
  • Drink lots of water. Ideally consume 1-3 litres daily – depending on your body size, physical activity level and the outside temperature. Remember that raw fruit and salad vegetables all contain water too.
  • Eat more leafy greens. It’s salad season, so adding a big bowl of lettuce to the family meal or a handful of home grown rocket to each plate isn’t too difficult. Other great leafy greens include spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli and watercress. Fresh herbs can be added in abundance too as well as ‘sprouts’ – little sprouted seeds (such as alfalfa or broccoli) that can be bought in small tubs from various shops in Jersey.
  • Get your body moving. Being told to stay at home seemingly made more and more islanders want to get out and explore the island on foot, by bicycle or even with regular sea swims. It really doesn’t matter how you move your body, just do it every day. If you’re limited due to mobility issues, illness or pain, start small with whatever you can do. Have a little dance in your lounge, wiggle in your office chair or sit on the floor and do some stretches. Try to get your heart rate up so you’re a little out of breath at least 3-4 times a week. For more home cooking inspiration and plant-based (vegan) recipes, take a look at my e-books available here: Written by Lorraine Pannetier
    Intuitive Copywriter and Plant-Based Home Cooking Expert