How to eat well for your body and mind in lockdown

Healthy eating, assortment of fruits and vegetables in rainbow colours background, top view, selecti

What we eat and drink has an impact on our wellbeing. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It's easy, in the cold, dreary days of lockdown, to turn to comfort food

But what we eat has a significant impact on both our physical and mental health.

Anne-Marie Minihane, director of the Norfolk Institute for Healthy Ageing at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, has offered tips to ensure we look after our health in lockdown.

  • Eat regularly. If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and depressed. Eating regularly and choosing slow-release energy foods can keep sugar levels steady. They include pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.
  • Choose a good breakfast to set you up for the day, such as wholegrain cereal or porridge with semi-skilled milk and fruit.
  • Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks and alcohol.
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink one and a half to two litres of fluid per day. Water, lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count.
A warm breakfast like porridge - with optional nuts and berries - will give you a great start to the

Porridge with semi-skimmed milk and fruit is a good breakfast. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • Get your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to ensure you have a good range of nutrients. Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced (one glass) fruits and vegetables all count.
  • Look after your gut. Your gut health has a big impact on our mental health. If you're stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up. For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise regularly. Healthy gut foods include: Fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics.
A picture of Prof Anne-Marie Minihane from UEA in a lab wearing a white coat

Prof Anne-Marie Minihane from UEA - Credit: Norwich Research Park

We are all feeling the pressure of lockdown, but we should be aware of its impacts on our diet. In the short term, stress can shut down appetite, Professor Minihane said, but if it persists the opposite can happen, increasing appetite and motivation to eat.

It can also affect food preferences, including the intake of food high in fat and sugar.

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Her tips come ahead of our Open Up event, a series of virtual workshops, interviews and debates relating to our mental health on Friday, February 12.

One session, from 3.30pm to 4pm, will focus on nutrition and your mind, including a discussion on food is so key for our wellbeing.

As well as Professor Minihane, As well as Professor Minihane, Dr David Vauzour, an expert on gut and mental health links and chef Galton Blackiston will also be speaking.

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Chef Galton Blackiston. - Credit: Archant

Mr Blackiston will then take viewers through a recipe stage by stage in a demonstration.

Open Up is run in conjunction with Norfolk County Council, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Norfolk & Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group and Mind Norfolk and Waveney.

To sign up to the event, visit: