Bulging tummyFor many in lockdown, home cooking three meals a day is a novelty, but like all novelties can become tedious over time. It may work alright when on holiday, as when on holiday, there is the mix of outings, fish’n’chips and pizza! But here in New Zealand, during lockdown, there is no fast food, no Uber eats and definitely no restaurants or cafes to feed us. Be easy on yourself though and remember it doesn’t all have to be gourmand fare. There is nothing wrong with rustling up a quick omelette or soup and toast!

When the novelty becomes tedious, the temptation to cook “minute noodles”, to continually snack on treats or trying out that Beer Bread (Lockdown loaf!) recipe, is just too easy. Obviously baking of sugar and carb heavy treats has also become a big thing during lockdown – have you been able to find a bag of flour lately? Along with this is also the added lure of showing off our baking skills on social media – and over indulging on it when the cameras are off.

In truth, we are all likely eating and drinking more than normal due to finding the closeness of the fridge a bit too irresistible or because we are simply bored. We all know that food is not only nutrition – it is a pleasurable experience to indulge in. Eating gives us all a sense of comfort and helps relieve stress. What’s better than a good cup of coffee and a companion chocolate chip cookie to relax with? Many of us also turn to food to reward ourselves. “Ahhhh one more day of lockup down. That deserves a plate of ice-cream”, type reward.

It’s not just about the baking – booze has taken up a reasonable slice of everyone’s lockdown too. And the belt becomes a little tighter. It’s easy to fall into bad habits and to excuse our behaviour because we are in a crisis. These are normal coping strategies we use both consciously and unconsciously, to relieve our feelings of stress and boredom.

The key to enduring the lockdown – and coming out the same size on the other side – is to stick to a routine.  Do the same things you would normally do in an ordinary day. If you are off to work in your household “bubble”, wear your work clothes. Keep to your work breaks. Replicate your work day patterns even though you are not in your usual workplace. It might sound a bit naff doing this but by keeping up your normal routines your dietary habits will be maintained too.

If not working, create a new routine to follow – write it down. Get up the same time each morning. Throw in a bit of light exercise even if it is only a walk around the block (leaving two meters between those outside your bubble of course). Make a list of small jobs to do around the house – and tick one off each day. You now have the chance to get around to sorting those old photos out or cataloguing your music collection – so do it! Set aside a regular time each day to relax and read a book. Add in your usual meal and snack times. More importantly, avoid binge watching Netflix to the early hours of the morning and sleeping till mid afternoon!

These are all things I do each day to keep myself motivated and stimulated. I also have a rule of not turning the computer on before 5pm each day. It is too easy to fall down that rabbit hole. But eventually, by doing this on a daily basis, it will become automatic and the days will fly.

Additionally, finding and completing small tasks each day will give you a sense of achievement no matter how small the task completed. You can then look back on the lockdown in a more positive light. Having an empty “ground hog day” each and every day of the lockdown, will only increase your stress and anxiety, leading to demotivation, depression and needless to say, doing nothing for your health.

It goes without saying too – stick to your normal drinking habits and don’t make the all too easy choice of passing the time in a haze of empty beer and wine bottles.  If you generally have a few extras on a Friday night, go ahead and do so, but avoid doing so each night of the week just because you do not have to get up early for work tomorrow. Keep in mind that one day, hopefully soon, you will be getting back to a normalised routine again.

Use this time of crisis as a chance to create good habits not bad.