I don’t know about you, but my eating habits have definitely changed during lockdown. Availability and acceptance, of course, play a huge part in this, but let’s be honest, food is the biggest excitement. It’s a frequently visited topic of conversation in the house and the greatest joy.
Let’s momentarily glance back to pre-lockdown behaviour. We had become complacent. We could nip to the supermarket (now a major operation) or take an online shop to checkout in under half an hour (and have it delivered the next day, would you believe?). We would leisurely select from an ever-growing choice of goodies, fill our trolley to the brim, ready to decant into our already healthy-looking cupboards. Did we ever think we’d be anxious to leave the house for such a simple, day-to-day task, or queue to get on a website; at midnight?
We were suddenly faced with the unthinkable; a shortage or complete lack of the then necessities, now luxuries, we once took for granted. At first, this sent me into sheer panic. How was I going to keep my family fit and healthy without a regular supply of fresh fruit and vegetables? Will we have to live on tins of chicken soup?
I then had a word with myself. This is ok; the country is not going to run out of food. There is more than enough for everyone, if people stop filling their guest bedrooms with dried goods. Honestly, whoever you are, are you really going to use all that flour? Maybe, just maybe, I might have tried to improve my baking skills, even just to give the kids some much-needed amusement.
A time for change
So as lockdown set in, and the practical side of my brain took control, I realised this is a time for change. Looking back to a now alien scene, when supermarket shelves were saturated with new brands promising to change the way we live and so many flavours of just one product, I remember feeling overwhelmed; often. Did the yoghurt section really need to be half a mile long? Are 35 varieties of the simple sausage entirely necessary? Didn’t we have enough decisions to make in our too-busy lives already?
Supermarkets were then forced to limit product availability. The demand for home delivery made way for independent food suppliers and preselected food boxes. As I’m increasingly thankful for the most basic produce, the vast choice I once had seems a little absurd.
Don’t feel guilty
With health being my overriding concern in recent years, I now openly admit to having been slightly obsessive about what fuelled my overtired body. I’m currently eating more carbs (predominantly the good ones, sometimes the bad ones). I’m less restrictive, and I don’t feel guilty. It’s unlikely I’ll whip up a three-bean salad with fresh herbs, pomegranate and Greek feta, even if I could get hold of all the ingredients, at the same time. Seriously, I don’t have the energy. The humble baked potato with tinned tuna and a side salad (the salad being the luxury item; varying in content according to its proximity to the colossal achievement of a food shop) is more likely to make an appearance, and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Any edible or drinkable treats ease the monotony and have subsequently, become an integral part of our survival toolkit. Wine is essential for my sanity, as is chocolate (also our only form of bribery for the small people prone to going stir crazy). And because online workouts and outdoor exercise are the other big excitements in our lockdown lives, it all balances out (most of the time). Regardless, life won’t be like this forever, even if it feels like it will.
Establishing a new balance
So, I’m starting to wonder what exactly I was worrying about before. No one knows how the world will look when we resurface from this enclosed existence, but should we take the simplicity and adapt it into our future selves? Eating on the go was never good for us. Fast food was getting out of hand, but obsessing about the next big superfood or full-body cleanse wasn’t great either.
I’m no Einstein, but if we calmed our lives down a bit, combined a simple balanced diet with exercise and fresh air, wouldn’t that be enough? We’ve rediscovered the joy of food. Proper food. Simple food. Surely that’s good for the soul, the mind and ultimately, our health and wellbeing.