Phil Holmes BA (Hons), PGCE, Adv Dip.Nut MRSPH

The really positive part of this whole episode seems to be the increase in family time and the decrease in the speed the world moves. We’ve been wanting somebody to force these types of changes for several years and, finally, we have an event which has. There are a great number of negatives that we see and hear reported everyday but let’s look at how we can make the best of this situation and enjoy the coming weeks and months.

We have more time for each other. Less stress in the morning and more time away from rush hour. It’s starting to feel like a step back in time by about 40 years. We can therefore cook more meals ourselves and have less need to squeeze any form of convenience meals around the end of the school day, club training sessions and bedtime.

We are also being encouraged to limit our shopping trips (and rightly so). We are educating our children with varied levels of input and direction from each school. Again this allows more time to spend with the children. So we can use the structure of the school day to bake together. It’s a wonderful way to make ‘treats’ but allowing us to control the content; no preservatives, hidden nasties, colourings etc. After all, home baking was a normal part of home life many years ago and we didn’t have an obesity issue.

That said, we also didn’t have computer consoles and a digital world. But there are ways of keeping a limit on the daily fuel intake of our children. Gone are the covert snacks they manage to add through a normal school day: white bread paninis with cheese, a tray of cookies, bottles of fizzy pop that could strip paint. Young people may never eat as well as within this lockdown period.

So capitalise on homeschooled baking lessons. Go for flapjack, muffins, banana loaf and others. In the words of Marie Antoinette, ‘let them eat cake’ but knowing that it’s been homemade and isn’t their fourth high sugar carb of the day.

Finally we can make evening meals. These will require some planning but hopefully we have the time to do this. It will be great to go with a nutritious balance of meat (if that’s your preference), vegetables and a healthy source of carbohydrate such as brown rice. And here is the advice: Always cook too much. Always buy slightly more than needed (note that this is not bulk buying!). Freeze the excess and this will reduce the pressure to cook every night. Use any leftover rice for lunch the next day; it goes really well with tinned fish and salad as a healthy option.

And therefore if we select and plan before we shop we can aim to buy slightly more food in one go. This has the knock on effect of giving us a better stock of ingredients that we know we need and, ultimately, allows us to visit the supermarket less frequently – which slows the spread of any viral symptoms.

And when planning look for protein with each meal, vegetables as a large part of lunch and dinner and hydrate with water. For growing adolescents encourage milk to be drunk as well due to the need for calcium and skeleton development. They may not be as active but they are still growing.

Stay safe x