Our individual and collective health may have come into the spotlight like never before, but the truth is, the pandemic’s day-to-day health impact has been mixed. Covid restrictions open up both challenges and opportunities for leading a healthy life.
One the one hand, spending more time at home breeds unhealthy habits. As our social gatherings have become limited and gyms closed their doors, many of us have instead got to know our sofas and our screens better. For many office workers, working from home has only exacerbated their sedentary lifestyle. And with stadiums empty, the beloved British sport of comfort eating has returned with a vengeance.
Yet, on the other hand, I’m sure I am not alone when I say that I have found myself feeling more grateful than ever for my own health and for the health of my family. And we all have more time to dedicate to keeping ourselves and our children ‘healthy’ during these challenging times.
The hours saved on daily commutes, while offset for some by new childminding responsibilities, has given many of us the opportunity to pursue other activities that can benefit our health and wellbeing. For my household, that has meant daily walks, meditation, and regular check-ins with friends and family who live far away. We are in many ways – somewhat ironically – leading a healthier life than before the pandemic became a looming feature of our lives.
Food is another example. This year has thrown a light on the importance of knowing exactly what we are putting in our body and in turn, the many health benefits of sourcing organic, sustainable produce. I have always been a firm believer that you are what you eat and now it’s easier to plan and cook healthy meals than ever before.
But as vaccines are developed and (we hope) a sense of normality is on the horizon, what happens next? The fear is that it will become all too easy for us to let go of the benefits we felt from leading – or at least being able to lead – a more health-focussed way of life.
The challenge for us, then, is to make some of our more positive habits stick as we transition back to how things were. We may have to watch less Netflix, but a commitment to healthy living must endure. If we can, for example, build a greater understanding of just where our food is coming from, and help individuals maintain healthy eating habits, that will stand as a positive legacy of this wretched year.
From my own perspective, it will be a question of putting into practice the healthy eating habits that I preach to my children – not just at home, but in my business. After what felt like endless planning and research, last week it all came together. The doors finally opened at The Good Plot, my farm-to-table deli in the heart of London.
My hope, however modest in scale, is for The Good Plot to help people make healthy choices when they’re considering what to cook in the evening. Natural products mean peace of mind that you and your family are eating quality food with no hidden surprises; fresh, seasonal produce means no preservatives and higher nutritional value; and the fresher the food, the more wonderful flavours there are to play with.
Needless to say, though, a single deli won’t change much. But when we gather with our families over the festive season, I know we will all be a little more grateful for our health and the health of our loved ones. After what has been a difficult year for so many of us, full of upheaval, let’s make sure that leading healthier lives is one positive that endures.
Read more of Mandy's articles in Sublime Magazine