We’ve been big fans of accredited nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill, of The Brown Paper Bag, for many years - you can see her at home here. She’s an endless source of inspiration for all things wellness, and delicious and nourishing fare (here and here are a few of our go-to recipes she’s previously shared with us). Here, she talks through her day on a plate during lockdown (with delectable recipes included – we’re planning on whipping them up ASAP) and how she’s navigating social distancing with a newborn baby and homeschooling child.
I think most importantly at this time when we’re at home and there is temptation just to graze and snack all day is to keep a structure for both work and food. That way, you’re not feeling dissatisfied from snacking or not eating proper meals, or finding yourself snacking on the wrong foods in an attempt to resolve boredom or procrastination.
Structure your day with some meditation and exercise in the morning to boost blood flow and brain power followed by a balanced breakfast. Ensure there is a coffee/tea/snack-break mid-morning (and make sure you’re not sipping coffee all day and then wondering why you feel wired at bed time!).
Make time for lunch away from screens and technology as we’re on them so much at present as it is (try my delicious Broccoli Tzatiki Apple Salad with some protein if you’re up for feeling fantastic!).
Opt for an afternoon pick me up that incorporates healthy fats – my Citrus Glow Bars are perfect for this – to satiate and tie you over until dinner.
And, of course a nourishing dinner to look forward to – I’m loving my Immune Boosting Miso Carrot Corn Sweet Potato Soup right now and highly recommend you try! I share plenty of these ideas on @brownpapernutrition and the blog.
Ensure you’re getting enough sleep – it’s during sleep that our body utilises energy to build immune function. Try not to let the stress of the current environment build on you long term, as this burdens the immune system too. Get the information you need from the news – say, two news stories – and move on. Don’t tap in and out all day.
Feed on fibre
To help support your immunity, focus on eating lots of plant-based whole foods such as leeks, onion, garlic and asparagus which are rich in prebiotic fibres, and foods rich in resistant starch such as oats and cooked and cooled potatoes. Whilst all plant-based whole foods are wonderful, it’s these in particular we highlight to feed the microbiota in the gut and in turn to build immune function and strength.
Amp up antioxidants
Garlic is wonderful thanks to the presence of allicin, which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Eat plenty of foods rich in zinc such as legumes (chickpeas and lentils), nuts and seeds, organic eggs and dairy, and if you eat meat and fish, then organic red meat and oysters. I could go on but I’ll finish with foods rich in antioxidants like vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C. For vitamin A, aim for those beautiful colourful foods in the plant kingdom such as pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrot, and to get your dose of vitamin C, choose lemons, limes, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, Brussel sprouts and broccoli. Try my Steamed Fish with Red Onion, Pesto and Fennel – it’s divine and packs plenty of these nutrients in too.
Food habits have generally oriented around too much grazing between meals and not enough structure in the day, resulting in less balanced meals, lacking key macronutrients. Exercise wise, most are keeping on top of things in some way but it’s incidental exercise and step count that has dropped. You’d be surprised how many steps add up with a walk to the bus stop or work, and how this can impact your physical health and emotional wellbeing.
Start today, don’t wait. Less excuses and more action is always a great approach. Set one goal for the next five days and stick to it. Write it somewhere (like on the fridge) to keep you on track and tick the box each day.
I also love finding a swap to help – so for instance if someone is spending five minutes having another coffee break, but don’t feel they’re as active as usual then use the five minutes to do some release work on the floor with a cricket ball or foam roller, or a quick yoga flow.
Make a commitment to yourself to support your health with good quality nutritious food, eaten mindfully and lots of exercise in the great outdoors. Don’t yoyo or crash diet, be practical and considered in what you choose to do because you have the opportunity to create new habits now that you can carry with you for life.
“We’re enjoying the time as a family, and with a new baby, Elke, in the dynamic it’s probably the right time to be isolated. That said, I am seriously missing the support and extra hands of family and friends at this time when there isn’t much sleep and when I need to have a moment of time out.
Like everyone we’re doing lots of cooking when we can (traditional foods such as homemade pasta, bread and big pretzels have been hot favourites), and trying out new recipes from new and old recipe books. We’re doing more home projects, too – lots of seedlings in our garden right now which is lovely to watch as they grow and a good way to step outside and soak in some fresh air and sunshine – vitamin D hits are essential!
Personally – I’ve realised just how much I actually need physical contact rather than virtual for communication and emotional connection. In the same breath, I’ve also realised I actually really am a home body too!
Professionally, I’ve learned there is only so much you can control, and despite all our hardship most are in the same boat as you so it’s a case of trusting the process and knowing that it won’t be forever.
I have a seven week old baby, Elke, and a 10 year old boy, Jet, so between looking after a tiny baby, homeschooling, managing the energy needs and outlets of a young boy, and some of my own consulting work there’s not much time left for entertainment! However, when there is that window it’s either doing something with my hands in the garden or creating with Jet – we’re loving online craft videos like making pom poms and small, relatively easy things like that.
When it’s time for complete couch time entertainment, I’ve been loving the series Unorthodox on Netflix and other docos like The Biggest Little Farm and 2040.
WHAT SHE’S SHOPPING ONLINE
Hand cream because all the hand washing leaves so little hydration in your skin – anything with rose is heavenly.
Online courses for learning whilst there is so much home time – currently doing a Fertility Masterclass online and I’m considering culinary genomics next. There are so many it’s hard to choose!
I’m loving my beautiful new Papinelle silk pyjamas, living in activewear from The Upside, and keeping casual in brands such as Assembly Label, knits from Steele and Viktoria Woods for winter and snugglier days. Also loving brands taking a sustainable approach such as Ceres Life and obviously investing in quite a lot of baby clothes and accessories again! We’ve just had our beautiful monogrammed baby bags arrive from Cub and Scout. To be honest, though, what’s keeping me feeling lovely each day as I dress is a little touch of jewellery and as I’m loving personalising things, I’ve just had a beautiful necklace made by Deer Ruby with my children’s initials on it.
Homewares have taken a little backseat for now as we are in baby mode, however food and cooking most definitely have not – we’ve just recently been introduced to a fantastic delivery service called The Good Bunch which donate a percentage from each sale of their produce to packing care hampers to deliver to healthcare workers, doctors and nurses across the country. A wonderful initiative which I think is just fantastic.
Supplements most definitely are high on the order list too – whilst I am feeding and in the 4th trimester, I’m taking pregnancy and breast feeding essentials – choline, probiotics, algae oil, and a zinc and C combination to ensure I am repleting nutrients that can commonly become deficient during this time.”