The coronavirus crisis has changed all aspects of all life, but it appears there may be some positive benefits emerging for our health.
A new UK survey by nutrition tracking app here asked more than 3,000 UK adults about how their shopping, eating and exercise habits had changed over the past seven weeks.
Said Rachel Hartley, business development director: “Our lives have been turned upside down, yet our survey findings point to some positive changes.
“It’s like we’ve taken a step back in time - we are buying more fresh food, cooking based on what’s available on the shelves, and wasting less.
“This behaviour change has the potential for a knock-on effect long term. It tackles some of the big issues we’ve faced before. If people embrace these changes and keep going when we come out of lockdown, there’s a chance for positive lifestyle and health improvements in the future.”
The results focus on three key areas ...
Food shopping and buying behaviour
57 per cent are less bothered about buying branded products.
27 per cent are buying more fruit and veg.
46 per cent are buying more fresh, unpackaged foods.
“One of the biggest changes is our attitude towards branded goods; a big factor may be availability, but if people have found alternatives are perfectly acceptable (and most likely cheaper), they may be less bothered about buying branded goods in the future.”
64 per cent say they are wasting less food.
One third are cooking more.
56 per cent have had no takeaways.
14 per cent are drinking less.
“Our survey found that nearly two thirds of participants are wasting less food. Food availability and less frequent shopping trips are likely to be factors, but it’s a win for the environment - and for people’s pockets too.
“Hopefully people’s attitudes towards throwing away food too casually are changing.”
There has been a revival in home-cooking. Probably not surprising that with more time available, many people are spending it in the kitchen. Linked to the increased purchase of fresh, unpackaged foods, it points to less reliance on convenience foods.
Takeaways have taken a back seat - pizza is first choice for those who have indulged.
This is a big change. Pre-lockdown, a quarter of our daily calories were typically from food and drink consumed outside of the home. So an observation here is that people are currently having more control over what is going into the meals they are eating.
Snacking, not surprisingly, has been a challenge for around half of respondents.
Around 40 per cent are working from home - comparable with the government statistic of 45 per cent - physical proximity to food may play a part, but emotional factors cannot be underestimated. In terms of snack preference, the survey found an even split between sweet and savoury.
Exercise and weight
43 per cent are using their ‘exercise hour’ outside and 33 per cent say they are more active than before lockdown.
42 per cent have tried an online workout ... and 30 per cent are keeping it up!
One third are keeping their weight in check.
“Our survey found that a third of participants are more active now than before lockdown. This indicates people are putting their extra time to good use to maintain their fitness or maybe start an exercise routine.
“The recent good weather has clearly played a part, allowing people to get outside for the allowed one session of exercise a day - with 43 per cent taking advantage of this every day and 32 per cent most days. Just getting out of the house, is so important for mental wellbeing as well as fitness.”
Online exercise has taken off in a big way, and people seem to have embraced this new way of keeping fit. Despite restrictions, a third said they are managing to keep their weight in check.
While lives have definitely been turned upside down, the impact on our eating and exercise behaviours has not been all bad.
Buying fresh produce and less convenience foods, more home cooking and incorporating daily exercise - are all positive shifts toward a healthier lifestyle.