In the last month, I have noticed a bit of a boom in home cooking. Now that we found ourselves with a much reduced commute time from the bedroom to the makeshift office in the living room, home cooked meals have increased significantly. But what role are these meals playing? Are they a source of nutrition, a source of comfort, both or none?
It is great to see everyone experimenting with recipes they have long wished to try, and proudly posting their creations on social media. Perfecting artisan sourdough bread has been a project for many, and possibly the reason my local minimart now sells baker's flour in 20kg bags, rather than the usual 1kg.
I have also noticed that most of these recipes are a little bit special, and a little bit fancy. We have been eating like it's a long festive season - understandably, food fits like a glove when it comes to providing comfort and a sense that all is well in the world, particularly in times like this.
Lately however, I have started hearing the complaints. "My exercise levels have gone down significantly, both incidental and planned." "I miss my fresh vegetables!" "Can we just make 'normal' food again?" "This is not a sustainable way to eat, I don't even feel like dessert anymore."
There is a very interesting process in Intuitive Eating that we call the 'honeymoon period'. When we discuss unconditional permission to eat, where the goal is to do just that. Foods that have been denied for so long, can now be enjoyed judgement and guilt free. At first, fears about losing control, or never eating vegetables again pop out in our heads, calling us back to the safety of food rules. When the pleasure fizzles out and becomes commonplace, the pros and cons start to equalise. Self-care prevails, and we soon start to naturally bring those "less interesting, but healthy" foods back again. The ones that we see have more to give us than instant gratification: nutritional adequacy, strong gut health, less reflux, a heightened sense of energy and alertness, stronger bones, better recovery from exercise, the list goes on...
This restores your trust in your abilities to make food decisions that are in line with your goals and values. It takes away the need for micromanaging our hunger and appetite (We wrote about why meal plans don't work longterm here).
I think we're reaching the end of the honeymoon period on a large scale. We've done the baking, we've done the slow cooked ribs, we made pasta from scratch... now we want some normality back on our plates, and our lives. Give us some salads, some hearty soups and simple meals - I am sure you can do this, without bringing with it a feeling of deprivation.
The time for cooking and experimentation is still available, and you can turn this into an opportunity to really dial into your cooking and food preparation skills, increase your repertoire of healthy delicious meals, and implement a new habit that can be carried with you when life is once again carried on outdoors.
We are taking this journey as well, and for the next three weeks, will be providing helpful content on how to make the most of working from home: Setting boundaries between home and work life, trialling new and delicious recipes designed by our team of dietitians and chef, providing tips on how to keep your productivity high at home and offering personalised Nutrition Masterplans to guide your own meal creations.
We're in this together!