As consumers all around the world adjust to the new normal, many of us have adapted the way we shop for food and our eating patterns to compliment our changes in lifestyle. For some, this means experimenting with home cooking, new foods and sustainable practices. For others, this has resulted in an increase in online shopping, bulk buying and planned purchases.
A new study by EIT Food (2020) has found significant changes in European food behaviours since the world went into its first lockdown in March this year. 34% of respondents in the study lost some of or all of their income and 55% said they found it difficult to get by financially. Despite this, European consumers reported an increase in purchase in nearly every food category due to a greater amount of time spent in the home and less opportunities to eat out.
With increased health awareness amid the global pandemic and most meals now eaten in the home, it’s unsurprising that Brits have found more time to consume fresh fruit and vegetables, with consumption up over 30% compared with pre-Covid life. Despite this positive increase, Brits are snacking and consuming more alcohol than people in other European countries. The consumption of both convenience foods and alcohol have witnessed a 29% rise; snack consumption has witnessed a 34% rise.
Easy kitchen access has resulted in an increase in snacking throughout the day, whilst many have reached for the bottle more often than normal as a way of numbing any stress and anxieties. There are more effective ways of managing your snacking and any worries you may have:
- When reaching for a snack, make sure it has nutritional benefit. Try not to reach for an unhealthy chocolate bar or a bag of crisps – your body’s blood sugar levels will spike and you’ll find yourself in an unproductive afternoon slump.
- If you’re not hungry and just bored, avoid snacking for the sake of it, take a quick break from work and walk around the block. This works wonders.
- Lay off the excessive takeaways. We know, it’s no fun not being able to eat out at your favourite restaurant, but weekly takeaways are not good for anyone (or your bank balance). We’re not saying don’t do it, but stick to once a month for a healthy balance, or opt for healthier takeout choices such as sushi. You could even spice it up with a home 'fakeaway' night!
- Whilst drinking may seem like the answer, it’s important to find healthier ways of dealing with any worries. Dust off the exercise equipment, go for a walk, take advantage of online meditation classes and relax in a bubble bath at the end of the day.
- Track your drinking – this can help you to assess where you are now, and how much you’d like to reduce your consumption by. If you didn’t drink Monday to Thursday prior to lockdown, try and get back to this routine.
- Make your alcoholic drink a smaller one. Have a small glass of wine rather than a large one, have a small bottle of beer over a full pint. Low alcohol and alcohol-free alternatives are also great ways of reducing consumption and you can still enjoy the taste!
It’s been a hard year, and we’ve all found our ways to deal with things (healthy or not). Whilst some not-so-healthy coping strategies have developed for some, we can also see positive behavioural changes as a result of stay-at-home life. 35% of Europeans in EIT Food’s study were buying more local produce and 50% now consider their health to be of greater importance. Start making conscious decisions to be that little bit more healthier, but more importantly, be kind to yourself.