Even before COVID-19, mental health awareness was an important issue but the rise of the pandemic and the changes we have been forced to make to the way we live, have made mental health awareness an even bigger concern.
Many of us recognise that; having plenty of sleep, regular exercise, social interactions and eating healthy food all help when it comes to staying happy and healthy. The recent lockdown and the need to socially distance have made it difficult to do these activities, and therefore harder to stay physically and mentally healthy!
Food habits during COVID-19
At the beginning of the year, panic buying meant that some foods and ingredients were in short supply, but this was short-lived. One of the biggest changes over the last 4 or 5 months has been in the way we shop for food and what we eat.
Whilst it’s clear that more people are opting to have food delivered and therefore buying online, the question of whether we’re eating more healthily (or not!) is somewhat confused. According to research*, there has been an increase in healthy eating to help protect our immune system but at the same time, there has been an increase in the sales of comfort foods, such as chocolates and snacks.
This latter statistic should be of concern. As a nation, Britain has always been a big consumer of unhealthy foods and there have been various reports over the years about growing obesity levels. While COVID has arguably increased the need to eat healthily, this is by no means a new message for UK residents. It has been the case for a while now, that we need to increase the amount of healthy foods we consume as a population versus unhealthy foods.
The benefits of healthy eating
Eating healthy foods and watching how much we eat has many benefits. Under normal circumstances (without Coronavirus), healthy eating helps to prevent illnesses, and can increase life expectancy, making us generally feel good about ourselves. When dealing with the threat of Coronavirus, eating healthily will provide two major benefits:
- The first benefit is that it helps to improve our immune system and protects us from the virus. Whilst there is no guarantee of being protected, there is evidence that people with underlying health issues are at greater risk. Preventing serious illnesses, such as coronary disease or diabetes for example, through eating a healthy balanced diet can therefore improve the chances of surviving COVID 19.
- The second benefit is that it improves our mental health, and this also helps protect us. Good mental health means being less stressed and tired, and results in our immune system being stronger.
So, are we what we eat?
Without a doubt, healthy eating can improve how we feel and how we behave or react to situations, affecting our happiness and overall mental health. It isn’t in itself a guarantee. Regardless of eating healthily, there is still a risk of developing a long-term illness or catching a virus. What we eat is only one of the elements needed for a healthy lifestyle, with regular exercise having equal importance. Our food however provides the fuel, and if the quality of the fuel is inferior, it will have a negative impact on our lives.
You, and your customers
At Ramsay Todd, we are passionate about healthy food and promoting positive mental health.
Providing customers with options that are good for them is a great way to build your brand and make a difference to the wider community. As well as looking after yourself and your staff, make sure you help customers by promoting healthy food options where possible.
We would love to hear your story about what you are offering to help promote mental health awareness and a healthy lifestyle, especially in the current climate. Feel free to get in touch to share your experience or to get advice on how to adapt your catering business in the current climate.
Stay safe, stay healthy and promote mental health awareness!
Contact our Food Service Consultants here at Ramsay Todd to help you further.