What should I be eating during lockdown to stay healthy?

Chocolate Oat Protein Balls (V)

Today we have a topical piece from Not Just A Pretty Face ambassador Elly Cowley who is a qualified nutrition coach (BTN Practical Academy). Read below for some nutrition tips for staying healthy during the lockdown.


Hand's up who is struggling a little right now? 

Lockdown has got many of us feeling a little crazy - our routines have changed, our habits are threatened and we've been thrown into a situation where there are so many unknowns. And human beings generally fear the unknown by default! Social media is flooded with videos, images and stories of people who are being productive and making the most out of their situations. While finding a productive way to pass the time is without a doubt fantastic, I'm sure many of us can't help feeling a bit... useless? Even a seemingly simple thing like choosing something for dinner can feel stressful.

Bottom line is, there is no right or wrong way to think and feel at the moment. This is a brand new situation, and currently as it stands no one knows how long this will affect us and to what extent. We are all re-learning how to live in many ways.

All we can do is focus on what we CAN control, adapt as best we can and forgive ourselves if things don't work out right away. Hell this applies all the time, in or out of lockdown. 

I am a Nutritionist; food is what I do and this is what I can control. So today I am offering a few suggestions for navigating some nutrition hurdles you might be facing at the moment.


A common problem for those working from home, or who have easy access to a kitchen. This could be for a number of reasons - boredom, proximity, peer pressure to name a few.


Willpower may come into it but that only lasts so long. Success comes from having a plan in place and a support system to keep you in check.

- Avoid working from the kitchen

- Buy treat items in smaller quantities

- Make it harder to access tempting foods (place them up high or hide them - out of sight, out of mind)

- Ask your housemates/family not to offer you anything unless it's fruit

- Plan your snacks, and make them tasty


Many of us now have more time to dedicate to food preparation, but we may be feeling extra pressure now, especially as we are not encouraged to take multiple trips to the shops and some ingredients may not be in stock.


Now is perhaps a great time to learn how to cook - even a few simple dishes could make your life easier. Food prep isn't just for normal busy life. By filling the fridge and freezer with ready made nutritious meals you are more likely to eat well on days when you can't decide, or don't fancy cooking.

My advice is to write down a few ideas for meals to try and create a shopping list in the order that you'll find them in the supermarket. Struggle for ideas? The internet is your friend. Think of your favourite takeaway meal, now hop online and search for a 'healthier' version e.g.

- Pizza: use a tortilla for a base

- Curry: a chicken marinade with reduced fat coconut milk and served with      greens

- Chocolate: brownies are super easy, and adding some protein powder can keep these more balanced

 If in doubt fill half your plate with veggies, choose a protein source such as meat, fish or tofu, then choose your flavours and an optional carb source such as potatoes, rice or grains.

Variety is key here to get all the micronutrients in. Different coloured fruit/vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals, which is where the term eat the rainbow came from. This will help keep your immune system functioning well, as well as make you feel good.

Try a new cookbook - my new ebook 'Food Made Simple' is a collection of recipes designed to keep you inspired and enjoying healthy food. Scroll to the bottom for an example recipe:

Food Made Simple Nutrition Cookbook by Elly Cowley


 The reality of moving less is that our bodies do not need as many calories to maintain our weight.


Don't panic - you're unlikely to wake up one morning and be fat! While you may need to reduce how much you are eating if you are less active, there are ways we can mitigate this.

Set movement goals: a bit of accountability goes a long way. Set a challenge to walk 10k steps per day. Or join an existing challenge - there are tons on Strava, Fitbit and MyFitnessPal for example.

Track your daily intake: recording a food diary is one way of knowing whether you are under or over eating. If you are not sure how much you should eat it may be worthwhile speaking to someone in a position to advise you.

Hiring a coach: the majority of nutrition coaches are currently working online to serve their clients. Now is a great time to focus on your nutrition and be accountable to someone!


As a thank you for reading, here is one of my favourite recipes taken from my ebook 'Food Made Simple':

Chocolate Oat Protein Balls Recipe by Elly Cowley

To access this recipe plus many others, head to www.ellycowley.co.uk where you'll find my eBook, more recipes, nutrition tips and information about coaching.

Written by Elly Cowley,
Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach and CF-L1 Trainer
Reebok CrossFit Tyneside

Elly Cowley PT Nutrition Coach

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