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How has lockdown affected your diet?

eating cheating days 2

Whether it’s meant working from home, the distinct lack of flour yeast and loo roll when doing your weekly shop, or simply the joy of living life a little slower over the past few months, the day to day has probably looked a little different lately for most of us.  

One key part of daily life that may have changed quite significantly since lockdown began are our habits when it comes to both cooking and eating our meals.  

From finding time to fit in breakfast before your daily morning video calls, to taking the time to experiment more with your meals, or simply sitting down as a family to eat the fruits of your labour, mealtimes may not be quite what they were previously. 

As such, the team here at Hammonds Kitchens wanted to find out more about how the nation’s eating habits have changed in recent months. We surveyed 2,000 UK adults to find out more.  

A treat a day… 

Recent data from the ONS highlighted that during lockdown, UK residents have spent an average of 1 hour and 23 minutes per day eating and drinking, and our food choices haven’t always been particularly healthy.   

In fact, almost a fifth of UK adults (16%), admitted to having “treat day every day since lockdown began, with 32% of Brits consuming more unhealthy calories than they usually did as part of their diet pre-lockdown (27%).   

But for those trying to keep their eating habits as close to normality as possible, are there certain days on which we’re most likely to cheat on our healthy eating regimes? 

Weekends are for dessert 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Saturday evening was found to be time we’re most likely to allow ourselves something naughty-but-nice, with the majority of Brits surveyed admitting this was when they tended to give in to temptation when it came to treats (30%), closely followed by Friday evening (23%). 

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Thursday afternoon was found to be when we harbour the most willpower, with just two per cent of Brits stating it was the most common time for them to have a “cheat day”. 

Balance is considered to be key when it comes to our diets, but our research found that, shockingly, one in ten (10%) of us never allow ourselves a cheat day, with almost double the amount men refusing to treat themselves than their female counterparts (13% vs.7%). 

So, when it comes to treats, what are the nations go-to’s in lockdown? 

The nation’s favourite   

From delicious takeaways and tempting desserts, to a glass of fizz on a Friday, it’s important to treat yourself every now and again, and we all have that one treat that we find harder to resist than the rest – but what is it? 

Taking the responses collated from our research, we created the UK’s god-tier list of go-to snacks during the lockdown.  

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Living up to its famous tagline, Dairy Milk is still going strong as the nation’s favourite, with a fifth (21%) of us choosing it as our number one snack since the restrictions came in. 

Other favourites include, Kettle Chips (17%), pizza (15%) Magnums (14%) and sausage rolls (13%), making up a varied array of snacks to supress those cravings…at least until Friday evening comes along.  

When it came to the snacks we’d rather give-a-miss, the much healthier hummus and crudités (3.2%) was found to be the least favourite snack across the UK. Other snacks joining hummus on the ‘no thanks’ pile were ice lollies such as FAB’s (3.4%), Scotch eggs (3.4%), oranges (4%) and millennial favourite, mac and cheese (4%). 

Controversially, despite much of the country hailing Cadbury’s Dairy Milk as their number one snack, Sheffield residents were instead opting for confectionary rival, Galaxy, with 27% voting it their go-to snack of Covid-19.  

Daring to be different, those living in the Northern city of Leeds were revealed to have been favouring both crumpets (how very Yorkshire) and pizza equally (24%) throughout the epidemic. 

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Good habits start at home  

Despite much of the nation turning to snacks to keep hunger at bay, the restrictions do seem to have had a positive influence on some of us.  

Our survey showed that a quarter of UK adults (25%) have been improving their cooking skills whilst spending more time at home, claiming they’ve become more adventurous in the kitchen since lockdown began and cooking more than they have done before.  

Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Coach, Lee Chambers, shared with us some of the positive effects cooking can have on us, especially when it comes to an unusual situation such as lockdown: 

“It is well researched that cooking has some psychological benefits, including positively influencing mood through several different pathways.” 

“Cooking anchors us in the present moment and provides us with a welcome relief from everyday anxieties because it requires us to put our focus and attention into cooking instead, moving our attention away from feelings, and directing it towards the food. In turn, all our senses are engaging, the smell of the spices, the textures we prepare, the sound of chopping and sizzling, the colours of our ingredients, and finally the taste of our creation. It is rare to get such a full sensory experience in an urban environment. 

 “Cooking isn't just for our senses, however. We have the satisfaction of preparing food for others, seeing their faces as they consume our creation. We can be creative and use our self-expression to present dishes in our own authentic way, and cooking is becoming more common as a projection activity that can be used as a form of therapy. Mixing flavours in a dish is similar to mixing paints on canvas, for example, and requires little investment” 

“The smells produced when we cook can trigger nostalgia of happy times, experiences and people, comforting us in challenging climates. And in the kitchen, cooking with family fosters a high level of connection as everyone plays their part in creating a family feast. Add to this, the outcome of cooking is immediate, a reward that is ready to eat. And it is a skill that can be practised and improved, boosting our confidence as we can tackle more challenging recipes.” 

“Finally, cooking from scratch often results in delicious and nutritious meals, which not only nourish our bodies but also nourish our minds. Given how pivotal the enteric nervous system in our gut is in effecting our overall mood, the benefits of cooking can be amplified by eating your creations!” 

Counting more than just the calories 

And as well as boosting their flair for cooking, there have been positive on other elements of their lives too.  

A fifth (22%) of UK adults happily shared that despite an increase in cooking at home, they have spent the same amount of money on their monthly food bill per person as they did prior to the restrictions.  

Even more encouragingly, a further ten percent have actually saved around £30 per head on food each month, showing us that fine dining doesn’t have to cost the earth.  

 

Do you agree with the snacks that made it into our god-tier? Have you experimented more with food since lock down? We’d love to hear your thoughts and see any photos you might have of your favourite new food creations, so feel free to get in touch with us via our Twitter page.  

 

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