Suzanne Leyden, qualified nutrition, health and wellness coach and owner of The WellNow Co outlines five ways you can improve your family’s health.

Silver linings are few and far between at the moment. We all now know first hand how hard living through a pandemic is. And while the pressures are very individual, nobody has escaped some form of hardship. However, the silver linings may be the best prize we get out of the situation. 

What is undeniably true, is that the pandemic has given us the opportunity and the time to focus on ourselves and our family, enjoy the outdoors and nature more and to put in place the necessary routines to ensure that we come out of this in a healthier and happier place. So, let’s grab that silver lining and run with it.

1. Review your eating habits
While many of us are at home trying to work and homeschool, feeling like we are not nailing either, it can be a great time to look inward at our family’s eating habits.

Increasing awareness around what we eat, how much we eat and when we eat it can be really helpful to improving our families’ health through nutrition.

Keep a food diary over a few days with as much detail as possible and be as honest as you can. Then review it and see where you can cut back or change anything.

Some things to look for:

  1. Are you eating enough fruit and veg? Don’t worry, most people don’t. So consider where you can squeeze in a few more portions each day.
  2. Nearly everyone puts the blinkers on around their snack consumption. Be really honest about what you’ve eaten each day – yes, that third biscuit counts! You may need to look at decreasing sugary treats.
  3. From a health, environmental and cost perspective many of us need to consider reducing the amount of meat we eat (if you’re not vegan or vegetarian). Think about eating more plant based foods or vegetarian options.
  4. Fibre is such an important aspect of our gut health and the western diet is naturally low in it. Increase fibre by replacing white with brown – bread/rice/pasta
  5. Hydrate – It’s difficult to remember to keep our water intake at the optimum level regardless of time of year. Use a water bottle and fill it at the start of the day, and refill it throughout the day until you have reached your goal of approximately 2 litres.

2. Delve into your nutrition-related pain points
Fussy eaters, food waste, and overspending on food? You are not alone if you find yourself whipping up two or three dinners for just one sitting in order to accommodate the different (fussy!) palates. Very often our children reject foods and we take the path of least resistance as we pick our battles carefully!

Not only is this not sustainable for the busy working parent who is already stretched to their limits, but it’s not helping our child develop tastes and interests in other foods. It is also a huge source of food waste, and with food waste, there is money waste also.

Now is the time to help your kids really understand why we should eat a certain way and what the benefits to them are. Let them create a plan for their lunch during the week, which they can keep doing when they go back to school. Empowering them is rewarded with buy-in from them. Broadening their food horizons is good for their health, your time, your wallet and the environment.

3. Take the time for a household audit
Scrambling from week to week is no way to live. Most of us would like a calmer life to allow us to enjoy ourselves more and feel optimally productive. A really effective approach to improving how you run your home is to do a 'Household Audit’.

Three effective ways to make your household more efficient are:

  1.  Look at your household budget to help you to optimally understand and refine your spending. 
  2.  Meal planning and shopping list templates will help you reduce costs, waste and trips to the shops.
  3.  A review of your household cleaning and personal care products will allow for clarity. Should you buy certain products in bulk, reducing waste and costs. Could you look at buying a more environmentally clean product which is better for you personally but also the planet.


4. Think it, plan it, do it!
Each and every choice we make for ourselves has an impact on our health and how we feel. Some habits we know we want to change. Becoming aware of what we would like our life to ultimately look like and deciding what it will take to get there will help inform what new habits we want to form, and what old ones we want to lose.

Whether stress is a big factor in your life, or whether you want to increase your exercise and movement, or if poor sleep is impacting your life or your work/life balance is out of whack, establishing clear goals is critical to succeeding with positive behaviour change. 

5. Find your pot of gold
The silver linings may end up being your pot of gold when the pandemic finally ends. Taking a simple approach with small steps of change we can look at our lives in terms of nutrition, lifestyle and how we want to change them. Tap into your positive thoughts to make it happen.