Food for thought – has how we eat changed forever?Featured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 2nd June 2021
During the national lockdowns, we spent a lot of time thinking about food. Whether it was enjoying the novelty of homemade lunches or sweet treats after a stressful home-schooling session, many of us focused on meals and snacks as a way to provide structure to the strangest of days.
We cooked more, but we ordered more takeaways too. One well-known pizza delivery company has seen such a boom in business – and its profits – as a result of the pandemic, that it plans to open a further 200 outlets.[i]
Perhaps the lockdowns motivated you to overhaul your lifestyle, including more healthy eating. Or maybe you put on weight as a result of the crisis and, with hope now on the horizon, you’re determined to get back into shape.
Since the pandemic, millions of households across the UK will be on a tighter budget which could impact on both what and how they eat. Before Covid, we had seen an upward trend in child food poverty and with 1.4 million children in England alone claiming free school meals, the struggle faced by low-income families when schools were closed received national coverage.[ii] Demand for food banks has also surged in the last year; again, we had seen worrying numbers pre-pandemic. Between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, so just a week into the first national lockdown, one food bank network recorded the distribution of 1.9 million emergency parcels to people in need.[iii]
Change, or accelerated change?
When we’re considering if the pandemic will lead to lasting change, there is evidence to suggest that, for some behaviours/attitudes around food and food consumerism, it hastened the pace, rather than providing a catalyst for any change.
There has been a growing interest in food welfare over the last decade, for example. Choosing organic and making considered, ethical choices when buying meat or fish are two areas where we have seen behaviours/attitudes alter for some time, and this appears to have accelerated. The organic food and drink market saw a 12.6% growth in 2020; organic farming methods are generally considered better for the environment, so, along with improving health, this could be part of the reason for the increase.[iv]
Plant-based eating is another modern food trend that predates and was boosted by the pandemic. Veganuary – when people are encouraged to try out a vegan or vegetarian diet for a month – has seen its popularity soar in recent years and in 2021, nearly 600,000 people took part in the UK, more than ever before.[v] Also, research at the end of 2020 indicated that the main change people were making to their diets was to include more fruit and veg; Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the UK, announced that its shoppers are “buying more vegetables, fruit and salad than at any point in the last 20 years”.[vi]
Better habits, encourage balance
So, we’re looking at a combination of trends – a desire for a healthier lifestyle, more ethical/sustainable consumerism, alongside an awareness of how important nutrition is for all-round wellbeing. All of these may have been accelerated by the pandemic, as people used the time to review their behaviours/attitudes to food, to look and feel better, boost their immunity and in some cases, lose weight.[vii]
We must recognise the conflicting behaviours/attitudes, though, the main one being how certain foods were used to reward – and who didn’t need a treat or two in such challenging times? We’ve covered how we ate more takeaways, but all comfort food in general tends to be sweet and/or high fat. A note should be added about alcohol, too and how a glass of wine would punctuate the end of the day when lines between “work” and “home” were blurry.
The trick is taking steps to find balance – and none of your patients should feel guilty about enjoying a little of what they fancy if it genuinely makes them feel good. Talk with them about all the components of a truly healthy diet, about everyday exercise and lifestyle choices and how to elevate their oral hygiene routine to remove optimal bacteria, to mitigate the damage caused by harmful acids found in certain foods and drinks. More effective cleaning is simple to achieve with the right tools and techniques. Leading oral healthcare specialist, Curaprox, offers a range of innovative solutions, including the Hydrosonic Easy electric toothbrush, which has a powerful hydrodynamic effect to deliver a thorough yet gentle clean to even hard-to-reach areas.
Everyone has their own unique relationship with food; it can be used to nourish, to treat, to underline a commitment to caring for the environment. Cooking a meal for someone can be considered an act of love – even if the only diner is you! With food often the focus of the long days at home, we must hope any positive changes are permanent, as people seek to take control of their wellbeing.
[i] Domino’s Pizza plans more outlets as Covid-19 lockdown fuels sales. Guardian, 9 March 2021. Link: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/mar/09/dominos-pizza-covid-19-lockdown-fuels-demand (accessed March 2021).
[ii] Covid: What free school meals are children supposed to get? BBC News, 14 January 2021. Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-53053337#:~:text=In%20England%2C%20about%201.4%20million,west%20of%20England%20(20.2%25). (accessed March 2021).
[iii] The Trussell Trust. End of year stats. Link: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/end-year-stats/ (accessed March 2021).
[iv] UK organic market hits highest growth in 15 years. LACA, The School Food People. 11 February 2021. Link https://www.laca.co.uk/news/uk-organic-market-hits-highest-growth-15-years (accessed March 2021).
[v] Almost 600,000 sign up for Veganuary 2021. The Grocer, 1 February 2021. Link: https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/plant-based/almost-600000-sign-up-for-veganuary-2021/652700.article#:~:text=Veganuary%20said%20a%20total%20of,of%20500%2C000%20signups%20for%202021. (accessed March 2021).
[vi] Brits are creating the highest demand for fruit and vegetables this century. Tesco PLC, 9 February 2021. Link: https://www.tescoplc.com/news/2021/fruit-and-veg-demand-at-its-highest-in-20-years/ (accessed March 2021).
[vii] How and why the pandemic is prompting consumers to make new food choices. The Grocer, 23 February 2021. Link https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/consumer-trends/how-and-why-the-pandemic-is-prompting-consumers-to-make-new-food-choices/653476.article (accessed March 2021).
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