Our priorities for health, nutrition and overall well-being have seen a radical shift: Covid has brought about increased preventative health awareness-raising, supermarket supply shortages and lockdown frustrations on one side and having extra time at home to prepare meals — often with fresher, locally-sourced ingredients — or regularly take more exercise on the other.
All of this has pushed health considerations up many people’s agendas. 54% of Americans surveyed by the International Food Information Council cared more about how healthy their food and beverages were in 2020 than in 2010, with health being a more important consideration than taste or price, Forbes reports. Globally, people have been cutting down on processed fast-food takeaways and upping their intake of home-cooked food, with more cereals and legumes.
Moving forward, we could see a move towards vitamin-rich, plant-based foods, and the creation of more health apps: People are already seeking out plant-based proteins and foods containing immunity-boosting Vitamin C, according to Forbes. And products are being developed to meet our new pandemic needs, like a PepsiCo drink intended to soothe consumers before sleep. Telehealth and telenutrition are increasing, and a wave of new tech innovations are helping customers verify product and ingredient claims or create tailored supplement programs to target their specific health needs.
But can we maintain our good habits? Amid pandemic disruption, many people have actually picked up better habits, including eating better, exercising more, getting more sleep, or having more chances to connect deeply with friends, according to the New York Times. How to maintain these habits in the long-term is the USD 1mn question. Advice from the Times? Be clear on your motivation, plan for potential obstacles, and make it easy to reintegrate your new habits into your old routine by being aware of what helped you form them in the first place.
The change needs to be long-term and holistic, say experts. The pandemic is forcing us to recognize that our lifestyles cause stress, anxiety and burnout, weakening our immune systems, says the Global Wellness Institute. This puts us at greater risk of chronic illnesses, and more vulnerable to covid-19. We can change course, but only by prioritizing a holistic change that addresses the problems, the GWI argues. This means recognizing that consumer choices are made within systems designed to maximize profit and efficiency — so our oh-so-convenient delivery apps keep us sedentary, transport options increase pollution and reduce mobility, and tech innovations can lead to greater loneliness as face-to-face communication lessens. The poor and marginalized are often most impacted.
But don’t make it another thing to add to endless to-do lists or beat yourself up about: Making changes at the individual, community, business and government levels are crucial, the GWI says. What matters is reframing success as being inextricably linked with physical and mental well-being — not just defining it in economic terms. But when it comes to applying positive changes long-term, don’t put yourself under pressure, allow some room for setbacks, and remember it can be better to carry on with a positive change imperfectly than not continue at all.