A nutritionist’s lockdown routine | Sophie Pelling

A nutritionist’s lockdown routine | Sophie Pelling

I’m an early riser. Not one of those enviable, super-efficient types that gets up at 5am and runs a 10k before work (we all know that person) but I do like the feeling of being ahead of my day. I also have an easterly-facing bedroom, so don’t have much choice when the sun is blasting through my window! I know I shouldn’t, but the first thing I do is reach for my phone. Not to start the aimless scroll through social media but just to check there haven’t been any night-time emergencies or new global disasters to deal with.

I like starting my day with some VERY gentle yoga, we could probably call it stretching but yoga sounds more zen. I’m blessed with being as supple as a plank of wood so being predominantly sedentary at the moment is making my hamstrings tighter than normal. This routine helps to wake my muscles up a little and I’ll alternate my “yoga” with doing 10 minutes of guided meditation to clear any negative thoughts from my mind and set my positive intentions for the day. I find this is really important to motivate myself and make sure I get things done.  

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I’m a huge breakfast person. I can’t begin to function like an adult without it and quite honestly I often feel a bit nauseous until I’ve had my first cup of builder’s tea (before you start speculating, no I’m not pregnant and yes I drink caffeine even though I’m a nutritionist!).

Since I have more time at the moment, I love making porridge and switching up the toppings each morning to keep things interesting.

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Porridge contains oats which are a complex carbohydrate and have to be broken down to their simple form to be absorbed, this means that digestion and energy release is slow.

Oats are also a good source of protein, fat and other nutrients such as magnesium, iron and B vitamins, all of which support energy production in the body. Making your porridge with milk rather than water will increase the fat and protein content, so it's a good option to fill you up for even longer.

It's also high in fibre, notably containing a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan which is known to reduce cholesterol levels. Fibre also helps to keep things moving in your gut, and so eating porridge regularly can help to relieve constipation.

Oats are also rich in antioxidants, specifically avenanthramides, which can reduce oxidative stress in the body by neutralising free radicals. There is even evidence that these molecules may help to lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels.

Finally, porridge for breakfast provides a wonderful base to add other nutritious foods to. I usually go for some dark coloured berries which are loaded with antioxidant polyphenols called anthocyanins. Flax and chia seeds are another great addition and will help to increase your dietary intake of omega 3, which is important for cognitive function, mood, skin and heart health to name a few.

I might make a smoothie instead, always using a base of greens and a banana, followed by whatever fruit/veg is in my freezer. Many people don’t realise that frozen fruit and vegetables are nutritionally just as good as their fresh counterparts (and sometimes better if you’re like me and let fresh produce sit at the bottom of the fridge for too long).

I then take some time to do a bit of self-care. I suffer with ultra-dry skin, so my routine involves exfoliating and moisturising from head to toe. Since lockdown I’ve also implemented a new facial skincare routine, which I’ve already started to notice has improved the clarity of my skin by reducing redness and tightening my pores. Yay!

“Studies have shown that just 120 minutes a week of being outdoors can reduce your stress levels by 30%.”

If it’s a weekday, it’s time to do a bit of work. For me, this means juggling my nutrition with working for a large travel brand. It can be a difficult balancing act between the two but I’m lucky my employer supports my nutrition work which allows me to do both.

I have a dog and my lunchtime is usually quite a speedy food affair because my priority is generally to get outside with him. I’m a massive advocate for spending time in nature. Studies have shown that just 120 minutes a week of being outdoors can reduce your stress levels by 30%, so this is something I make sure I do every day to support my mental health.

If it’s the weekend, I’ll usually spend the afternoon doing something productive so I feel like I’ve done something useful with my day despite being stuck in my flat. I’m a big fan of continuous learning and since qualifying as a nutritionist I spend a lot of time online researching my favourite topics or watching webinars (wild, I know!). Every once in a while, to completely switch off, I’m partial to a little PlayStation gaming…

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As the evening draws in, my husband and I will listen to some music and cook together (I will cook dinner while my husband plays DJ). It’s always something homemade (unless it’s pizza night) and if it’s the weekend it always involves an alcoholic drink of some kind. I absolutely love cooking a spicy Thai green curry from scratch, along with a glass of chilled Riesling (oh and of course the obligatory prawn crackers).

After we’ve eaten, our Saturday night tends to go one of a few ways at the moment but usually starts off with a zoom quiz with friends or family. We also tried family bingo over zoom recently which was quite a fun alternative to coming last place in a quiz!

Before heading to bed at around 11pm, I’ll do my new evening skincare regime which takes about 15 mins, so I hope it lasts once we’re out of lockdown! I’ll always try and do a little gratitude practice while I’m doing this, I think this helps to put life into perspective. I don’t write this in a diary, I just think of 2 or 3 things I’m thankful for, either from that day or more generally. I then head to bed and get my 8 hours in which is non-negotiable, unless of course you want to meet a monster the next day. 

Sophie Pelling is a London-based registered nutritionist who focusses on working with corporate clients and their employees. Her primary goal is to create sustainable practices for her clients to improve their health and achieve optimum performance. She is currently operating virtually, and you can get in touch on her website: www.SophiePellingNutrition.com or via Instagram: @sophiepellingnutrition

By Liv Evans

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