Listen to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy Podcast 🎧

Top Tips to Survive Lockdown and Look after your Immune System

Aug 05, 2021

Today on Coffee & Questions ☕️  I wanted to give you some simple, practical strategies to help you survive life in lockdown +/- kids and a few ideas to support your immune system.

We talked about:

  • Ideas to keep a regular food routine when everyone is stuck at home
  • My Weekly Menu Planning System that helps you plan dinners for the week and gives you your shopping list with recipe to follow
  • Ideas to keep moving! 👟
  • Eating the rainbow to support your immune system 🍆🍒🍊🍋🥝
  • 2 supplements that may be beneficial to help prevent colds and flu’s
  • How much sleep we actually need + tips to get better sleep 💤

Watch the replay for more info or read the transcript below...


If you need help mapping out your dinners each week - I've done all of the hard work for you!

Check out our Weekly Menu Planning Service HERE 👇

If you are looking for a Sports Dietitian to help you with training and racing nutrition, learn how you can work with me HERE


Good morning everyone and welcome to Coffee and Questions!

I have got a bit of a stuffed-up sinus today so hopefully, I don't sound too nasally. You always sound worse to yourself. You know because you can't hear and stuff as well.

So this morning on coffee and questions, if you have any questions to me as an advanced Sports Dietitian, please type them in. And I will endeavour to answer them for you in a way that make sense. My coffee hasn't kicked in yet. So by the end of today, I'll probably make a bit more sense than I do right now. But yes, if you've got a question for me pop it in. And what I wanted to talk to you today about was really just a few strategies to help you manage lockdown and home-schooling and eating properly. And I guess a bit of immune system eating at the moment as well. If you've got any questions, pop them in and let me know.

A couple of things that I wanted to talk to you about at the moment. So well, personally, I'm in Brisbane, and we're locked down. Which is, just fun. But Sydney has been locked down for quite a while Melbourne is out now. And other states are not currently locked down but have been. So I'd wanted to talk you through a couple of strategies to manage that again like I did it a year ago when everything sorts of first hit. Probably sort of March-April time. So a bit longer than a year ago now. But just some things to help you so that you don't have to struggle so much trying to figure out your nutrition in the current climate.

So a couple of things that really help me and help my clients is if you're stuck at home, and you're working from home, and that's not normal for you. Or you kind of lose your routine, if that sort of happens, is like one of my biggest tips is still pack a lunch box for the day. It could be like all your lunch and your snacks. It could be packing a water bottle and putting that on your desk for the day as well. But try and keep some sort of food routine by packing that lunch box. For you and if you've got kids, do the same like you'd have to pack it for school.

So try and do it for your home-schooling days as well. And that'll just mean that you might be bugged less by kids saying, “Mom, I'm hungry” in the middle of something. And also just helps keep a bit of food routine. Because I find when you're at home, and if you're not used to being at home all the time, if you're at home, and you've got free access to the cupboard, or the pantry or the fridge. Often people procrastinate by going to look for food. And what it was a term procrastinate snacking. And the other one is having lots of snack-cidents. Where you're bored, or you're stuck in a meeting or you've got a big thing that you have to do, but you use food as procrastination. And I find one strategy to tackle that is to actually pack a lunch box so that you know what you've got set for the day. So you've got your lunch ready prep the night before. I'll do it in the morning if you're up early. And just get a bit of structure and routine to that day. So hopefully that's one tip that helps. Particularly for kids that are at home, packing them like a school day lunch box is going to help one set them up with you know, similar sort of food choices and routines. But you don't have to stop your workday constantly to get snacks and get them lunch every time they kind of winch to you, that they're hungry.

The other sort of tip I have for you if you're stuck at home more, or you having to cook more because you know a lot of restaurants are closed, nobody's eating out much at the moment. You can still get takeaway. But you might find yourself just like a year ago that you're having to cook yourself at home a little more. And so one of the things that I launched last year was the Weekly Menu Plan. And here's one I prepared earlier.

It is a Dietitian Approved menu for the week. And that includes all of your dinners laid out for you. And then your shopping list to go and get everything that you need for that. So it just takes all that thought and the stress and effort having around having to try and figure out what you need to eat for the week. Like if you're not used to that, if you're somebody that maybe eat out a lot, or rely on someone else cooking your food all the time and you suddenly find yourself having to cook again, then something like this can be a really useful tool in your toolkit because I've done all that hard work for you.

There's certainly people that love to do meal planning and menu planning and things and there are people that hate it. Absolutely hate it. And so this is for you if you hate doing it. If you have no idea what to be eating, like trying to find some ideas, you can waste hours trying to figure out, like, find some recipes that look good, and then you buy all the stuff and then you cook it and then it tastes like crap. And so it's a waste of time, it's a waste of ingredients. And I don't know about you, but I hate eating cheap food. Particularly if you spent hours slaving away trying to make it. So have a look at the weekly menu plan. I'll pop the link in here after we're off. But I just kind of wanted to remind people of this as a really cool tool in your toolkit that could be useful for some people. So yes, dinners and shopping list. And then you get access to the recipe database as well which is it's over 120 recipes now that I've developed and I'm constantly adding to it. There's a whole range of stuff coming soon.

So that could be a good strategy if you are now at home more, having to cook more and have no idea what the frick to eat. So that's another thing that can help you just to try and keep a bit of structure and organisation to your days. Because there can be so easy to just go I'm just going to get overeats constantly. Particularly if you're not trying to go to the shops too often, or you know, this for us, we shop once a week like we do this. This is why it got developed because this is what we do. And we shop once a week. So it lowers your risk, I guess, of being out of the house more often than you need to not having to duck to the shops every day because you've forgotten something or you need, a couple of things to make something. It's all organised, it's planned, you've got everything there in the list shop once a week and then you don't have to go back to the shops again as well. So good, COVID safe, shopping plan.

Alright! The other sort of strategy for you if you are stuck at home and you're feeling a bit sorry for yourself is to make sure you are moving. Now we can get really kind of caught up in sitting in our desks. If you're the type of person that if you're given more time, you just work more, then you might find that you're pulling much longer days than before. Previously, we had our commute time, right? And that's a time to sort of like do some thinking on the way to work. And then also some decompression at the end of the day for your commute home. So your workday has got like these anchors on the way to work and anchors on the way home that kind of de-stress you or get you prepped for work for the day. And we've lost that if you suddenly at home.

So I'd encourage you to move so that you're not stuck sitting at your desk all day long working. As an example, my husband just pulls longer days now. Because his commute to work is less than 30 seconds. He's already on his emails before the day even started, but he's at his desk at 8 am and doesn't leave it until 5:30 pm like massive days. I think they're massive days. I don't find that I'm that effective for super long days like that. I don't know about you, but yeah, super, super long days. I don't think you get that much more done. So maybe set a reminder on your phone to beep a lot of the garments these days. If you sit down for too long, they beep at you and tell you to move, which is pretty cool.

So set something up like that as a bit of a reminder to just get you up from your desk constantly. And instead of just going to the fridge to have a look like even go for a quick lap around your block or something. Get the blood flow pumping. And that helps the blood flow to your brain. And then what I find is if you take a step away from the desk, you are actually more productive because it gives you a second to think and process, whatever you're mulling on. And a bit of blood flow to the brain actually might help you come up with some good ideas as well.

So for high performing workers, like people like loyal clients that I have, I will always encourage them to get out of the office at lunchtime. And do some of that thinking and processing while they walk around the block because you're going to be much more productive in the back end of the day if you do that. And you know gyms and stuff are close here in Brisbane at the moment, you can't go and do all those sorts of things. You can't swim in a pool for the triathlete, so you are a bit more limited. So setting up like a wind trainer, some people have treadmills these days, which is pretty cool, or going to do, you know runs around the block. If you're in Brisbane, keep within your 10k radius, please don't break the rules. I saw one of my clients did a 70k ride the other day within 10k to his house. He just went up and down the foreshore like Cleveland. Mainly that sort of way.

So there's ways around it and ways to do it. Don't be a dick about it just yet. Stick within your 10k radius. And just make sure you are moving every day. Even if it's going for walks around the block. So be kind to yourself. Don't feel like you've got to keep up with your normal training regime and normal pattern if that's just too much of a struggle. Be kind to yourself and maybe drop back to easy runs or just walk around the block. But do something to make sure you're moving because it's going to be so much better for your overall health and your mental health. And every time you exercise, you actually release your immune cells into the system. So it's good for your immune system to be moving even if it's just a brisk walk.

Alright. My other tip for you if you are not feeling great, like I am not feeling great currently, is to try and make sure you are eating the rainbow at the moment. So try and get your 2 serves of fruit, 5 serves of veggies every single day. And that is going to make sure you get a huge range of all the vitamins and minerals to help support your immune system. But you should be doing that for general health anyway. We know that a lot of our immune system comes from our gut. And so we want to make sure we're feeding our gut microbes, all that delicious fibre and prebiotics that they love to help with that immune response as well.

If you look at if you want to take something like a probiotic, I think I mentioned might have mentioned it last week or the week before to Bec but this is the probiotic that I talked about. It's a Swiss one, it's called Daily Immune Probiotic and there’s particular strains in here that have a little bit of research around them that helped reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections. So you can take it on a daily basis sort of prophylactically or the first signs of getting a cold or flu as well to start smashing it. But ideally, I think the research is just off the top of my head, I think you need to be taking it a couple of weeks before at least 2 weeks. It doesn't say on here, actually. But I think it might be two to four weeks before because we used it for the Olympics back in Rio.

So something like that could be useful. So I'm taking that every day and have been for a couple of months because my immune system has not been great with everyone being sick lately. So there's that one, I'll try and bring it up close here and here. And the other one, the other evidence around supplementation is Zinc and Vitamin C. So this is another product not sponsored by Swiss at all. And they're both Swiss. Any anything similar to this you could do. I'm pretty sure in a health class do one similar now in health class needs the fridge, this is a fridge free one. So that's why we used it for you because it's good for travel. And this is the other thing that you could do if you are feeling under the weather is start smashing zinc and vitamin C.

So you don't need this product in particular, but it has got the right amount of zinc and vitamin C in it. And it's the getting onto that early to help reduce the severity and duration of colds and flu. So there's a little bit of evidence around that as well. So there are two things that I'm doing at the moment. Because I'm sick of everyone around me being sick. Just want everyone to be well, again. So that's another couple of there are another couple of things. I think we might have talked about them a couple of weeks ago. So I wanted to just show you what they looked like because they do change their labelling all the time as well. So it's hard to keep up with what they're called and what they look like.

Alright, if there are any questions, pop them in the chatbox if you have any questions. I think the last strategy that I wanted to talk to you about which are always bang on about is getting enough sleep. So as humans, we actually need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. And I often get people that tell me they survive on like 4 or 5 hours. And you know, you might feel like that works for you. And you might, you know, be able to function. But our body needs much more than that. And it's probably just that you've trained yourself into tolerating that amount of sleep when really we need more like 7 to 9. So I'm a 9-hour sleeper. I don't feel good on anything less, which is really hard to fit into the day, it's actually really hard to fit 9-hours into a day. And I'm not going to lie, I probably don't get 9-hours of quality sleep at the moment and have for a little while now, which is probably why everyone keeps getting sick. But it's understanding what type of sleeper you are and what your sweet spot is.

So if you don't sleep for 7 hours a night, I would encourage you to try and slowly build your way up to sleeping 7 hours a night, “Carly, you're on here, do you sleep 7 hours yet? It's one of the things we've talked about in the past” Carly was what, 6 ½ hours sleeper. And we were trying to push her sleep up.

Because it's really important for our overall health, and our immune system. But also sleep is our ultimate form of recovery as an active person. It trumps everything else. So if you're not getting enough sleep, then chances are you're under-recovery. And we only get fitter and faster and better from the training that we recover from, and we adapt from. So if you're finding that you are starting to get tired and fatigued, and you don't think it's a missing nutritional link, then maybe sleep could be a factor in that.

So I would look at your sleep and have a look at the total number of hours of sleep quality is like and implement some strategies to actually improve that sleep quality. There's a few nutritional things that you can do. But a lot of it is also just sleep hygiene, making sure your environment is good having a look at your sleep wind down sort of this segment of your evening. So what's happening in a couple of hours before you go to sleep to improve your overall sleep time and sleep quality. So I really encourage you if you're not getting 7 hours to try and work your way to get that. And you know if you're not used to that if you're 5 hours sleep, and that's going to that's a long way away. So you might want to do that over a few months.

To start tracking your sleep to start with. There's some really cool sleep tracking apps now that measure a whole lot of stuff. So the one that I use personally is called sleep cycle. I am pretty sure I'm in the paid version. I've been on the paid version for a long time. But it tracks your overall sleep time. Like you turn it on, it's my alarm, and structure quality as well. So you can see when you're awake and when you're in really deep sleep and when you're in light sleep. So you can have a look at what your sleep efficiency is like as well. There's a few other things within the app that are useful like there's a wind-down time and you can get music and stuff to play through that if you wanted to. What I also like about it is that it has a sleep-wake up like range. I don't know what the right word is. But it's got a range where you can set your range for being woken up for as long as you want. But it could be like a 10-minute window that you want to wake up in or a 30-minute window that you want to wake up in and it'll wake you up when you are in your light phase of sleep, rather than a really deep, deep phase of sleep.

So you know when you feel tired and zonked for the day after you've just woken up sometimes it's because you've woken up in a really deep phase of sleep. So it's really useful to help you wake up when you're in a bit of a lighter phase. And then you're more likely to feel fresh and refreshed for the day to be waking up in that lighter phase of sleep. So I find that really useful. And that might be something to have a look at, too. If you need help with your sleep hygiene, want to have an understanding of how long you sleep and what your sleep quality is like to try and improve that because it has a huge range of health benefits by getting good quality sleep.

Alright, cool! So there was a sort of things my top tips that I want to talk about today just for helping you if you're stuck at home, in isolation with kids, and just to help keep a bit of a healthier sort of food and exercise rhythm. Rather than falling into a hole and giving up, I'd encourage you to put a few things in place to help with some sort of normality in what is not a very normal time. So if there is no questions, I am going to jump off and rest my voice because it is struggling. So thanks for joining me this week. Please let me know if there's anything you want me to cover and I will see you next week!

Goodbye, everyone!


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