No single food or meal will make you healthy or unhealthy. There is no magic food or pill. Health is a factor of the long-term cumulative effects of making better dietary choices. Put more simply, what you do most of the time will have the greatest effect on your health for life.

During lockdown many business owners came to me seeking help, as their energy waned and their jeans got tighter. Lockdown was a particularly difficult time for lots of people as routine and habits changed. Another issue many struggled with was the lack of time they had in their busy schedules as they tried to get work done while homeschooling the kids.

It became apparent that many people needed to focus on creating sustainable habits. As they didn’t have the time for a complete overhaul of their diet they needed to know what changes they could make to their existing food that would bring the biggest difference.

These were five of the habit changes that I recommended to people during lockdown but are a good maxim for health at all times.

1. Include healthy fats in your diet

Dietary fat has received a bad rap in the past and often when people think about getting healthy it is the first food that they look to remove. However, fat has many benefits. It is involved in the production of hormones, it aids the absorption of certain vitamins and it helps to maintain a healthy immune system.

For these reasons, I like to include some fats daily. What you need to realise is that the benefits come from including what we class as the ‘good’ fats.

Examples of foods that fall into this category would be nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, oily fish (eg salmon and mackerel)

2. Include protein at all meals

Protein, in my opinion, is the most important macronutrient. It is vital for a healthy body and has lots of other benefits too, such as maintaining muscle mass, promoting healthy skin and hair, keeping us feeling full and for this instance it is also necessary for a healthy immune system.

Examples of foods that fall into this group are lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, quorn, beans and lentils.

3. Include vegetables at all meals

When we consider optimal health it is impossible to avoid micronutrients, or what we know as vitamins and minerals. A deficiency in vitamins and minerals is seen as a form of malnutrition.

These micronutrients are necessary for a whole host of functions in the body, including maintaining a healthy immune system. Different micronutrients have different roles and this is why it is important to get a good variety of different types.

Eating a diversity of colours and types of vegetables is the best way to ensure you are getting all the nutrients that you require for optimal health.

4. Cook in batch

When time is limited consider cooking enough food at a time to cover two meals. This means that one meal will be very quick as the food will just have to be warmed. Some meals suit this sort of cooking better than others, for example, curries or stews.

5. Plan your meals

Each day we make thousands of decisions, think about all you have made so far today! By the time it comes to deciding what is for dinner we are wrecked and often suffering from decision fatigue. This is when many will grab the quickest, easiest thing available or maybe call for a takeout.

If you could spend 20 minutes on a Sunday just listing the meals you will have during the week can you imagine the sense of relief you would feel each evening. When you get the dreaded ‘What’s for dinner, Mam?’ you’d be easily able to answer as you have it written down.

Now more than ever our underlying health needs to be our principal focus. Improving your health can mean improved energy, increased productivity, reduced stress and the greatest at the moment — an improved immune system. We must be mindful not to become overwhelmed by trying to change everything. Concentrate on the habits that you can do consistently and remember it’s what you do most of the time that determines health for life.