By Kellie Anderson, MSc

As we slide into the crunchy-leaved depths of September, Covid-19 remains our daily reality. So much so that perhaps some of us are thinking of our lives in terms of BC and DC – Before-Covid and During-Covid. 

This may or may not be a melodramatic assessment of our situation. Only time will tell.

During this unique and rather anxious time many of us have embraced helpful health behaviours, hoping to circumvent our risk of the more acute – and evolving – aspects of the virus. 

Occasional walkers turned into determined hill walkers; smokers quit in droves (at least the under-30s); and an increased number of us were more likely to be cooking, and paying attention to our diet

But will we hew to these positive approaches to living with nebulous uncertainty? Or will our inherent strive to return to some semblance of normality/BC life trample underfoot (m)any mental and physical health gains? Again, only time will tell.

To get us thinking about how we can sustain – and perhaps build upon – change, it is salient to recognise that the personal actions we take to lower our risk of developing complications from Covid-19, are broadly similar to preventing cancer. Although Covid-19 is currently at the forefront of many of our minds with regards to self and loved ones, risk of the development of cancer will be a constant long after the imminent threat of Covid-19 fades.

Nutrition plays a key role in the lifestyle package to prevent at least 12 different types of cancer. Along with physical endeavours, good nutrition, consistently attended, helps shape one of the primary risk factors for cancer: overweight/obesity. 

Reports that overweight/obesity is likely a risk factor – among other non-communicable conditions and diseases – for severity of illness with Covid-19 may amp our motivation to plan, initiate and sustain change. 

Even if, after initial enthusiasm for getting fit, we have slipped back into old habits over lockdown, change is always available to us. Be it the big gesture of losing a stone; or the small one of adding more fibre to our everyday diet: health behaviour changes optimise the health we have. And may modify and improve the health we age into. This can only be a positive with regards to cancer, and can help keep us motivated in the long-term. Especially as new habits are formed during this unique time, and behaviours reinforced by personal and external motivations. 

As for my own changes during this time, I’ve eliminated all foods with added sugar as well as made vegetables the main part of my plate. My breakfast is often leftover roasted vegetables (or a quick stir fry) with an egg and a homemade flaxseed flatbread; or a homemade, all-nut granola with berries and Vitamin D-fortified, unsweetened plant milk. And it feels great. My husband has even joined me.

Thinking not only about cancer risk, but risk of complications from Covid-19 may serve to motivate us to fully integrate good health practices – consistent exercise, standing in preference to sitting, not smoking, drinking modestly, and home cooking with “real food”. If we can shift that unwanted stone, all the better.

But, time will tell.

To access nutritious and colourful recipes with a global edge – and a modicum of humour, visit kelliesfoodtoglow.com.