How COVID-19 has changed the way we shop and eat

Lockdown survey results: over 3,400 people share how shopping, eating and exercise has changed (and there are some positives!).

  • Branded goods are LESS important
  • People are cooking MORE
  • Food waste is DOWN
  • One third of people are MORE active
  • Half have had NO takeaways

A new UK survey by nutrition tracking App, Nutracheck, has found some positive benefits for our health might be emerging during lockdown.

Nutracheck asked over 3,400 UK adults about how their shopping, eating and exercise habits had changed over the past 5 weeks.

Said Rachel Hartley, Business Development Director: "Our lives have been turned upside down, yet our survey findings point to some positive changes. It's like we've taken a step back in time – we are buying more fresh food, cooking based on what's available on the shelves, and wasting less. This behaviour change has the potential for a knock-on effect long term: it tackles some of the big issues we've faced before – if people embrace these changes and keep going when we come out of lockdown, there's a chance for positive lifestyle and health improvements in the future."

The results focus on 3 key areas:

Food shopping and buying behaviour:

  • 57% are less bothered about buying branded products
  • 27% are buying more fruit and veg
  • 46% are buying more fresh, unpackaged foods

"One of the biggest changes is our attitude towards branded goods; a big factor may be availability, but if people have found alternatives are perfectly acceptable (and most likely cheaper), they may be less bothered about buying branded goods in the future."

Eating:

  • 64% say they are wasting less food
  • One third are cooking more
  • 56% have had no takeaways
  • 14% are drinking less

"Our survey found that nearly two thirds of participants are wasting less food. Food availability and less frequent shopping trips are likely to be factors, but it's a win for the environment – and for people's pockets too. Hopefully people's attitudes towards throwing away food too casually are changing."

There has been a revival in home-cooking. Probably not surprising that with more time available, many people are spending it in the kitchen. Linked to the increased purchase of fresh, unpackaged foods, it points to less reliance on convenience foods.

Takeaways have taken a back seat (pizza is first choice for those who have indulged). This is a big change. Pre-lockdown, a quarter of our daily calories were typically from food and drink consumed outside of the home. So an observation here is that people are currently having more control over what is going into the meals they are eating.

Snacking, not surprisingly, has been a challenge for around half of respondents. Around 40% are working from home (comparable with the Government statistic of 45%) – physical proximity to food may play a part, but emotional factors cannot be underestimated. In terms of snack preference, the survey found an even split between sweet and savoury.

Exercise and weight:

  • 43% are using their 'exercise hour' outside and 33% say they are more active than before lockdown
  • 42% have tried an online workout... and 30% are keeping it up!
  • One third are keeping their weight in check

"Our survey found that a third of participants are more active now than before lockdown. This indicates people are putting their extra time to good use to maintain their fitness or maybe start an exercise routine.

"The recent good weather has clearly played a part, allowing people to get outside for the allowed one session of exercise a day – with 43% taking advantage of this every day and 32% most days. Just getting out of the house, is so important for mental wellbeing as well as fitness."

Online exercise has taken off in a big way, and people seem to have embraced this new way of keeping fit. And despite the restrictions, a third said they are managing to keep their weight in check.

Whilst lives have definitely been turned upside down, the impact on our eating and exercise behaviours has not been all bad. Buying fresh produce and less convenience foods, more home cooking and incorporating daily exercise – are all positive shifts toward a healthier lifestyle (and flashback to a past era).

The longer lockdown continues, the greater the chance of new behaviours establishing as habits and hopefully being sustained when lockdown eases. Time will tell.

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