5 Wellbeing tips for staying at home

There has never been a more important time to take care of your personal wellbeing and mental health. We share our top 5 tips on what to do to look after yourself during these difficult times. 

 

Eat well 

It’s often said that food is our best medicine. We started Balance Box to make healthy eating easy. Following a balanced diet not only supports immunity, but it also helps us to better manage stress, improves sleep and offers a distraction. We know that it’s hard to get everything you want at the moment. That’s why we are here to provide you with fresh, healthy, nutritionally balanced food boxes with all you need to eat healthily throughout the day. 

Want to have a go at cooking yourself? Check out our healthy delicious recipes. If you haven’t got all the ingredients, we’re here to help and suggest substitutions. Talk to us. 

4 day Balance Box flat lay on wooden table

Stay active 

We’re currently encouraged to do one outdoor activity a day. Get some fresh air in the garden, go for a walk or run as long as you don’t have to self-isolate. But make sure you maintain a distance of at least 2 meters from others 

If you can’t leave the house or you’re missing your regular classes, look for alternatives to complete your workout from home. Most studios and gym are offering live classes or have released online workouts.

Smiling woman exercising at home and watching training videos on laptop. Chinese female doing planks with a leg outstretched and looking at laptop.

Reduce stress 

Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage about the outbreak. You could set a specific time to check updates. Avoid speculation and seek out reputable sources. This will help settle your mind. We recommend BBC News, GOV.UK and Public Health England. 

Continue doing the things you enjoy. Take part in activities that aid relaxation such as a walk in nature, yoga, meditation, listening or playing music – whatever works for you! 

Calm young woman sitting on the floor in sukhasana easy lotus pose hands in chin mudra gesture, enjoying meditating alone at home interior, practicing yoga for peaceful mind at morning, close up view

 

Stay connected

At times of stress and anxiety, we are better able to handle situations with support from others. Reaching out to our friends and family helps us to feel connected to one another. Pick up the phone or arrange a video call. You could even FaceTime and eat a meal together (virtually!). And if you’re working from home arrange regular check-ins with your team – it will help you prioritise your workload and stay productive. 

Multiethnic business team having discussion in video call. Rear view of business woman in video conference with boss and his colleagues during online meeting. Senior woman making video call with partners using laptop at home: remote job interview, consultation, human resources concept.

 

Create a new routine

Your usual routine is likely to have been disrupted. Try to create a new routine and set yourself goals. You might like to write a plan for your day or week, choosing regular times to work out from home, read, call a friend or watch a film. If you’re working from home, try to get up and ready as normal, sticking to your usual working hours and sleep patterns. 

The Balance Box team are here to help. We hope some of these ideas are useful but if there is anything else we can do, please let us know. We’re sharing tools to manage the new ‘normal’ and expert nutrition tips to help you stay healthy over on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Come and say hi!

Calendar open on a laptop and writing plans into a diary

Balance Box: Update on COVID-19

Balance Box with a weeks worth of meals and snack in front.

At this point in time, COVID-19 has not impacted on the service we provide to you. We continue to deliver healthy balanced meals nationwide. However, we want to let you know the steps we have in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver Balance Box.

 

The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority

The NHS states that it is very unlikely that coronavirus can be spread through food and packaging. We continue to follow the strictest food safety guidelines and maintain our 5* rating and all of our staff are up to date with the latest guidance on hygiene, travel and health and safety. You can rest assured that your meals are being prepared in a safe and hygienic environment.

 

However, we want to share with you some of the additional processes we have put in place to continue delivering Balance Box to you whilst prioritising the safety of our customers and staff.

 

  • We have increased our health and safety checks and introduced additional sanitation procedures across all areas of the business.
  • We are conducting nightly deep cleans of all kitchen and packaging areas
  • We are continuing to monitor and adapt our procedures to comply with the latest health and safety advice.
  • No signature is required. We already follow a non-contact delivery initiative, giving you peace of mind while protecting our delivery drivers.

 

Be assured that the safety of our customers and staff is our top priority. We will let you know of any further updates.

 

Please do contact us if we can help you or someone you know. If you have any questions or concerns our nurture team is still available 8 am – 4.30 pm Monday to Friday via email or phone to support you.

 

It’s more important than ever that we support each other during these uncertain times. We’re humbled by the acts of kindness that we are seeing so we’re inviting you to nominate your hero to receive a complimentary Balance Box.

 

Stay safe,
 
Jenny and the Balance Box team

Nominate your hero

We’re on a mission to deliver our healthy nutritious meals to as many people as we can. We would like to offer our support to those heroes whose acts of kindness are making a real difference to their communities amid the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s more important than ever that we support each other during these uncertain times. That’s why we’re launching our Continued Kindness campaign.

Now is your chance to give recognition to someone whose acts of kindness have had a positive impact on others by nominating them to receive a complimentary Balance Box.


It could be the ICU nurse working round the clock to save lives, the community worker who brings much-needed supplies to people in need; the carer or hospice volunteer who selflessly helps the elderly or vulnerable; the teacher supporting the children of key workers.

We’ll go through all the entries on Friday and choose heroes to gift a Balance Box to to help them stay healthy to carry out their important work.

Nominate your hero on our Facebook or Instagram or by sending an email to hello@balancebox.com. Tell us their name and why you think they deserve some healthy meals to keep them going.

Don’t let your hero go unnoticed – nominate them now!

 

Thank you

Jenny and the Balance Box Team

hello@balancebox.com    020 7720 8583

Kindness

The most contagious thing is kindness

Dr David R Hamilton, advocate for kindness and author of  ‘The Little Book of Kindness’, tells us how being kind to other people can literally improve your health!

We’re all thinking of contagion right now due to the coronavirus. Let’s not forget that kindness is also highly contagious.

Scientists at Harvard and Yale measured the contagiousness of kindness out to three social steps. That is, when you be kind to someone, that person will be kind or kinder to someone else (1 social step from you), because of how you made the person feel, and the recipient of that kindness will be kind or kinder to someone else (2 social steps from you), and the recipient of that kindness will be kind or kinder to someone else (3 social steps from you).

In practice, kindness is ‘circularly contagious’, like the way a wave travels outwards in a circle when you drop a pebble in water.

 
What actually happens is that the person you are kind to ends up being kind or kinder to about 5 people (the number varies but this is an average) over the course of the next 24 hours (1 social step), and each of those 5 people are kind or kinder to 5 people over the next 24 hours (2 social steps), and each of those 5 are kind or kinder to 5 people (3 social steps).

That’s 5 x 5 x 5 = 125 people benefiting from a single act of kindness. Each time you are kind, you really are impacting far more people than just the person you help! I’m saying this because many of us wonder if our actions are insignificant. They’re are! Kindness matters greatly and you make a difference even with the smallest of acts.

In these strangest of times, we’re being encouraged to keep our physical distance, but let’s reduce our emotional distance. Pick up the phone, send a text, use Facetime, WhatsApp or Skype. Be there for family, friends, co-workers, neighbours, others in your community, if you can.

One thing I’ve learned over the years of trying to be a little kinder is that what might seem like a small act for you might mean the world to the person you help.

Other things are contagious too. Emotions are contagious. You can actually infect someone with a good mood (or even happiness) down a phone line. One of my friends phoned me a few days ago just to tell me a joke. I was chuckling to myself for hours afterwards. But even just being upbeat on the phone can activate the mirror neuron system (MNS) of the person’s brain. If you’re using the phone then it’s the auditory component of the MNS or if you’re using video, then it’s both the auditory and visual components. Either way, your upbeat tone specifically activates their brain regions for positive emotion and improves their mood. In a very real and scientific way, your mood is contagious! It’s known as mood contagion or emotional contagion.

Healthy lifestyle is also contagious and it works through what’s called social contagion, where we are inspired to take up certain behaviours of others. In these times, one of the best ways to support your immune system is to eat a healthy diet containing fruit, vegetables, fibre, nuts and seeds. Try to incorporate over 30 different plant ingredients a week (try counting them) to optimally support your gut microbiome, which supports your immune system. This is according to Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College in London, and author of, ‘The Diet Myth’. If you have a handful of nuts, for example, containing peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts, then that counts as 4. If you dip bread in olive oil then that’s two (the bread grain plus the olive oil, coming from olives).

So if you eat well, you can not only help support your immune system but also that of some of your family and friends who might follow suit due to social contagion, especially if you communicate how healthy it is, and even do so in an upbeat way. Ultimately, if you do this partly to help them, then you’re also practicing kindness.

So while we increase our physical distance to help reduce the likelihood of contagion of coronavirus, let us increase the contagion of kindness instead.

 

What do Balance Box and Mc Donalds have in common?

Yes, we are referring to the multinational, corporate fast food chain. You might be surprised to know that McDonald’s do some fantastic work for charity.
For over 30 years, the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) has provided a ‘a home away from home’ to parents whose children are undergoing treatment for medical conditions far from where they live. As an independent, non-profit organisation, they rely on the kindness and generosity of others to support them, which is why the Balance Box wanted to get involved.
We believe that when a child is hospitalised, the love and support of their family, in addition to nourishing foods, is critical to improving their health. That’s why we deliver fresh fruit to RMHC’s houses in London each week. So, every time you order one of our boxes, you’re contributing to the much-needed support of a family in need.

How to fit exercise into your busy life

Sporty funny attractive woman having lunch in kitchen while practicing yoga, standing in Tree exercise, Vrksasana pose, work out in white sportswear, enjoying food, indoor, home interior background

Build positive habits and make self-care a priority

For most of us, modern life is a juggling act. Childcare, career, admin and social commitments jostle for space in our already bursting diaries. The result? We’re often left with little or no time for our best laid exercise goals. If fitness has slipped to the sleepy depths of your to-do list, it’s time to prioritise. The benefits of regular exercise are huge, including increased energy levels, improved mood and weight loss.

If you’re left with minimal time to work out, follow these practical tips to add more exercise into your day.

 

  1. Marginal gains. Brush your teeth standing in a squat position. Park or alight further away from work and power walk into the office. Take the stairs instead of lifts and escalators. Do ten burpees while waiting for the kettle to boil. Weave these kinds of movements into your everyday life and you should see a positive effect on your overall fitness.
  2. Plan, plan and plan some more. If you’re serious about getting in shape, don’t leave things to chance. It’s a fact that if you schedule time in for exercise, you are more likely to actually do it. Book a personal trainer session and stick it in your diary. Commit to a lunch time run with a colleague. Sign-up for an organised event so you have something to work towards. Make exercise a non-negotiable priority.
  3. Rope in your family and friends. Want to meet up with friends but desperate for some time to exercise? Suggest you get together for a hike or a climbing session. Visiting a relative but don’t fancy the idea of sitting down for hours? Head outside and meet them for a walk. It sounds obvious, but this way of thinking can really make a difference. Multi-tasking is an effective and fun way to maximise your precious time.

 

Balance Box specialises in healthy, delicious and perfectly portioned meals. Let us take care of your nutrition so you can take care of everything else.

Sporty funny attractive woman having lunch in kitchen while practicing yoga, standing in Tree exercise, Vrksasana pose, work out in white sportswear, enjoying food, indoor, home interior background

Do aphrodisiacs really work?

Close up of young couple toasting with glasses of red wine at restaurant

What actually is an aphrodisiac?

Derived from the name Aphrodite – the Greek goddess of love – an aphrodisiac is a food, drink or substance that stimulates sexual desire.

But do aphrodisiacs really work or are they a fallacy?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we thought we’d do a little research to see which foods have been scientifically proven to stimulate sexual desire and boost faded libidos.

You may be surprised to hear that many of the classic foods associated with inducing sexual appetite, such as champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, don’t contain any properties proven to stimulate libido. Still, don’t let this put you off serving them if you’re feeling in the mood to impress. Instead, why not supplement them with the foods linked to arousal and sexual performance listed below.

  • Zinc is one of the best nutrients to help support a healthy reproductive system. It increases both testosterone levels and sperm count in males. This might be where the idea of oysters, steak and lobster came from as the ultimate Valentine’s Day meal – these foods are all high in zinc. Vegetarian foods bursting with this magical mineral include almonds, pumpkin seeds, lentils and chickpeas.
  • Maca is a Peruvian plant that has become popular due to its hormonal balancing and libido enhancing properties. It’s easy to find in powder form and is a cinch to add to smoothies, soups, salad dressings and baking recipes.
  • Ginseng is an herb that has been shown to increase energy levels. Assuming this heightened vigour is then used in the bedroom, it’s fair to say that ginseng is an indirect aphrodisiac. Used in Chinese medicine to promote blood flow and strength, ginseng has been claimed to improve erectile dysfunction. Take it as a tea or in powder form.

The key to an enhanced libido is to improve your energy levels holistically. As well as incorporating the above foods into your diet, make sure you eat a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables and carve out time for good quality sleep.

 

Close up of young couple toasting with glasses of red wine at restaurant

Superfoods unmasked

Superfoods are not magic bullets. The media love to label a constantly changing succession of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds as ‘super’, dazzling us with their powerful properties and nutritional jargon. We’re bombarded with messages like, ‘This one food will speed up weight loss!’ or ‘Eat more anthocyanins to prevent cancer!’ Claims like these can make nutrition a confusing game indeed.

But despite the impressive health benefits many plants provide, they won’t do anything for us in isolation. Eating processed foods everyday does not constitute a healthy diet if you sometimes snack on a handful of goji berries. Superfoods are not superheroes. They can’t rescue us if the rest of our intake is inadequate.

The unvarnished truth is that optimal nutrition is extremely complex and differs from person to person. If you eat a balanced diet containing a rich variety of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and limit your alcohol intake, you don’t need to obsess over the latest so-called superfood.

We prefer to think of ‘superplates’ rather than superfoods – so try and make sure every meal you have is bursting with nutrients.

At Balance Box, we pack up to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables into our client’s daily programme. And if we sneak in a few goji berries, it’s because we like the taste.

Diet Myths

There’s a dizzying array of information about what’s hot and what’s not in the world of healthy eating. At Balance Box, we’re all about delicious, healthy food that makes your life easier, not harder. We’ve busted the most common diet myths so you can make the right choices for your body.

“Gluten is so bad for you”

Actually, it’s not. Unless you’re celiac, gluten-intolerant or have a wheat allergy, there’s no reason to remove gluten from your diet. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye and spelt. Although it’s not unhealthy in itself, its appearance in highly processed foods like biscuits, white bread and pastries gives it a bad reputation.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”
Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can be beneficial because it gives the digestive system a break. We naturally fast at night-time anyway, so extending this until midday can sometimes be a good move if you’ve overindulged. Whether you’re too busy to eat in the mornings, or you sit down to a home-cooked breakfast every day, don’t worry. The key here is that when you do eat your first mouthful, make sure it’s a nutritious one.

“You’ll gain fat if you eat after 6pm or before bed”
If you end your day with a balanced, delicious meal, it doesn’t matter if you eat it at 8pm or 9pm. We all lead busy lives and so later meals are becoming the norm. However, digestion uses a lot of energy and can interfere with your sleep patterns, so ideally, try not to eat for at least three hours before bedtime. But don’t stress and spend the night hungry and grumpy if you get home late. Unless you’re a gremlin, eating after midnight every now and then is not the end of the world.

“Carbs are bad for you”

Carbohydrates are the main source of the body’s energy so you don’t want to cut them out altogether. What you do want to watch, however, are the processed carbs which score high on the Glycemic Index. These foods, such as white bread, biscuits, pastries and cakes will cause a spike and subsequent crash in blood sugar levels, causing you to reach for the biscuit tin in an endless loop. If you want to lose weight, reach for wholegrain breads and pasta with plenty of fresh vegetables instead.

“Keto is the way to go

The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat approach to eating. It causes your body to go into a state of ‘ketosis’ meaning it burns fat stores rather than food for energy. Any diet that induces a calorie deficit will lead to weight loss and keto is no different. However, take caution – there are no significant studies to show that keto leads to long-term weight loss, nor improved health. In fact, some studies have shown it to be harmful long-term.

“Detox diets are a silver bullet”

Some detox diets are so extreme that they can do more harm than good. Weight loss may result from existing solely on celery juice for seven days, but this is different to fat loss and can exhaust your glycogen stores. Don’t confuse detox diets with clean eating either. It’s always a good idea to enjoy whole foods with minimal sugar, trans fats and preservatives, but don’t obsess about it. Unless you have a medical condition, the kidneys and liver are superstars at detoxing the body naturally.

“Protein is bad for you”

Protein is the most important macro nutrient to pay attention to when losing weight. It supports our joints and boosts our bones, so it’s particularly crucial to hit your recommended daily intake as you age. Fears about red meat causing cancer are vastly exaggerated too. Upping levels of plant-based food, exercising more and quitting smoking will significantly reduce your chances of cancer more than restricting red meat alone.

“Fat is bad for you

A small amount of ‘good’ fat is crucial for our bodies to function properly. But trans-fats and saturated fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Reduce the amount of fatty meats, hard cheeses, biscuits, cakes and cream in your diet and enjoy unsaturated fats in foods such as olive oil, avocados, brazil nuts and oily fish. Salmon, trout, and mackerel are loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 which are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.

“Vegetarian and vegan diets are healthier”

Vegetarian and vegan foods don’t necessarily indicate a healthier diet. If you replace meat and dairy with sweets, refined carbohydrates and processed foods, you’re not going to lose weight or feel better. If you want to give-up meat, make sure you include plenty of plant-based protein such as pulses and beans.

Could a digital detox help you lose weight?

We live in a world of convenience where everything is just a finger swipe away. This means that even the most disciplined of us often find it hard to resist the time-wasting pitfalls of mindless scrolling.

Taking a break from your phone has been shown to improve mental wellbeing. But what about physical health? What if reducing those hours staring at a screen could benefit our waistline?

Melatonin is the hormone which regulates our circadian rhythm and signals to our body that it’s time to nod off. As little as two hours of exposure to light emitted from our devices can suppress melatonin production by 22%, meaning late night social media binges can cause significantly disrupted sleep patterns.

The knock-on effect is that a lack of sleep is linked to weight gain. This is because our body favours the production of ghrelin (the appetite increasing hormone) over leptin (the appetite suppressing hormone) when we’re tired. The result of bad sleep? We crave sugary, fatty junk foods to increase our energy levels. A regular intake of calorific foods means our body stores the excess energy as fat and we find it hard to shift the weight.
So, next time you find yourself falling into a digital rabbit hole of bedtime scrolling, switch off your phone, get some decent shut-eye and start reaping the weight loss benefits.