How walkers can stay healthy and happy with good nutrition during lockdown

With most of us spending a lot of time at home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and potentially with more time on our hands, it’s now even more important to eat well and continue to keep active to help keep us in good health. 

What is a healthy diet?

  • Having more time at home can give us time to think about our own nutrition. For a healthy balanced diet aim to:
  • Eat a variety of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta and bread – choose higher fibre wholegrain versions such as wholewheat pasta and wholemeal bread.
  • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives such as soya drinks.
  • Eat some protein-containing foods such as pulses (beans, peas and lentils), fish, lean meat, eggs, soya and Quorn.
  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts.
  • Eat foods high in fat, sugar and salt less often and in small amounts.

Keeping ourselves hydrated is also a fundamental part of good nutrition. It is recommended we consume at least six to eight glasses of fluid a day – this can include water, low-fat milk, sugar-free drinks, and tea and coffee. It’s best to limit juices and smoothies to 150ml a day and limit sugary drinks.

Keeping yourself hydrated is really important – aim to take frequent small sips of water (or a no-added-sugar drink) – even before you feel thirsty.

Healthy snacking 

With more time on our hands, it may lead to us snacking more. But it’s important to snack sensibly – both to help manage our weight, but also to help keep ourselves healthy. 

But you can make snacks a healthy and valuable part of your daily diet, plus they can help fuel you before a walk. 

  • Plain popcorn – sprinkle with some chilli powder, smoked paprika or cinnamon for a flavour boost.
  • A slice of wholemeal toast with chopped banana and a thin spread of a no added sugar or salt nut butter.
  • Granola or oat bar (no added sugar). Try our fruity oat flapjack recipe.

Fruit and vegetable boosting snacks

  • Try carrot, cucumber or celery sticks with houmous. How about trying our delicious houmous recipe.
  • Homemade fruit smoothie – frozen fruit (and vegetables) are versatile, cheaper than fresh, and make a quick and nutritious snack.

Protein boosting snacks

  • Nuts and seeds – a small handful (around 30g) of unsalted nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews or peanuts) and/or seeds (e.g. sunflower or pumpkin seeds) – sprinkle with paprika for added flavour.
  • A tablespoon of crushed nuts on top of low-fat yoghurt (no added sugar).
  • Greek yoghurt (no added sugar) topped with fresh fruit.

For more recipe ideas, visit our Real Recipes website 

Fuelling your activity 

The main fuel for our muscles is carbohydrates; so, making sure you consume sufficient carbohydrates will help keep your energy levels up – vital in supporting you on a long walks near home. When your carbohydrate stores get low, it can cause feelings of fatigue and may lead to you feeling lightheaded. 

Before doing any type of activity it’s good to have a carbohydrate-based snack a couple of hours before, for example, a no added sugar yoghurt and a piece of fruit. How much carbohydrate you need will depend upon how long and how hard your activity will be. For example, a long walk near home will require more fuel (and hydration) than a 30-minute walk. 

For more information about WCRF, visit our website: wcrf-uk.org


Find out more about how to get involved with our #RoamSweetHome campaign.

Our Coronavirus update page gives the latest official advice on walking safely.


Caroline Toomey


- [ ] This is a great article but for some people “a long walk near home” would actually be 30 minutes, so may be you could define “long”?. Also, what about people fighting diabetes who follow a diet low in carbohydrates? Finally, how does a low sugar yoghurt constitute a carbohydrate snack? Without sugar and fruit, the only carbs in yogurts are mostly from the lactose, which is quite low in live yoghurt and non-existent in non-dairy. Wouldn’t an oat-based, no added sugar, cereal bar be better?

Caroline Toomey


- [ ] This is a great article but for some people “a long walk near home” would actually be 30 minutes, so may be you could define “long”?. Also, what about people fighting diabetes who follow a diet low in carbohydrates? Finally, how does a low sugar yoghurt constitute a carbohydrate snack? Without sugar and fruit, the only carbs in yogurts are mostly from the lactose, which is quite low in live yoghurt and non-existent in non-dairy. Wouldn’t an oat-based, no added sugar, cereal bar be better?

Caroline Toomey


This is a great article but for some people “a long walk near home” would actually be 30 minutes, so may be you could define “long”?. Also, what about people fighting diabetes who follow a diet low in carbohydrates? Finally, how does a low sugar yoghurt constitute a carbohydrate snack? Without sugar and fruit, the only carbs in yogurts are mostly from the lactose, which is quite low in live yoghurt and non-existent in non-dairy. Wouldn’t an oat-based, no added sugar, cereal bar be better?

Dr Michael Clarke


I think this article is potentially unhelpful. I have been 'pre-diabetic' despite being normal weight and physically active, and eventually explored the low carbohydrate world. Having read 'The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Living' by Volek & Phinney I tried it out and it has seemed to help. There has clearly been a long standing 'low fat' mantra which I now see as unhelpful. To suggest that meals should be based on starchy carbohydrates, is for myself, and maybe many others, wrong.

Tony Edwards


Good suggestions Matt.

In this lockdown, there is a tendency to eat too much for comfort, and un-healthily put on weight.

Radio 4 today, Dr Michael Mosely says that we have lower chance of dying with virus, if we are in good health and weight, and not obese.

I have found that very vigorous walking, especially up-hills, is better exercise than the early morning short run. I am more able to think and look about, while walking. I have been advised to stop running because of tender knees.

Older people (I am 76) need as much exercise for health as younger.

Brian Reader


This article directly contradicts diet advice given on a course (X-PERT Diabetes Prevention & Management) that I attended earlier this year - on advice from my GP in preference to taking yet more pills (I take several per day for other ailments). The course was aimed at those either diabetic or pre-diabetic. The emphasis on the course was very much to REDUCE intake of all carbohydrates - breakfast cereals, bread, potatoes, pasta, rice etc etc. WE were also told that the low fat mantra was wrong - some fats can be beneficial e.g. monounsaturated fat found in olive oil or rapeseed oil. I've lost nearly a stone in weight since attending the course and feel better for it.

Roy Hunt


Much of this article I agree with. However - and yes there is a big however:

Many Ramblers members are shall I say of older years. And some of us, like me, have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. This condition if I can call it such is becoming a major health problem within the population and an ever increasing financial burden of NHS and care services. (I know that diabetes is not only a risk to those in the older generation, but our membership demographics are more towards the higher age range of the population where the problem is greater).

I am aware of two other people like myself who have been on courses to steer us away from diabetes. On each of those courses the single biggest message has been a very simple one - reduce substantially your intake of carbohydrates (potatoes, sugar breads, pastas etc) or take the significant risk of becoming diabetic with the possible severe consequences on your physical health.

I am sorry to say this but I believe, based on what NHS clinicians have told myself and others, the advice in this document "Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta and bread – choose higher fibre wholegrain versions such as wholewheat pasta and wholemeal bread." is not only wrong but for people who are pre-diabetic and unaware, potentially dangerous.

I will go further and say that the very best advice on snacks is not to eat any of them between meals. It is known that "snacking" is a major cause of obesity and the consequential health problems in all ages of the population.

I will continue to trust the NHS. It is up to others if they choose to trust contrary advice, but I would suggest that Central Office remove this particular article until they have sought expert clinical advice on the subject.