Staying healthy at home this festive season for the Coventry Health Challenge

Published Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Coventry health services are reminding older residents and anyone who may be restricted by a health condition of the best present to our future selves this festive season.


Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is recommended as part of the Coventry Health Challenge.

The ongoing pandemic and lockdowns have altered our daily routines and for many of us, our eating habits may have also changed. Extra time spent at home through lockdown and self-isolation may have seen many of us make poor food choices and gain weight. The second national lockdown has been hard on many people’s mental wellbeing, which may spur many people to overindulge and comfort eat more this festive season.

What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections. Therefore, making small, simple changes to what and how much you are eating and drinking, such as healthier swaps and smaller portions can really help you maintain good general health into 2021.

While diet and nutrition cannot stop or cure COVID-19 infection, flu or any other illness, eating a healthy and balanced diet is crucial in supporting our immune systems to fight diseases, as well as giving the body the energy and nutrients it needs to stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Health is one of the most valuable things we have, and good nutrition can also reduce the likelihood of developing other health and diet-related problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

According to Healthy Lifestyles Coventry since April 2020 over 150 people have lost weight with a third of these also increasing their activity by at least 30 minutes per week. Figures also show that 10% of people who lost weight and got more active, also reduced their alcohol by at least 50%. In Service, HLS has helped over 50 people reduce their alcohol consumption by at least 50%

Top tips for a healthier Christmas

  • don’t sit down all day – you should aim to be active every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Being older or living with a long-term health condition doesn’t have to hold you back. The Coventry Health Challenge booklet shows gentle exercise you can do from home.
  • Limit alcohol intake – It is almost impossible to calculate how much you can drink and remain under the limit or know how much you can drink and still drive safely. There is only one way of being sure that you are safe to drive and that is not to drink at all. Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive. There are plenty of alternatives available including public transport, taxis and sharing designated drivers. We all need to stay fit and healthy right now, but alcohol can harm our immune system and reduce our ability to fight off infectious diseases.
  • don’t be a Christmas pudding – recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner. Try to eat a normal-sized meal and then take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry. The chances are, you’ll realise you’ve had enough.
  • eat fruit and veg – with COVID-19 around at this traditional time of overindulging it’s more important than ever to get your vitamins and minerals, to help you stay in good health.
  • do something for others – perform a random act of kindness for a friend, or a stranger, volunteer some time to help someone that might be struggling, or say thank you, and show gratitude. Check out the 5 Ways to Wellbeing for more ideas.
  • think before you eat – spend a moment thinking about whether you really want it, or are just eating it because it’s there. Perhaps you are thirsty instead.
  • engage your brain – Instead of switching off in front of the TV, keep your mind active by playing games.
  • avoid going getting into debt and spending more than you can afford – not everyone will receive a present this festive season, but there is always a gift we can prepare for ourselves. A little bit of thought and planning in December will go far in bringing good health and better finances, ensuring we are in a good position to start 2021. Citizens Advice has some great tips for spending wisely.

Cllr Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport at Coventry City Council said:

“For many the festive season is can be an opportunity to overeat or drink more than normal but taking ownership of our health at this time of year can really make a difference to how fit and healthy we feel heading into 2021.

“Health is one of the most valuable things that we can have. Small changes to our lifestyles and to how we live can have a big impact on our health and wellbeing, especially with the COVID-19 virus still circulating. Eating better, getting active, quitting smoking and keeping up to date with vaccinations, especially getting your flu jab are just a few, but effective steps that will really boost our resistance to any future diseases.

“We can all do our bit to stay fit and healthy, to help protect us from coronavirus complications and alleviate pressure from the NHS, especially following a second national lockdown. If you haven’t already been involved with the Coventry Health Challenge, don’t delay taking steps to improve your health for your future self.”

Calvin Holman, service director at Healthy Lifestyles Coventry, said:

“We know that Christmas and New Year is a time for many of overindulging when it comes to eating and drinking. But staying as healthy as possible during this time of year is just as important as the rest of the year. Simple steps like eating regular meals, eating plenty of fruit and veg, portion control, meal planning and everything in moderation can really help towards a longer term healthy weight and diet.

“Our service is FREE and you can receive support from the comfort of your home. Our coaches will work with you on a one to one basis – over the phone, texts or through video chat. We can also provide access to nicotine replacement therapy to support you to quit.

“Now is a great time to make healthier eating and drinking choices for the future, and we’re here to help people do that when they’re ready to make that move.”

More about the Coventry Health Challenge campaign along with a Physical Activity booklet, and a printable Goal Tracker. Residents are also be encouraged to make a pledge and commit to just one thing for the campaign as part of prioritising their physical health, setting goals for themselves and staying resilient this winter.

You also can read stories from fellow Coventry residents who have made lifestyle changes and improved their long-term health. 

Coventry City Council