Eating for Mental Wellbeing in Lockdown

fresh rhubarb - eat seasonally for mental wellbeing
cover image by Brian Hartley

Introducing Sonnda Catto!

Sonnda Catto, over at Eating for Wellbeing & Joy, has created this fab free eBook, Eating for Mental Wellbeing in Lockdown. Nutritionist, researcher and ex-Michelin starred chef, she sets out 3 simple food steps we can all follow to stay positive and boost our mental wellbeing in this unsettling time. Fun, easy ways to take back control and feel better right now.

Crammed with top tips for seasonal eating, loads of delicious healthy recipes and a playful, slightly tongue in cheek, mindfulness-of-rhubarb meditation (not to be missed by Yorkshire triangle rhubarb fans!!), it’s a fantastic resource to have in your self-care toolkit. All packaged up with a welcome dose of light relief.

We can’t recommend it highly enough. To download your copy, simply follow this link:

More from Sonnda below.

Background to the eBook

This booklet came about on the back of a request from university colleagues for healthy eating tips in lockdown. People were panic buying and worrying about food shortages, but it seemed to me that the single greatest risk posed to health by lockdown/social distancing measures is to our mental health and wellbeing – I explain why below.

My colleagues loved the ideas I shared. So much so that I decided to publish the booklet as a free eBook, available for download from my website. People have really responded to its positive, empowering outlook, light tone, and the concept of seasonal eating as a way to be mindful. What’s really resonated though, I think, is the sense of control it gives back to people. At a time when so much is out with our control.

Why the focus on mental wellbeing?

As former research lead for reporting on Scotland’s mental health and wellbeing at Public Health Scotland), I’m well versed in the determinants of mental health and wellbeing. And was struck by how many stood to be negatively impacted by lockdown/social distancing. Across all four domains: individual-level factors (such as education, health behaviours, and physical health), plus features of our social, economic and physical environments.

🔸Our ability to be physically active

🔸The food we eat

🔸Alcohol intake

🔸Community participation

🔸Social contact, support + inclusion


🔸Neighbourhood trust, safety + crime

🔸Having a sense of control over our lives

🔸Having work, work-related stress, demand, control, support + work-life balance

🔸Our finances

🔸Home overcrowding

🔸Access to green spaces and a personal ‘escape facility’.

But please take heart, because I believe there’s much you can do to stay positive and nurture your mental health and wellbeing in this unsettling time.

My advice

In the booklet, I set out three 3 simple food steps you can follow to boost your mental wellbeing. Fun, easy ways to take back control and make yourself feel better right now. They are:

  1. Eat for self-care and connection – tapping into the individual-level and social determinants of mental health and wellbeing
  2. Eat for connection to time, place and nature – using seasonal foods to tap into the power of the natural environment to build positive mental health
  3. Eat mindfully – contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to get onto the yoga mat or do a meditation to calm your mind. Food’s multisensory properties make it a marvellous subject for mindfulness. So, with my tongue slightly in cheek, I’ve written a playful meditation on the mindfulness of rhubarb. Featuring gorgeous, bubble gum-pink, UK rhubarb – grab the Yorkshire forced stuff before the season ends, just days to go now!

Eating for wellbeing and joy

To help you add a few seasonal foods to your diet, I’ve shared my top tips for seasonal eating at this time of year. So you know what to do with each seasonal ingredient for maximum health benefit and pleasure – for wellbeing and joy, my nutritionist/chef trademark – each one is supported by one or more of my own recipes. Nothing complicated; just simple, seasonal eats. The kind of food where effort and time is totally disproportional to enjoyment (little and lots, respectively!).

Recipes include a sugar-free rhubarb compote, scented with vanilla and sweetened with just enough honey to take it from mouth-puckeringly sour to refreshingly tart. Totally dreamy dolloped over luscious, full fat Greek yoghurt, and scattered with a handful of shatteringly crisp toasted flaked almonds. Cavolo nero (aka black kale) wilted down and tossed through pasta with a few slugs of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and freshly grated parmesan or wonderfully salty, crystalline aged Gouda – a regular parmesan sub in my kitchen.

I’ve included a couple of ways to eat Romanesco, the delicate, nutty-tasting, green cauli with florets shaped in jaw-droppingly beautiful prisms. Including the prettiest pastel green, soft as a cloud, Romanesco cream. Excellent as a side veg, slathered on toast, as a dip. Or, my personal fave, mound into a bowl, make a small indentation on top, fill with EVOO and rest a soft-boiled egg inside the puddle. Ultimate springtime comfort food!

If that sounds like your kind of thing, then download your FREE COPY now:

Take good care, stay positive, and please feel free to share the link with those you think could benefit – we’ll get through this by looking out for each other. 🤗