Nutrition: eating during lockdown


Onions - Credit: Archant

North West London nutritionist Antonia advises us to get to grips with how our bodies fight infections and offers an immunity-boosting recipe for onion and garlic soup

Antonia Maguire

Antonia Maguire - Credit: Archant

In this ever changing world where everything actually seems to stay the same, it’s hard to know how one is going to feel one day to the next.

In the first few days of lockdown we scrambled into groups, desperately figured out what Zoom was, phoned our friends and checked in with family.

By week five, things were calmer and we were left pondering such inanities as ‘how do we get through so much cheese?’ and ‘how does the house get so dirty when we don’t leave it?’

Washing our hands should have been normal before, and it certainly is now, but as the phrase ‘new normal’ takes its irritating hold, we are left with a new knowledge about the frailty of our own bodies.

As a Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath, I know that our physiology hasn’t changed one iota, but how we regard it truly has. And for the better.

I’m sure there were many, when the lockdown came, who roared with laughter at the thought of ‘daily exercise’ and then realised that in fact, this was their best chance of a happier healthier life.

Most Read

Not being able to swim, I’ve started jogging with the dog. I didn’t really like it much for the first couple of weeks, but I’m now thoroughly addicted to that hit of early morning fresh air. Early on I started a Facebook group called ‘Home Nutrition Daily’ for the purpose of store cupboard recipe exchanging and general info. 349 people joined it overnight and there have been some great exchanges for everything from yeast free flatbreads to the endless possibilities for Wild Garlic.

As the weeks have gone by, the chef-ier among us have been drip feeding easy to assemble family dishes from soups and stews to curries and sauces, not to mention ideas for random items fished out from the dark recesses of our cupboards.

Lunch still seems to still be an issue everywhere. But that’s why God invented soup.

The complexity of the body’s immune system is something of a mystery to many, but one thing we are starting to understand is that a diet rich in fresh fruit and veg, whole grains, brown carbs and freshly prepared meat and fish is definitely better for us than late night take-aways, emergency pizzas and sandwiches scoffed on the hoof.

Obviously the main function of the human immune system is to protect the host against infection, but it also clears damaged tissues and provides constant surveillance of potentially malignant cells in the body. The Innate Immune System is the natural barrier system we are born with and the Adaptive Immune System is the one with the antibodies that develops over time. If you are someone who suffers from frequent minor infections, digestive complaints, autoimmune conditions or nagging fatigue, its a good idea to use this lockdown time to really get to grips with understanding your health and how your body fights infection.

Research shows that psychological stress can also be very damaging to the immune system long term and that physical activity enhances immune performance. As regards nutrition, I’m afraid sugar, starch and most processed foods are out and guess what, fresh fruit and veg are in.

So while we now have time to turn out long forgotten cupboards and attics full of junk, get to know our partners and children again, sort out our gardens if we are lucky enough to have them, please let this also be the time when we understand our bodies better and stop filling them full of debilitating junk.

I’m offering a free 30 minute coaching session to anyone who would like to explore their personal health further - weekdays between 10.30am and 1pm.

Book direct via Facebook aat ‘Antonia Maguire Nutrition and Reflexology’ or via my website

And share any great recipes at ‘Home Nutrition Daily.’

Recipe: Onion and Garlic Soup - serves 3-4

Meanwhile, here’s a delicious, immune supporting recipe, which is just about as healthy and simple as it gets:


3 medium onions, finely sliced

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1.5 litres veg, beef or chicken stock

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large knob of butter

1/2 tsp flour

salt & pepper

dash of balsamic vinegar


Slice your onions and then temper very slowly in the butter and olive oil. After 5 minutes, add the crushed garlic and stir. DO NOT to let the onions catch, you want a nice sweet caramelisation. Definitely do not burn the garlic. After a while add a little flour and mix in. Warm the stock in a pan and then gently add to the onion mixture as is you were making a sauce. Keep adding and then bring to a gentle boil, seasoning as you wish. Serve with cheese on toasts floating in the broth, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of iron rich parsley and a green salad.