Could lockdown spell the end of Rushing Woman Syndrome?

‘I don’t want it to take a health crisis to wake you up, to remind you, of how precious life is,’ said Dr Libby Weaver, a nutritional biochemist, as she finished her 2014 TEDx talk in Queenstown, New Zealand. 

Her words seem more poignant now, as families across the world have been torn apart by Covid-19, but back then she was speaking then about Rushing Woman Syndrome.

Dr Weaver coined the term and authored a book of the same name in 2011, and if you’re not a ‘rushing woman’, the chances are you know one. 

‘I was noticing an enormous change in women’s health, and it was a feeling that women had a pile of things on their to-do list, they had overflowing emails in their inboxes… It was as if there weren’t enough hours in the day,’ she tells ‘We couldn’t keep up with everything being asked of them or that they wanted to be part of.’

The juggling of everything on our to-do lists and neverending sense of urgency, she says, is leading to ‘relentless’ output of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which come with myriad physical health issues, including problems with menstruation, menopause, energy levels and metabolism – though this is not a conclusive list. 

With many now forcibly on pause thanks to lockdown, some have an opportunity to see how they’ve been moving through life in fast-forward. A global pandemic was not the health crisis Dr Weaver meant in her talk, but it has definitely given some the opportunity to reevaluate.

Alexandra Wood, 39, is one of Savile Row’s first female tailors and juggles her business Alexandra Wood Menswear with caring for her three children, having started her company with just £1,000 maternity pay when her daughter was born. 

‘My eyes are everywhere,’ she tells us. ‘I’m dealing with all aspects of my business, while looking after the children so it’s full-on.’

Since restrictions meant her bricks and mortar store had to close its doors, she’s had the opportunity to reflect and find the positive. 

Alexandra explains: ‘I’ve had to really focus on the most beneficial use of my time and what will help me grow the business in this turbulent time. I started my business with a newborn and in a recession so where there’s a will, there’s a way.

‘I’ve always been someone who loves going at full speed ahead but I have realised that simple time with the children doing TikTok dances bring about a lot of joy. 

‘I will also make sure I have more time with the children and that will mean streamlining my business and doing things that only make a difference. The art of delegation started in lockdown and will absolutely continue.’

Caroline Johnson, 42, also started her business Cheerleader PR while on maternity leave with her second daughter and has been a rushing woman.

She says: ‘Most days and weeks my head would be struggling, trying to keep all the plates spinning. I’d see it with my friends too, especially those with their own businesses who often find it impossible to switch off.’

Lockdown has meant her husband has taken on more of the household duties while she works in the spare room. 

‘When I look at my typical day before lockdown I wonder how I kept up with myself and kept everything going,’ says Caroline. ‘I was exhausted a lot of the time and needed to recharge at weekends.

‘I wonder what I was doing it for and what I was trying to prove. But equally, I loved a lot of it and miss it.

‘Funnily enough, I find lockdown just as tiring in some ways. Maybe because it has different pressures.’

While Dr Weaver knows of women who share these experiences, lockdown has also shown us the other side of the coin.

She notes: ‘It can be such a gift to reflect and say “I was doing x, y, and z and I can see now, I don’t want or need to do that.”

‘But that requires a degree of privilege to have your basic needs met – food, clothing and shelter – to be able to do that.’

‘The other scenario is, I do know a number of women for whom everything has sped up and had more responsibility fall to them.’

Key workers like nurse Jamie-Louise Docherty, 28, know this reality all too well. A new mum to a one-year-old son, she’s not currently working with Covid-19 patients but is struggling with not seeing friends.

‘It feels like my support system is missing,’ Jamie-Louise says. ‘I am missing baby classes and meeting up with my mum friends.

‘All of our babies turned one in the last couple of months which we had lots of plans for so it’s just been adjusting to a series of disappointments.

‘But everything else is the same, and probably amplified being in the house so much more like I feel very on edge.

‘My brain is in so many places and it has never been more obvious.’

Jamie is able to divide up household duties with her husband, though she sometimes feels that the mental load of remembering what needs doing falls to her. 

Dr Weaver says in homes like this, many women can end up doing ‘the frantic double shift’ – working hard in their careers only to pick up much of the household and parenting duties when at home with little rest.

‘Women have been, I guess, just gently alert all the time,’ she tells us. ‘We see so much more in our vision so much more that needs doing so I think biologically, we are a little bit predisposed to keep doing. It’s the compromise on our rest that’s enormously impacted on the way our nervous system is able to function. 

‘I think the shift has been a lot slower with men to pick up work, that’s not paid work, so around the house, looking after children, shopping, cleaning, all those other activities.’

Rather than pursuing balance, which can seem all too unattainable, Dr Weaver says it comes down to prioritising and adjusting our feelings on other people’s perceptions of us. 

‘I think what we do is we might rate ourselves or judge ourselves harshly for not being a good enough fill-in-the-blank,’ she explains. ‘Not a good enough colleague, not a good enough mother, daughter, sister, friend.

‘When we live forever in the service of others, which I think a lot of women do with real love in their heart – and my goodness, we need that – we need to be very comfortable saying no when we need to.’

Often rushing women describe needing others to perceive them as kind, thoughtful and selfless, which she says goes to show what a ‘beautiful place’ this desire to be all things to all people comes from. 

‘We’re so stressed, we think it’s all the people and the tasks and the situations and we stop catching a glimpse of the fact that it’s our responses to all of those things and the way we think about those things that makes those things stressful or not.’

For women who don’t have the luxury of dumping anything off their to-do lists, Dr Weaver says it’s all in the breath and finding the joy: ‘One of the things that science has shown that lowers stress hormones more effectively than just about anything is to extend the length of our exhalation.

‘A slow, long exhale activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a branch of the autonomic nervous system, which is the opposite of fight and flight.’ 

She suggests putting your legs up the wall as you lie in bed with your arms stretched out and diaphragmatically breathing for 10 minutes. This is also good for mental clarity and can improve many bodily functions including sleep, digestion, circulation, lowering blood pressure and pulse.

As for finding what feels good, Dr Weaver says: ‘Joy gives us an irreplaceable depth of energy. Think what brings me joy and how, or what brings a smile to my face and how could I incorporate more moments of that? 

‘You might identify something that brings you joy, and it’s going to take an hour and you literally might not have an hour spare but you might have five minutes to yourself at this point or first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, and it’s a time for you to write in a journal or look out the window and watch what nature’s doing.

‘I live in Australia now but I was living in New Zealand when all of the dreadful earthquakes were happening in Christchurch. People didn’t have toilets that flushed for six months or more. 

‘Still to this day when I flush the toilet I think “I’m so thankful for this”. Those little things that are so simple and yet it’s so privileged that we have food and a warm bed. 

‘I hope in putting things into perspective there is a degree of slow down for women inside themselves and what they perceive they need to be happy and fulfilled. It’s often a lot simpler than we think it once was.’

Do you have a story to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Share your views in the comments section below.

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Lockdown with my badly behaved daughter has been a nightmare — I want to send her to boarding school – The Sun

DEAR DEIDRE: I WISH I could send our daughter to boarding school. I can’t cope with her and we have never bonded.

She is eight and my double – badly behaved and with a temper, just like me.

Get in touch with Deidre today

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She was fine in school but we clash at home, so lockdown has been a nightmare.

We also have a boy who’s four. I shouldn’t admit it but I don’t love them the same.

My husband wouldn’t agree to sending her away but can we ever have a good mother-daughter relationship? I am 30 and my husband is 35.

DEIDRE SAYS: Did you and your own mum have a stormy relationship?

Was your daughter’s birth linked to a difficult time for you?

She will be desperate for positive attention from you.

Arrange for your son to do something bonding with your husband regularly, while you do something fun with your daughter.

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World News

Lockdown to be extended for another 3 weeks with only minor tweaks after Boris Johnson orders 'maximum caution'

BRITAIN'S lockdown is to be formally extended for three weeks today – after Boris Johnson urged "maximum caution".

The PM will address the nation on Sunday and is expected to relax some small measures, but the lockdown will carry on in most forms.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

The PM held a key Cabinet meeting today for the Government to examine the coronavirus measures.

By law they have to be looked at every three weeks – and they are set to run for another three from today.

Dominic Raab is set to confirm the news that the measures will carry on at tonight's press conference.

No10 said this afternoon that Boris had told the Cabinet: "We are not going to do anything that risks a second peak.

"We will advance with maximum caution in order to protect the NHS and to save lives.

"We will be guided at every step by the science and the data.

"And we will closely track the impact of any easing of the social distancing measures and we will not hesitate to tighten the rules if required."

However, Scotland and Wales look set to have different rules to England from next week, who have both appeared more cautious in the last few days.

The news came as:

  • It was confirmed Boris Johnson would give an address to the nation on Sunday evening at 7pm
  • The Bank of England warned 1.5m jobs could be lost as UK faces its worst ever recession
  • Piers Morgan accused the Government of being "pathetic" cowards for "banning" ministers from Good Morning Britain
  • It was revealed black Brits are four times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people
  • The Government admitted PPE gowns flown in from Turkey were "useless"
  • Professor Neil Ferguson was defended by his mother-in-law after breaking lockdown to meet his married lover behind his wife’s back

What could be eased in this week's lockdown speech from Boris Johnson?

  • Brits may be told to wear masks on public transport and at work
  • People may be able to exercise more than once a day
  • Brits may be permitted to go outside into open spaces like parks, not just for exercise
  • The PM could confirm when schools could finally reopen
  • He is likely to discuss which type of workplace can open first
  • And Bris will also discuss jow we'll keep the "R rate" – or rate of transmission – low
  • A financial update on how the lockdown is affecting the economy could be on the cards
  • And what the future of shopping could look like may be discussed

Downing Street warned that any changing of lockdown measures next week would be "very limited" – in an attempt to dampen hopes of the nation they will free to act how they wish.

Mr Raab will tip the public to watch Boris Johnson's address to the nation on Sunday for more new information.

No major changes to the nationwide lockdown are expected, and Brits will still have to stay in their homes and avoid seeing pals up close.

This afternoon Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the controls will continue to stay strict north of the border.

She said: “The other possible changes reported in the media today – such as encouraging more people back to work now or opening beer gardens or encouraging more use of public transport – would not, in my judgement, be safe for us to make yet.

"And I believe that for us to drop the clear, well understood ‘Stay at Home’ message right now could be a potentially catastrophic mistake."

The Sun earlier revealed Brits will be set free to enjoy unlimited exercise from Monday.

Cafes could re-open and outdoor spaces soon after, and park picnics may also be on again, as long as people stay two metres apart.

The Scottish leader today insisted all the evidence pointed towards having to continue with the same rules.

She explained: “Our assessment of the evidence leads me to conclude that the lockdown must be extended at this stage.

“We know that progress remains fragile, our estimates suggest there are still significant amounts of people in Scotland infected with this virus.

"Any significant easing of restrictions at this stage would be very very risky indeed."

The PM held talks with Sturgeon and the other devolved administration leaders this afternoon.

Ahead of the meeting, the SNP leader insisted she will "not be pressured" into lifting restrictions early.

She said: If the PM wants to decide to move at a faster rate than Scotland that is his right.

"I hope you understand and agree that I must make judgements informed by the evidence that are right and safe for Scotland.

"I will not be pressured into lifting restrictions prematurely."

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Beauty and Fashion

Ryan Thomas admits lockdown life with a newborn is ‘intense’ & praises Lucy Mecklenburgh after she was viciously trolled

THE first weeks at home with a new baby are, for most new parents, a whirlwind of visits and presents, cuddles and family snapshots.

But for Ryan Thomas, 35, and Lucy Mecklenburgh, 28, who welcomed son Roman on 12 March – just before the UK went into coronavirus lockdown – that 'newborn bubble' has been far from ordinary.

"We have our good days and our bad days but we are coping," Ryan says, but hints the couple – who are also planning their future wedding – are deeply missing quality family time like millions of us.

"I think the hardest thing is not being able to see our families – my little son not seeing my brothers and my nieces and nephews, that’s quite an important thing to do when you have a little newborn baby, but that’s been taken away from us.

"Being a 'celebrity' means nothing when you are going through this, it’s no difference to me and the person next to me – it is daunting and it is intense. The lack of sleep is terrible and you can’t think straight," he admits.

While things are odd for thousands of new parents, Ryan's fiancee Lucy – who's known for her openness and honesty on Instagram with her 1.6million followers – hasn't been shy of discussing the trials and tribulations of being a new mum on lockdown.

In the hope to support others in similar situations, like Ryan, she's spoken about everything from leaky boobs to keeping healthy but, sadly, been victim to trolling too.

Last week she opened up about going to get Roman’s vaccinations, revealing she’s received a mixed response from fellow mums – some attacking her for doing it.

She hit back on her Instagram stories sharing clips of Good Morning Britain’s Dr Hilary discussing the benefits of vaccinations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s about perception of risk. People have forgotten how damaging Polio was, Rabies, Diphtheria, whooping cough. They used to kill thousands and thousands of children. We’ve become complacent because we don’t see that as a risk anymore,” he explained on the ITV morning show.

“Meningitis still does, however, get publicity, but people are more likely to vaccinate their children than the other things they’ve forgotten about. Vaccinations have saved millions and millions of lives.”

Lucy said she thought it was 'important' to share Dr Hilary’s words because she had faced criticism over her decision to vaccinate and Ryan says he supports her decision.

"A lot of people have opinions about parenting but I don’t feel as though they can judge others on what they do with their own child, " he says.

"Everyone has their own way of bringing up a child and that’s fine, I’m not going to preach to other parents about how they should bring up their kids, because I don’t think it’s right for me to do that.

"Lucy is doing it her way and she’s trusting her motherly instincts that she’s doing the right thing and I can only vouch for that and I’m backing her 100%, because it’s right."

"Lucy is amazing though, " he adds.

"We have tag teamed everything so the house stays in order. Food, dishwasher, walks. We have a little routine and Lucy has been like clockwork, she should have a cape on!"

As for the former Towie star, one of the biggest challenges has also been having to isolate away from best friend Lydia Bright.

With their due dates so close to one another, Lydia, 30, and Lucy enjoyed every aspect of their pregnancies together but have been forced apart due to the coronavirus crisis.

But Ryan says – while he's on hand 24/7 to help Lucy – Lydia has been there too from those exhausting night-feeds to muddling through those endless questions every new parent has.

"She’s on the phone to Lydia all the time – her friends, her mum, her dad, they only live round the corner – it’s really weird, but we are sticking by the rules and trying to save lives, like everyone else, it’s important right now. Staying connected is the most important thing."

Lucy is doing it her way and she’s trusting her motherly instincts and I’m backing her 100%, because it’s right."

Ryan and Lucy also have another helper lending a hand with Roman when she can – Ryan's 11-year-old daughter Scarlett.

"Scarlett absolutely adores her little brother, they have a real connection. He looks at Scarlett like she is the best thing that has ever happened."

Ryan is also juggling homeschooling Scarlett when he can but the pair have been treating Lucy to breakfast in bed and bonding over baking, like thousands of parents out there.

"I'm really proud of her, she's doing really well."

*Ryan will be a panellist on today’s WaterWipes Early Days Club LIVE event, via Zoom at 2pm.

Ryan will also be joined by host comedienne, Ellie Taylor and panellists: Myleene Klass, Dr Laura Lenihan and midwife, Marie Louise. For details on how to join today’s Zoom call at 2pm, please click here.

In other parenting new, check out Stacey Solomon’s guide to surviving lockdown with three kids – from cosy date nights with Joe to making a slip-n-slide.

Also, we revealed how Katie Piper has been left feeling "thick" due to homeschooling.

And here's how to buy celebs' favourite loungewear in lockdown.

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Lockdown is the perfect time to remember what you're grateful for

I’m learning a lot about myself during lockdown, and I’m definitely not the only one. 

I’ve started to recognise what triggers my anxiety and the things that push my buttons.

As a result I’ve begun to turn off my phone at nine each night and I won’t watch any news over the weekend because my subconscious seems to lap up the negativity like a piece of white bread in a bowl of gravy. 

I’ve learned that even one glass of wine can make me anxious and that I’m pretty rubbish at messaging people back.

On the other hand, I’ve also recognised the things that bring joy and comfort to my life – like rewatching my favourite TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which gives me all kinds of good security blanket feelings. 

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Reminding myself of all I do have has allowed me to practice gratitude, even during this difficult time. I’ve been doing it along with mindfulness meditation for some years, but these routines have taken on a whole new meaning during my shielding. 

Gratitude fosters optimism and can help turn a bad situation into one that is not all doom and gloom. In essence, it trains your mind to focus on the positives around you. 

Before lockdown, I had been writing in a gratitude journal every day but honestly, with all the stresses of modern day life, I often found it challenging to sit each evening in bed and list the things I was grateful for. 

Often, that one rude person on the bus or that horrible tweet someone sent me would be the only thing I’d focus on. 

But this pandemic has made me so grateful for a whole host of things I’d previously taken for granted – like my health, my family and my cat, Lola. 

This virus has put everything into perspective. Just this week, I haven’t struggled to come up with things I’m grateful for. 

Things like nature and being woken up by birds singing. I’m also lucky to have people who have checked in on me to make sure I have enough food. And I recognise how fortunate I am to have a platform to campaign and be a voice for others in hard times. 

The hardest thing in this world is to live in it, so why not focus on the positives

I’m not saying acknowledging the good things can remove all of life’s woes, but once you start to note the positives you can certainly take on adversity in a much more rational and pragmatic way. 

I’ve faced countless operations, the death of my father and multiple broken bones, but I’ve come through them all. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it, so why not focus on the good stuff.

Ultimately, we all have something to be grateful for. I would be surprised if we come out of this taking our teachers, the NHS, cleaners and carers for granted again. 

I know that once this is over, I will lead a very different life. 

Before, I would berate myself every time I had nothing to do. Even if I was sick and taking a duvet day, I felt guilty for not being productive. I had stopped leaving my home for anything other than work. I wasn’t seeing friends and family or taking time for my wellbeing and self care. 

I’d tell myself off for having a glass of wine, or going to bed past 11 on a ‘school night’.

On the odd night a friend would come over I’d want them gone by nine so I could be asleep by 10.

I struggled with imposter syndrome, thinking I wasn’t good enough to be in the role I’m in and that I was just successful because I was a token, rather than due to all the hard work I’ve put in to my career.

It’s true that hard work pays off but the way I was living my life was not sustainable and lockdown came just as I was heading for a crash – both mentally and physically. 

As a freelancer, my work has slowed slightly during lockdown and I’m trying my hardest not to beat myself up over it.

Instead, I’m acknowledging and feeling grateful that I still have work and can now take time to watch Netflix, read a non-work related book, scroll on Instagram and eat lots of crumpets and ice-cream (not together!). 

In the past few weeks I have learnt that balance is key. You have to work bloody hard to get where you need to be but it’s no fun having success and nothing else to show for it.

If and when normality resumes I will be saying ‘no’ to more work requests and ‘yes’ to friends, family, hobbies and things that make me feel good.

It feels awkward to say that a pandemic-induced lockdown has brought a lot of positives to my life. But I’ve admired how much more inclusive the world has become, with everyone using technology to communicate.

I love how much we’ve reached out to family and friends, and taken pleasure in nature. 

Most of all, I’ve loved getting to know who Samantha is a little better.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing 

Share your views in the comments below

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Beauty and Fashion

Millie Radford reveals lockdown has stopped her enjoying pregnancy as she shares pic of bare baby bump at 21 weeks

MILLIE RADFORD has revealed lockdown has stopped her enjoying pregnancy as she shared a photo of her bare baby bump at 21 weeks.

The 18-year-old, daughter to mum Sue and dad Noel, is due to give birth to a girl in early September.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

The expectant mother took to Instagram yesterday and admitted she was "gutted" she hasn't been able to "enjoy her pregnancy" due to the social distancing measures in place.

Sharing a photo of her blossoming baby bump, she penned alongside it: "21 weeks down, 18 weeks to go

"I’m gutted I haven’t had the chance to enjoy this pregnancy like I wanted to because of lockdown…

"No baby shopping, no listening to babies heartbeat, no sharing this experience with my friends or family."

Despite her upset at not being able to share every small milestone with her nearest and dearest, Millie revealed that she's starting to feel her little girl kick.

She finished off the post: "… but on the plus side I’m starting to feel little kicks from My baby girl 👣💗".

Millie, who has been documenting her pregnancy journey on social media, conceived her baby during a six-month relationship with a boy around her own age. Although, the pair are no longer together but he has vowed to be a part of his baby’s life.

Speaking to Fabulous in March, she said: "We didn’t use protection. I knew there was a risk of pregnancy but I didn’t think it’d be so easy.

"And I didn’t worry about STIs, as I trusted him. I’d known him for years."

After that pregnancy test in early January, Millie knew she had to tell her parents Sue, 44 and Noel, 49, who run a bakery business, they were going to become grandparents for the fifth time.

Although she was nervous telling them, Millie said they couldn't have been more excited: "My parents have always seen me as the ‘good girl’. They are not strict but I knew that telling them would make it real.

"Thankfully, they weren’t disappointed. They were excited."

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Millie's mother Sue Radford welcomed her 22nd child, a daughter named Heidie last month amid the Coronvirus pandemic.

Sue and Noel are also parents to Chris, 30, who no longer lives in the family home; Sophie, 26, who has also moved out; Chloe, 24; Jack, 22; Daniel, 21; Luke, 19; Katie, 17; James, 16; Ellie, 14; Aimee, 13; Josh, 12; Max, 11; Tillie, nine; Oscar, eight; Casper, seven; Hallie, four; Phoebe, three; Archie, two, and Bonnie, one.

Sadly, the couple’s 17th child, Alfie, was stillborn in 2014.

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Coronavirus, Explained: a snapshot of Netflix’s enlightening new show

A new Netflix documentary called Coronavirus, Explained has won plaudits for its educational yet non-alarmist style, as it spotlights the global spread of the illness.

The current spread of coronavirus we’re all facing right now is shrouded in a sea of unknowns. Should we wear face masks in public? Are care homes getting the critical support they need? How will we ever pave a way out of lockdown?

No one has a clear answer to these dilemmas, and wild speculation about cures or ways out – looking at you, Donald Trump – only makes the situation worse. What we need is digestible facts, alongside scientific wisdom that acknowledges the many grey areas of the outbreak. 

That’s where a new Netflix mini-series comes in. Coronavirus, Explained is already racking up praise on Twitter for its clear and honest style of documentary storytelling. Here’s everything you need to know: 

What is Coronavirus, Explained?

Coronavirus, Explained is a new mini-season from the producers of Netflix’s Explained franchise. The critically-acclaimed series takes a forensic look at various issues of the modern age, and breaks them down using a combination of animation, scientific data and expert insight. 

Even before the outbreak of coronavirus in January this year, researchers from the show had been working on an episode about a global health pandemic. This uncanny timing meant they were able to quickly roll out a new mini-series devoted entirely to the coronavirus outbreak.

Working in tandem with the news site Vox, they have combined archive interviews with new developments to examine exactly how Covid-19 became the world’s worst pandemic in recent history. 

Is there a trailer for Coronavirus, Explained?

There sure is, and it gives a good taste of the documentary’s forensic, non-glorified approach to storytelling. Take a look, below.

Why should I watch   Coronavirus, Explained?

It’s hardly like we’re short on coronavirus news right now, but general opinion seems to be that Coronavirus, Explained stands in a league of its own. For starters, it presents the facts in a way that is easy to digest but also non-alarmist. 

Amid the slew of fake news and catastrophisationsurrounding coronavirus, this is a documentary that cuts through the noise. It doesn’t pander to fearful narrative, as the tweet above suggests, but neither does it downplay the threat. 

The first episode features an interview with Bill Gates, whose foundation has worked extensively on pandemic prevention, along with other heavyweights from the world of scientific and public health research. In other words, it’s a shortcut to educating yourself on the background of the virus.

At the same time, this is a fast-moving and uncertain situation we’re all in; and Coronavirus, Explained is entirely honest about the things it doesn’t yet know. It doesn’t pretend to have answers on everything. 

“Something we talk about internally is what we’re often doing is explaining the state of knowledge on something,” the show’s executive producer and Vox founder Ezra Klein tells Hollywood Reporter. “Sometimes the explanation that you can give people that helps them understand why, say, public health authorities or politicians are doing what they’re doing is to show them that this is where the knowledge stops, and after this it becomes guesswork.”

Will the documentary make me feel more anxious?

This all depends on how you manage anxious feelings. If you’re at the point of coronavirus overload and feel clammy just at the thought of taking an indepth look at the spread of coronavirus, this probably isn’t for you (check out these uplifting shows for armchair escapism instead).

On the other hand, the mini-season may actually serve to calm you down, with a lucid and low-key look at the facts. There’s no drama here (we can all agree we’ve had enough of that recently): instead, it presents the science as we know it. And there’s reassurance that comes with arming yourself with the facts, as opposed to getting lost in a slew of hysterical rumours. So really, it’s a judgement call for you.

Where can I watch Coronavirus, Explained?

The first episode of Coronavirus, Explained was released this weekend (26 April) with two more to follow later this summer. While the programme available now looks at how a novel coronavirus became a global pandemic, the next two instalments of the mini-season will focus on the vaccine development and how people are coping with the current situation. Watch the first episode on Netflix now.

Images: Netflix

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Who makes YOUR lockdown top ten? A team of top writers reveal theirs

Who makes YOUR lockdown top ten? A hairdresser, a good cook… but will your spouse make the cut! As the Government suggests you may be able to widen your corona bubble to 10 people, top writers wrestle with this thorny social dilemma

  • One idea for easing lockdown restrictions is to allow us to choose ten friends with whom we could socialise
  • The details are being finalised but it does raise a difficult social conundrum  
  • Broadcaster Jenni Murray would pick her husband first who she hasn’t seen since March 15 

As the Government prepares to ease lockdown restrictions, one idea is to allow us to choose ten friends with whom we could socialise. Details are being finalised — but it does raise a difficult social conundrum. Who would you choose and who would you leave out? Seven writers explain how they would pick their lockdown Top 10.  

As the Government prepares to ease lockdown restrictions, one idea is to allow us to choose ten friends with whom we could socialise

First on the list would be my husband, David, whom I haven’t seen since March 15

My snipper is a shoo-in

Jenni Murray, broadcaster

How I long for the Government to allow us to nominate ten people with whom we’re allowed to socialise. I’m so alone stuck in London with only three dogs and a cat to keep me company.

It’s a conversation-free zone. But deciding who to choose is a dilemma. Do you go for sentimentality or practicality? Give in to family obligation? And what about the people you don’t choose. How much do considerations of offending someone who might never forgive you play a part?

Stripping your social circle down to ten is hard, but I’ve tried to combine head and heart.

First on the list would be my husband, David, whom I haven’t seen since March 15. I’m in London for work and he’s in our home on the South Coast, also alone. The temptation to drive to the sea has been overwhelming but I’ve been a good girl and resisted it.

My two boys and their respective partners would both have to be included. Ed and Liz are in the New Forest and Charlie and Minal are not far from me in North London. I’ve seen Charlie twice as we’ve chatted at a safe distance in my front garden, but there’s no way I could exclude him from the list. He and his brother never fail to play the ‘She loves me best’ game if one feels excluded.

Sally, my best friend and her husband, Lawrie, would be invited. He is the most amusing conversationalist I know and she has been loyally keeping in touch by phone.

Norma is the family’s longest-standing friend, and used to be our dentist. Everyone would be keen to see her. And that leaves two, who would be Lisa B and Annie. Annie colours my hair and Lisa cuts it, and I haven’t seen them since February 11. I’m desperate.

I know my second best friend, Griselda, will be miffed that I have chosen somebody’s else’s husband and my hairdressing team over her. She might never speak to me again. But, hey, in such straitened times, needs must!

If I have learned anything during these past few weeks, it’s not that people matter, it’s that the right people matter

No to my moody mother-in-law 

Jane Green, novelist

With six adult children, there are eight of us living in our suddenly-not-so-big cottage, whose plumbing was clearly not designed for this many people.

I would gladly swap the seven other people for ten new people, because we’re all a bit sick of one another at this point, although the children are very good at cooking.

But if I am allowed a shortlist of ten people with whom to socialise, how do I pick and, more important, who do I pick? Who would I want to see on a regular basis who wouldn’t drive me mad?

My husband will almost certainly want his mother added to the list — but I shall have to protest. When in a good mood, there’s no one more fun, but her mood these days is dark, and the last thing I need is someone else to take care of.

If I have learned anything during these past few weeks, it’s not that people matter, it’s that the right people matter. Life is shorter than we think and, even housebound, there is never enough time.

When I do have time to see people, when I am allowed, I want them to be the people I truly love, the friends who have become family. If you aren’t now prepared to make tough decisions and gently let go of the outer circle, when can you?

Two of my very best girlfriends, Emily and Lisa, are unequivocally at the top of the list. I adore Emily’s husband and baby son but I’m afraid I can’t add them. The list is short and I must be ruthless. Also, they don’t make me laugh. Emily and Lisa, however, are filled with laughter, wisdom and support.

Jennifer is on the list because she’s the perfect drinking buddy, and given that I have taken up serious drinking as my quarantine hobby, I need tips from an expert.

My brother Charlie makes the cut because I miss him terribly, and his presence makes everything better. I’m afraid I’m not having my parents. Not because I don’t love them, but because my father never stops eating and we can barely feed everyone as it is.

My friends Fiona and Andy are on the list because not only are they great conversationalists but also Fiona would make me feel guilty about my new-found slothfulness.

Nancy will expect to be on the list — but she is not. She is wildly competitive, constantly talking about the brilliance of her children, and, frankly, the break I’ve had from this friendship has been something of a welcome relief.

My friend Steve is definitely included because he’s always up for a party. My God, I miss dancing. I’m throwing in Sophie and Stefan because they’re neighbours, so it’s easy to release them if I need to. And for my tenth person, it would have to be my cleaner, Lucy.

I am drowning in cooking, cleaning, laundry and ironing, with little time for much else.

And when Lucy’s back, she is getting a very big pay rise.

My wife is insisting we have Gok Wan over for a complete style makeover

I want Gok Wan for a makeover

Gyles Brandreth, author and broadcaster

I could do with some stardust to brighten up the place. So I am starting with my friend Barry Cryer. No one knows more jokes or tells them more brilliantly. Next up, it will be Sheila Hancock. We went on a canal-boat holiday together just before lockdown and she’s the best company and a vegan, too. I am a vegetarian, but my diet has gone to pieces these past few weeks. Sheila will put me right.

I need some exercise so I’m going to include national treasure Dame Judi Dench and her grandson, Sammy, who has been teaching her how to throw some shapes on TikTok. Drag queen Baga Chipz from RuPaul’s Drag Race is definitely invited. We met doing Pointless Celebrities. He has discovered that I have appeared in drag in my time, so he wants to come and have a good look through my wardrobe.

During lockdown I’ve been dressed in my notorious 1980s jumpers, so my wife is insisting we have Gok Wan over for a complete style makeover. I think all I need is a haircut — which is where Joanna Lumley comes in. Years ago, she did cut my hair in my kitchen simply to prove that she could.

I’d love to have two poets-in- residence. I’m opting for two friends: Pam Ayres and Roger McGough. Roger stood outside my window recently to show me his latest poem Work In Progress. In full it read: ‘So far, so good.’

Oh yes — and since I know him a little, I’m including Boris Johnson. I need him to come over if he will. I would like to find out what’s going on.

Being forced to select just ten comrades reminds me of a party a friend threw to impress a chap at college

I need great mates to motivate me

Hannah Betts, writer

Being forced to select just ten comrades reminds me of a party a friend threw to impress a chap at college, at which everyone had been chosen to bring something to the party.

There was the cool guest, the funny one, the beautiful one. Each had to cater to a different practical or emotional need. When choosing would-be lockdown companions, it’s similarly important to choose people who bring different aspects to our lives.

The first pick for my dream team is my friend Harry, whom I have holidayed with repeatedly while never being anything less than enchanted. He races about doing things while I sleep in, then we are united over books and bitching.

Our friend Ned once negotiated us to the front of a three-mile long Turkish ferry queue while knowing only the word ‘kebab’, so would be required for his diplomatic skills.

My friend Fitz is so joyous she would bring cheer even if the world were ending, which it may yet be. I would also call upon Jules, a real-life psychologist and beyond wise. Eleri would be another obvious choice, a dazzling cook and seamstress. Clem can read tarot cards and administer reiki.

My foodie neighbour, Geoff, is included because he is a man who understands my need for asparagus, decent bread and stinky French fromage. Eliza’s jewellery shop is my happy place, and I see no reason why isolation shouldn’t mean gazing at diamonds.

My family is as belligerent as it is enormous: put more than two of us in a room and warfare ensues. So I would airlift my niece, 15-year-old Issy, into my gang of ten to take care of grooming, social media and pizza-ordering. My boyfriend, Terence, has been the best and worst of lockdown allies: early-rising, over-achieving, living his best life, while I slob about in a state of terminal torpor. He does the garden so I’ll keep him in my iso-bubble, provided he lays off the motivational speeches.

Mine is a very practical list. Those who live beyond London will be excluded

My ABBA heroine — and Dame Joan!

Andrew Pierce, Mail columnist

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I hope they’re right. I’ve been apart from my partner Russell for five weeks as he’s working on the South Coast. If he’s not top of the list, there will be divorce papers in the post.

Next has to be the Mail’s Amanda Platell, one of my best friends. A near neighbour, she performed a modern-day version of Florence Nightingale delivering daily fresh food when I was recovering from the virus. She also never runs out of vodka!

Mine is a very practical list. Those who live beyond London will be excluded, especially my friend Debbie, as that will spare us having to endure her homemade carrot soup, which has the same consistency as lumpy porridge. If I’m allowed to cheat, I would draft in a personal trainer as I can already feel the pressure of the lockdown on my waistband.

My chum Judy Craymer, the genius behind the musical Mamma Mia!, is included as she has every track of Abba music ever written. I want tickets for her show when the West End reopens.

Dame Joan Collins and her husband Percy will have a long list of people who want to be in their top ten. I might just make it. They’re great company, incredibly generous, and they have the best Hollywood gossip. It goes without saying I’ll include my sisters Sue and Shirley. They’d never let me forget if I didn’t. But not my brother Chris, as we argue too much.

Finally, Jane Moore, star of ITV’s Loose Women, who is unflappable, funny and just great to be around. As for her husband Gary, he will be included — but only if there is a suitable barn for him to sleep in if we all stay together.

If you’re going to be limited to a social circle of ten then you don’t want it to be hard work

My manicurist Nicky is a must 

Aggie MacKenzie, TV personality and writer

Obviously my gorgeous, funny sons Rory, 28, and Ewan, 24, would be right at the top of my list. They are both chefs, so we would enjoy the best fun and food imaginable. Mind you, they do like a drink, so our livers — and my bank balance — would take a pounding.

I would need to include their girlfriends (happily so), otherwise the boys would get very grumpy.

Next up would be Nicky, who does my Shellac manicures and pedicures. Much as I love the longevity of Shellac, it is impossible to get off without picking, and is better when removed by a professional.

The ends of my fingers and toes currently look abysmal. Nicky is also great company.

Out of my two best friends Elaine and Alison, I would choose Alison, because I don’t want to be ‘piggy in the middle’ between two people I am very close to but who barely know each other.

I understand the pressure to be diplomatic, but if you’re going to be limited to a social circle of ten then you don’t want it to be hard work. Second, Alison’s partner is far away in Yorkshire and Elaine is happily married to Jeff. (Phew, think I managed to slither out of that one unscathed.)

There’s someone who would probably expect to be on my list but I’m afraid would have to be excluded. Martin is an old, dear (ex-boy)friend who is divorced and lives alone.

Unfortunately, he’s also highly opinionated, competitive, vocal and palatable only in small doses. He gets very touchy if anyone levels any criticism towards him — or his small, similarly yappy dog. Much as I love you, Martin, you will have to find a different bubble to burst.

Finally, my relatively new boyfriend Fin. He and I have been in lockdown together at my house since March 23. It took us a full two seconds to decide that was what we both wanted; each time there’s an announcement that lockdown will continue a while longer, big grins break out across our faces.

I don’t really feel the need for any more people in my cluster, but to make full use of my ten, I would keep it in the family and add Fin’s sister Roz, who introduced us and also conveniently knows my friend Alison.

And I would add Fin’s two sons, Lucas and Hugh, who are the same age as my sons and another couple of cheeky, companionable North London boys.

I have the advantage of having been conditioned by boarding school and being in the Big Brother House

A house of fun — but no smokers!

Rachel Johnson, journalist and author

I have the advantage of having been conditioned by boarding school and being in the Big Brother House. I know that what you want from a ‘housemate’ in order of importance are 1. Cheerfulness. 2. Conversational ability 3. Cooking skills and 4. Cleanliness.

I was tempted to have an all-female household. But I’ve decided that would be too sterile. I want to have a red-blooded House of Fun.

So I would have a few fellow frustrated super-socials: The ‘tastemaker’ Nicky Haslam, without whom no social occasion is complete, as every night would be a party. I’d have the fun-magnet Nicholas Coleridge, who is a jukebox of jokes, accents, and anecdotes, plus Jemima Goldsmith, who sings like Maria Callas for her supper, as well as being incredibly clever and easy on the eye.

I would have P.J. O’Rourke but I fear he’s a smoker and I’d start puffing away like a locomotive. In fact, I’d exclude all smokers (and vegans — the catering!)

My family is too numerous but I insist on having my three adult children whether they liked it or not.

You want a film and TV buff to ‘curate’ evening viewing, so I would nominate as proxy Peter Morgan, the screenwriter of The Crown, as he is both omniscient as well as immaculate.

I’d throw in the TV critic and blonde bombshell Camilla Long, although I’m not sure she can boil an egg, and the celebrity crimper Josh Wood, as most crucially, he could do all our hair.

For romance, I’d choose Joanne Salley, the drop-dead-gorgeous artist and former art teacher who had to leave Harrow as she was too distracting.

Source: Read Full Article


Enjoy lockdown with DIY sushi, healthy nuggets and gourmet sandwiches

Lunch just got WAY more interesting! Enjoy a lighter lockdown with DIY sushi, healthy nuggets for adults, and gourmet sandwiches


Finding the time to eat a decent lunch while you’re working from home can be surprisingly hard.

It’s just too easy to graze almost constantly to alleviate boredom — a couple of pieces of toast and a few biscuits here, or a pot of yoghurt there — without ever sitting down to a proper meal.

Yet despite all the snacks, you’re hungry, unsatisfied and out of sorts at the end of the day. And possibly a pound or two heavier by the end of the week.

If you like to eat little and often, for instance, calculate your day’s snacks and meals according to your SmartPoints Budget, then put them all together in a basket or on a shelf of the fridge in the morning — this will help you to pace yourself throughout the day [File photo]

‘Some people can find themselves a bit lost once their usual routine is taken away,’ says Julia Westgarth, head of programme at WW, formerly Weight Watchers.

‘And even people who are used to being at home may find it stressful to have to cook for themselves —and possibly family members too — twice a day.’

But being able to enjoy a healthy lunch during lockdown doesn’t have to be a chore or an elaborate performance.

Today, as we continue our exclusive WW series to help you to meet the extraordinary challenges of life during lockdown, we’re sharing tasty yet simple suggestions for enjoyable midday meals that won’t pile on unwanted weight.

None requires you to slave for ages in the kitchen when you should be on a Zoom call with your work colleagues.

Another clever tip is to add extra ingredients to a tin of shop-bought tomato soup to make it more satisfying — stirring in pieces of cooked chicken, leftover cooked or tinned vegetables, spinach leaves or a dash of low-fat yoghurt as you heat it up [File photo]

‘A bit of forward planning for your midday meal will really pay dividends and help you to avoid that aimless, last-minute fridge-foraging that usually ends up with you eating more than you intended of foods that won’t help your health or waistline,’ says Julia.

If you like to eat little and often, for instance, calculate your day’s snacks and meals according to your SmartPoints Budget, then put them all together in a basket or on a shelf of the fridge in the morning — this will help you to pace yourself throughout the day.

If you prefer to eat a hot meal, make sure you have a leftover portion of last night’s healthy WW supper to hand to reheat when it is needed.

‘Think about adding interest to your meals with exciting flavours rather than with saturated fats and sugars that contain extra calories,’ Julia advises.

‘Our recipes suggest interesting spices you can easily find in the supermarket. Invest in a few small jars that you can use over and over again.’

How myWW works

Everyone’s weight-loss needs are different, which is why WW offers you three myWW food plans. These regimes are, Green, Blue and Purple — and all are based on SmartPoints and ZeroPoint foods.

Our SmartPoints are calculated according to three distinct components:

  • Calories establish the baseline for how many SmartPoints the food is worth.
  • Saturated fat and sugar increase the SmartPoints value because too much of them is not good for your health.
  • The more protein in any food, the lower its SmartPoints as protein builds and repairs tissue and helps you to feel fuller for longer.

When you join myWW you will be given a customised SmartPoints Budget according to which colour plan you are matched with.

It’s calculated by taking into account your age, height, weight and gender to ensure optimum health and a steady rate of weight loss.

On top of your SmartPoints Budget you can also tuck into delicious foods classed as ZeroPoint foods as they have a SmartPoints value of 0, meaning you can eat them freely. Fruit and non-starchy vegetables are ZeroPoint foods.

To work out which colour to follow, either take WW’s easy online assessment or choose the plan that appeals the most. 

Learn more at

You can boost your SmartPoints Budget by earning FitPoints for activities you do.

On top of this, you also get extra weekly SmartPoints to use on treats and bigger portions and up to four unused SmartPoints from your daily budget can be rolled over.

Another clever tip is to add extra ingredients to a tin of shop-bought tomato soup to make it more satisfying — stirring in pieces of cooked chicken, leftover cooked or tinned vegetables, spinach leaves or a dash of low-fat yoghurt as you heat it up.

‘Try to stick to your regular eating and drinking routine as far as possible,’ advises Julia, ‘and make sure you get up from your desk and sit somewhere else when you have something to eat.’

This will help you to savour your food — even if it’s only for 15 minutes or so — instead of mindlessly eating as you carry on typing. 

This, in turn, can help you to feel more satisfied and calmer when you head back to work at your desk.

If you’ve put on weight over the past month, myWW’s programme means you’ll be spoiled for meal options that can help you to shed the extra pounds you’ve gained during the lockdown.

Miso houmous

Prep time 15 minutes

Serves 8

  • 400g tin chickpeas in water, drained and rinsed
  • 80g white miso paste
  • 60ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • Small handful coriander, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Mixed vegetable crudités, for dipping (we used baby carrots, radishes and celery)

Place the chickpeas in a food processor along with the miso paste, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sesame oil and ginger. 

Blitz until smooth, then scrape the houmous into a serving bowl and stir in the coriander and half of the spring onions.

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan for 3 minutes over a medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden.

Scatter the remaining spring onions and the toasted sesame seeds over the houmous and serve with the crudités.

Miso houmous

Veggie sushi bowl

Prep 10 minutes + pickling

Cook 35 minutes

Serves 4

  • 250g sushi, short grain or Arborio rice
  • 2 large carrots, made into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 large cucumber, made into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 3½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp wasabi paste
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 175g ready-cooked edamame beans
  • 20g pickled ginger

Rinse and drain rice, then cook to packet instructions.

Meanwhile, put the carrots and cucumber ribbons in a small bowl and pour over 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and the agave syrup. 

Add the fresh ginger and set aside to pickle for 10 minutes, then drain and toss with the sesame seeds. Remove the ginger and discard.

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, wasabi paste and remaining vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

Divide the rice between 4 bowls and top with the pickled vegetables, red pepper, edamame beans and pickled ginger.

Now, drizzle over the wasabi dressing and serve.

Veggie sushi bowl

Tofu nuggets with ranch style dressing

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 4

  • 280g block extra-firm tofu
  • 75ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 75g panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp mild chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp garlic granules
  • 200g plain soya yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Juice of ½ lemon, plus lemon wedges, to serve
  • ½ tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
  • ½ tbsp snipped fresh chives, plus extra, to serve
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray

Drain the tofu, then wrap in kitchen paper and place between two plates. 

Weigh down the top plate with a tin and set aside for 15 minutes, then cut the tofu into 3cm cubes. 

Put the almond milk and flour in a small bowl and whisk to a smooth batter. Put the breadcrumbs, paprika, chilli powder, turmeric and garlic granules in another bowl and stir together. 

Dip the tofu into the batter to coat, then roll in the breadcrumb mix and set aside.

Whisk the yoghurt, vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice together in a small bowl and stir in the herbs. 

Mist a large non-stick frying pan set over a medium-high heat with cooking spray and fry the nuggets for 3-4 minutes, until golden. 

You may need to do this in batches. Serve, scattered with extra herbs, with the lemon wedges to squeeze over plus the dipping sauce.

Tofu nuggets with ranch style dressing

Tuna salade Niçoise

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 4

  • 450g new potatoes, halved or larger ones quartered
  • 200g fine green beans, trimmed
  • 1 small round lettuce, leaves separated
  • 2 x 160g tins tuna in spring water, drained and flaked
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

For the dressing

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 5 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp English mustard powder
  • ½ small garlic clove, crushed
  • ¼ tsp dried herbes de Provence

Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add the beans and cook for 4 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the beans are cooked but still firm. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, put all the dressing ingredients in a clean jar. Seal with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Drizzle half the dressing over the potatoes and beans and toss together. 

Add the lettuce and toss again to coat. Arrange the dressed salad on a serving platter or in a large salad bowl, then top with the tuna, capers and olives. 

Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

Tuna salade Niçoise

Griddled aubergine bánh mì

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Serves 4

  • 2 large aubergines, trimmed and cut into 5mm-thick slices
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 70g red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, made into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  •  ½ tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp agave syrup
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 x 70g small white baguettes
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves

Set a large non-stick griddle pan over a medium-high heat. Rub the aubergine slices with the garlic, then mist with cooking spray. Season to taste. 

When the griddle is smoking hot, add the aubergine slices and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until tender and charred, then transfer to a plate and set aside. You will need to do this in batches.

Put the cabbage and carrot into a small bowl. In a small jug, whisk together the oil, vinegar, agave syrup, lime juice and chilli. 

Add the dressing to the cabbage and carrot, then toss together before setting aside.

Split the baguettes lengthways. Layer with the aubergine, cabbage, carrot and mint, then serve.

Griddled aubergine bánh mì

Chicken & halloumi skewers

Prep time 25 minutes + marinating

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 4

  • Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 x 165g skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
  • 220g light halloumi, cubed
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 courgette, cut into chunks
  • 200g fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp harissa pastel 60g rocket, to serve

Soak 4 wooden skewers in a shallow dish of cold water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside. 

Put the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, thyme leaves and chilli in a small jug and whisk to make a marinade.

Put the chicken, halloumi, pepper and courgette in a medium bowl, drizzle over the marinade and stir to combine, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 2 hours. 

Heat grill to high. Thread the marinated ingredients onto the skewers, then grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until the chicken is golden and cooked through. 

Put the yoghurt and harissa paste in bowl and stir together. Serve the skewers with the harissa yoghurt drizzled over, and with the rocket leaves on the side.

Chicken & halloumi skewers

Turkey scotch eggs

Prep time 25 minutes + chilling

Serves 8

  • 9 eggs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g turkey breast mince
  • Handful fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

Bring a pan of water to the boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Carefully add 8 of the eggs using a slotted spoon and cook for 6-8 minutes. 

Drain, fill the pan with cold water and set aside for a few minutes to allow the eggs to cool, then peel and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Meanwhile, mix together the onion, garlic, turkey mince and herbs.

Divide the meat mixture into 8. Dust the work surface with flour, roll each portion of mince into a ball, then flatten into a circle large enough to encase an egg. 

Put an egg in the centre and use your hands to mould the mince around it so it’s completely covered.

In a shallow bowl, beat the remaining egg. Put the flour on a plate and the breadcrumbs on a separate plate. Roll each egg in the flour, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Put on a baking tray and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the eggs, in batches, for 1-2 minutes, until starting to colour. 

Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.

Turkey scotch eggs

Prep 15 minutes

Cook 15 minutes

Makes 32

  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 90g dried apricots
  • 70g dried cranberries
  • 70g raisins
  • 90g porridge oats
  • 75g unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 30g wheat bran
  • 50g chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 50g skimmed milk powder
  • 30g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ripe banana, cut into chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4. Mist a 22cm x 32cm baking tray with cooking spray and line with baking paper, leaving a little hanging over the edge.

Put the dried fruit, oats, sunflower seeds, wheat bran, nuts, milk powder, flour, cinnamon and salt into a food processor, then blitz until the dried fruit is finely chopped but not puréed.

Add the banana, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and blitz again until just combined.

Press the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the baking tray on a wire rack, then lift out on the paper and cut into 32 bars.

Fruit & grain snack bars

 12 golden rules for resisting the munchies

Reaching for a biscuit when you’re stressed or bored may seem instinctive, but there are strategies you can use to change the way you behave, says Dr Gary Foster, WW chief scientific officer. 

Ensure you have healthy alternatives to hand and measure out all snacks into healthy-sized portions

Here are his golden rules to help you when temptation strikes.

Hide food

‘Make sure that you can’t see food you’re likely to eat when feeling stressed — put it in a tin or cupboard out of view,’ Dr Foster advises. Another good idea is to work and eat in different areas.

Measure out snacks

Ensure you have healthy alternatives to hand and measure out all snacks into healthy-sized portions. 

This means portion size has already been decided — which is not within your control when you’re bored or anxious. You won’t be able to cut a large slice of something (then help yourself to a second to ‘neaten’ it off afterwards!)

Savour each bite

Properly pay attention to your food by sitting down to eat and savouring each bite — even if it’s only for a snack. Don’t chew mindlessly as you roam about.

Shift focus

The second you feel stressed and drawn to food, make yourself do something different to shift the focus of your attention. Give a friend a call or walk around the garden, for instance. Remind yourself that cravings are only patterns of activity in the brain that will pass after about 20 minutes.

Deny yourself

When you start thinking about reaching for a snack, tell yourself: ‘I’m not really hungry. I’m just stressed. And eating will make things worse.’

Take a breath

Deep breathing can be an effective way to calm strong emotions. Concentrate on inhaling slowly and deeply for a count of ten and then releasing the breath. 

Repeat several times. This will reduce the tension in your upper body and reduce negative feelings. This can help get you through without turning to food.

No-guilt treats 

If all else fails, opt for a ZeroPoint snack that takes a while to prepare, such as a small fruit salad.

Truly hungry?

Consider if you are actually hungry. Genuine hunger is unmistakable — you get a rumbling stomach and may even feel weak if you haven’t eaten for a while. Pause and analyse your feelings. Do you really need food or are you just bored, or feeling miserable? 

Head outdoors 

Even if you can only manage a trip around the block, take your daily exercise break if you can and try to focus on everything around you, while practising social distancing. This will make you feel more mindful and help to reduce stress.

Be grateful

It can be easy to focus on the negative. Instead, list three things you’re grateful for. This can help to break the loop of an unhelpful thought pattern that could lead you to snack.

Get active

All activity is good activity. Research shows you’ll lose 20 per cent more weight if you follow a programme that combines exercise and healthy eating than by diet alone.

Earn points

Boost your SmartPoints Budget by earning FitPoints for any activity — from an online yoga class to a walk. Strength building (5 points), running (9 points) and high-intensity workouts (5 points) earn the most, but all exercise counts. 

(Based on the latest science, FitPoints is a personalised measurement of your activity based on height, weight, age and gender, and will vary between members).

Even if you can only manage a trip around the block, take your daily exercise break if you can and try to focus on everything around you, while practising social distancing [File photo]

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World News

Lockdown restrictions begin to be eased worldwide

A tentative easing of coronavirus lockdowns has gathered pace around the world, including the reopening of local shops that many of India’s 1.3 billion people rely on.

The US states of Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska also began loosening lockdown orders on their pandemic-hit businesses, even as the country’s confirmed Covid-19 death toll soared past 50,000 – and health experts warned that an easing of restrictions may have come too early.

In Europe, France, Belgium and Italy have all laid out plans to ease regulations, while in Spain children are set to be allowed outside for the first time in weeks tomorrow. But Sri Lanka tightened its restrictions amid concerns of a second wave of cases. 

The relaxation of the strict Indian lockdown came with a number of conditions and did not apply to hundreds of quarantined towns and other hotspots that have been hit hardest by the outbreak. India has recorded at least 775 deaths, with many poorer people living in slum conditions too crowded for social distancing terrified by the outbreak. 

Last week, India also allowed manufacturing and farming to resume in rural areas to ease the financials fears of millions of daily wage-earners left jobless by the lockdown imposed on March 24. Shopping malls remain closed nationwide, with India’s restrictions only allowing people out of their homes to buy food, medicine or other essentials.

Elsewhere in Asia, authorities reported no new deaths on Saturday for the 10th straight day in China, where the outbreak originated.

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South Korea reported just 10 fresh cases, the eighth day in a row its daily total came below 20. There were no new deaths for the second straight day.

But in Sri Lanka, the lockdown was tightened, not eased, as authorities juggle public health against the health of shut-down economies. A month-long curfew during daytime hours had been partially lifted in more than two thirds of the country.

However, it reimposed a 24-hour lockdown nationwide after a surge of 46 new infections on Friday, the highest increase in a day on the island. The new curfew remains in effect until Monday.

On Saturday, the global death toll climbed toward 200,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The actual death toll is believed to be far higher.

Pope Francis appealed to people to pray for funeral home workers, saying: ‘What they do is so heavy and sad. They really feel the pain of this pandemic.’

In Europe, Belgium revealed plans to ease its lockdown from May 4, with the resumption of non-essential treatment in hospitals and the reopening of textile and sewing shops to enable people to have face masks.

Bars and restaurants would be allowed to start reopening on June 8, although Belgian prime minister Sophie Wilmes also cautioned that a surge in infections could alter the timeline, and that ‘nothing is set in stone’.

Children in Spain will be allowed outside for the first time in weeks on Sunday, when a total ban on letting them outside is relaxed.

After 44 days indoors, they will be allowed to take one toy or scooter with them but not play together during adult-supervised one-hour excursions no further than one kilometre from home.

Italy announced that free protective masks will be distributed to nursing homes, police, public officials and transport workers, preparing for the return to work of millions of Italians when lockdown restrictions are eased from May 4.

In France, the government is preparing to ease one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns from May 11. The health minister detailed plans on Saturday to scale up testing to help contain any new flare-ups.

Testing shortages are a critical problem elsewhere, too, including in Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation, where there are fears that the country could become a pandemic hotspot.

Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and four other major cities warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse or already overwhelmed.

In Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon, officials said a cemetery has been forced to dig mass graves because there have been so many deaths. Workers have been burying 100 corpses a day – triple the pre-virus average.

In the US, Republican governors in Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas and barbershops to reopen, while Alaska opened the way for restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops and other businesses to open their doors, all with limitations.

Some Alaskan municipalities chose to maintain stricter rules.

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