CSIRO Dietitian Pennie McCoy Explains How To Get Your Health Back On Track

CSIRO Total Wellbeing, diet, exercise
Pennie McCoy

CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian

Jun 16, 2020

CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietitian Pennie McCoy gives us her tips to stay healthy during Covid-19 lockdown period and beyond.

Your life has been turned upside down, your routines (and patience!) are shot, and, is it just you, or does that fridge just seem to get closer every time you look at it?

You’re not alone. New research from Australia’s science agency, CSIRO has found that lockdown has taken its toll on our health, with respondents emerging from COVID-19 lockdown feeling their exercise (66 per cent), and diet (36 per cent) had worsened to some degree, with two in five indicating they have gained weight during the outbreak. 

That’s not all. Weight is up, and wellbeing is down, with the research also revealing that emotional wellbeing (41 per cent) worsened during lockdown, with almost 60 per cent of respondents reporting a negative shift in their overall satisfaction with life.

With concern for the future (80%) only adding to the stress in our lives, it’s clear the New Normal is one of uncertainty and unease. The Covid-19 comedown is real – so how do we battle it?

CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietitian Pennie McCoy gives us tips to confronting the lockdown low and putting our best selves forward as we enter the new normal.

meditating, Kamalaya

Harness your new habits

“There were some positive things to come out of lockdown – most notably, the increase in home cooking, with people making the most of additional time at home, stocked-up pantries  and a new financially-savvy mindset. A quarter of respondents even said they were eating more vegetables and a third were talking to their family more. 

“These new habits will form a great base as we start to find structure in the new normal. The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, encourages people to explore new recipes, batch cook and look for ways to increase vegetable intake. By filling up on the important food groups there is less room for those tempting indulgences. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, and home cooking is a great way to get the family involved (and spread the load!)”

butternut squash
Mustard Glazed Butternut Squash

Ditch the junk, get rid of the funk

Of the respondents who gained weight during the COVID-19 outbreak, 61 per cent reported an increase in junk food consumption and 63 per cent reported an increase in snacking. 

“Proximity to the fridge no doubt took its toll on our waistlines during lockdown but with restrictions lifting, you have fewer reasons to stay inside and snack! 

“We know that weight and wellbeing go hand in hand so take this new freedom by the horns and use your time productively. Plan walks with friends to stay accountable, take online gym classes, or ease into an outdoor group session. You can also think about increasing incidental activity and ways to keep your body moving throughout the day.” 

Reconnect and reenergise 

Over 90% of respondents felt their social connections had worsened during lockdown so now is your chance to come out of the Covid-19 cocoon and reconnect with friends and family.

All feeling a bit much at the moment? Re-entry anxiety is completely normal.

TWD Kindness Count Laptop

“If you’re not quite ready to face the world like before, try finding a digital community to connect with like the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Facebook group which brings together an amazing array of like-minded people who are going through the same journey as you.”

Frameworks to fall back on

“Accountability is a big part of pursuing your goals so start tracking! Tracking tools are essential to help you reset and implement your routine post COVID-19 lockdown.  For example, food and exercise diaries are a great way to monitor your food intake, exercise habits and mood too. Research also shows that those who track their weight with a weight management program lose more weight.

“The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet online food and exercise tracker helps to monitor your progress so you can adjust your food choices and portion sizes to align more closely with your nutrition needs.”

Grasp that opportunity while it lasts

We have been presented with a unique opportunity to enter a better new normal when it comes to our health and wellbeing – one that we own and control, despite the craziness of what’s happening around us.

“Grasp that opportunity but most importantly, be kind to yourself! Positive psychology activities such as journaling daily kindness, gratitude and self-reflection can play a huge part in keeping your mind light, and your body lighter,  which is why we’ve incorporated these tools when developing the new CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program.

“The new normal is one you can tackle with a renewed sense of purpose and with the right tools to get you there, there’s no stopping you – let’s go!”

About Pennie McCoy

Pennie McCoy

Pennie McCoy is an  Accredited Practising Dietitian with over 15 years of experience in a range of practices, including hospital dietetics, research as well as corporate nutrition, and is passionate about empowering people to make healthier choices to meet their health and nutrition goals.

Currently, she provides online coaching sessions for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Online program to hundreds of members, delivering nutrition counselling for general healthy eating, menu planning and dietary advice.

The Carousel would like to thank Pennie McCoy for her story.


By Pennie McCoy

CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian

Pennie McCoy is CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian with over 15 years of experience in a range of settings including hospital dietetics, research as well as corporate nutrition. She is passionate about empowering people to make healthier choices to meet their health and nutrition goals. She has been a media spokesperson for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet and Digital Wellness with recent appearances on Sunrise, Today and A Current Affair.



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