Can Introducing Healthy Habits Combat Stress And Improve Nutrition?

From superfoods to Swisse multivitamins, Viva’s Emma Gleason kicks off her 21-day wellness journey

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How often do we take pause and assess our health? For many of us (myself included), it’s commonly put in the “I’ll get to that later” basket. Nutrition and taking your vitamins are key pillars of wellbeing, but too often it can be an afterthought, especially during periods of stress.

We all cope with stress differently, and for me, it manifests in my eating habits. I don’t feel particularly healthy right now, and wellness has taken a backseat this year; I’ve been drinking too much coffee and not eating regularly, though I did quit smoking (again) in February, so that’s something.

I enjoy cooking and only get takeout once every week or two, but I often find myself making the same rotation of meals, and I worry that I'm missing variety or some key nutrients. At 32 years of age, I should be better at this, and have some accountability.

With all this in mind, I decided it was time to initiate some healthy habits and be more considered about what I’m eating. Part of that shift has been incorporating Swisse Women’s Ultivite Multivitamin and Swisse Ultivite Multivitamin + Superfood Blend into my diet to help make up for what is likely lacking.

Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin + Superfood Blend is a new oral powder that can be mixed with water, juice or smoothies. It can be taken instead of Swisse Women’s Ultivite tablets if you have difficulty taking tablets, or simply like to have some variation in your nutrition supplements.

Designed to boost your energy, enhance mental clarity and support general health, they also acknowledge that though not everyone’s eating is always perfect, you can fill some gaps in your diet if needed.

The formulation of Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin + Superfood Blend contains over 40 ingredients including vitamins, herbs, superfoods like acerola cherries and matcha powder, alongside nourishing green vegetables like kale and broccoli. Some of the key vitamins include B vitamins — which help our bodily systems work together, support energy production and brain function — as well as immunity-boosting vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. Swisse Women’s Ultivite tablets contain 50 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and herbs designed to support women’s nutritional needs.

I spent 21 days taking Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin and the Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin + Superfood Blend, and eating a different “superfood” every day to incorporate healthy habits into my daily life with the aim to give my approach to wellness a soft reboot. While I still juggled stress, work and a lockdown, at least I knew I was getting vitamins, nutrients and some superfoods in, thanks to Swisse. To hold myself accountable, I have kept a diary for the full three weeks — the first instalment of which you can read below.

Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin + Superfood Blend. Photo / Supplied

DAY 1: TUESDAY AUGUST 11

Superfood: Seaweed

I picked a hard week to start a new routine, though maybe it’s a good distraction. We buried my grandmother yesterday, and I spent the weekend with my family drinking wine and homebrew beer, and eating simple carbohydrates. Not the healthiest, but I have no regrets. Back to work, throwing myself into a regimen of healthy habits was just what I needed.

I woke up tired, quickly got dressed and popped a couple of the Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin + Superfood Blend sachets in my handbag and walked to the office. Once there I mixed a sachet into some cold water and settled into my desk. First thoughts are, it tastes pretty good — mellow and a little fruity, not at all what I was expecting compared to other vitamin powders I’ve tried before.

After work I had a craving for Japanese food, and though there is a rather good restaurant underneath our apartment, I was determined to cook all my meals during this 21-day challenge. So, I bought some dried seaweed and made donburi for dinner — wondering as I ate it why I didn’t make this meal more often, and remembering how much I like seaweed. I included beef for iron and edamame beans too.

Seaweed is considered a superfood as it’s a rich source of iodine which is important for the thyroid gland and its hormone production. New Zealand soil is low in iodine (something I never realised before). Seaweed contains iron and vitamin C, and it’s one of the superfoods Swisse have included.

I finish day one feeling committed, and good that I’m putting some more vitamins and nutrients into my diet.

DAY 2: WEDNESDAY AUGUST 12

Superfood: Broccoli

So much for routine and getting back to the office and normality; last night it was announced that Auckland was going to level 3 due to a new outbreak of Covid-19. I felt anxious following the announcement, though relieved that they were taking swift action.

I raced to work to get my things in order, grateful that I took some sachets into the office yesterday, and sat down at my desk to have a glass of Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin + Superfood Blend. By day two I’ve worked out that it’s easiest if you make a slurry first, then fill your glass up with water.

Health has been a heightened awareness for everyone this year, understandably, and last lockdown I got quite paranoid about germs; I wasn’t working, and didn’t have much else to focus on other than observing lockdown. This time is different, since I am lucky enough to have a job, but I knew it was important to maintain a balanced routine and prioritise my health.

I packed up my desk at work and relocated to our home office — actually just a corner in our bedroom. I also set about writing a meal plan for the coming weeks, factoring in all the superfoods I was going to try.

Today was broccoli, another green favourite of mine. Broccoli is considered a superfood because it contains vitamins C, A and K, nutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, folate, antioxidants, and a lot of fibre.

I cooked it in a hot pan with some olive oil and chilli flakes, making sure it kept some crunch. I served it with slow-cooked lamb and homemade flatbread — simple but delicious and nourishing

DAY 3: THURSDAY AUGUST 13

Superfood: Kale

Back in the groove of working from home, I’m grateful for the routine of both work and nutritious(ish) eating. I’m kicking off this healthy habits reset with all the green things – they just feel so inherently nourishing and natural, and somehow make everything that’s hard feel a bit better.

It feels oddly comforting to be back at home, and I’ve quickly settled back into my lockdown routine — I wake up early, take a Swisse Women’s Ultivite, have a coffee, and then work until the 1 pm press briefing. After that I work until the news comes on, then make dinner (my partner is on dishes duty and tea service).

Our pantry is pretty barren, as we hadn’t done a shop since before the move to level 3, and didn’t want to do any panic buying following the announcement. We have some vegetables, a little meat, and some dry goods. I’m thankful for the Swisse nutrients, and I feel less guilty about not being more organised.

We had kale with dinner — a vegetable I love and use often, as it lasts so well in the fridge, unlike other greens. Kale is high in vitamin A, C and K, as well as calcium and potassium. As it's a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli and cauliflower) it also contains a chemical compound called glucosinolates that have a protective role in disease prevention.

DAY 4: FRIDAY AUGUST 14

Superfood: Celery

Another day working from home and trying to embrace things that foster wellbeing, which seems to be the theme of this diary. It’s easy to slide into bad habits when ensconced at home.

Today I feel determined, and decide to tackle the big bunch of celery I bought. I make celery juice in the morning, a favourite of mine but something I rarely have time for on a normal work morning. I add a sachet of Swisse Ultivite Women's Multivitamin + Superfood Blend and feel rather virtuous. Is this what wellness-people feel like all the time? I also avoid coffee today, instead drinking chamomile tea and water. I even take a break to do stretches, realising how stiff and sore I am.

Finished with work for the day and inspired by the lush green bunch of celery, I make a celery salad to go with dinner. Dicing the stalks and tossing them with toasted hemp seeds, before blitzing the celery leaves with lemon juice and flaxseed oil to make a thick dressing, and toss it through the salad. I feel quite proud of myself, and the flaxseed oil and hemp help bring out the flavour of the celery, and the whole thing is a very vibrant shade of green and surprisingly delicious.

Celery is a great source of fibre, vitamin K, and folate — plus the polysaccharides found in celery have also been shown to help with digestion.

Photo / Babiche Martens

DAY 5: SATURDAY AUGUST 15

Superfood: Pomegranate

I ended up working today, so put some soup in the slow cooker (chicken, carrot, onion, and the leftover celery that’s looking a little sad).

Seeking some emotional nourishment through food, I have a craving for pomegranate. Alas it’s out of season at the moment but, I needed a sentimental pick-me-up in a busy weekend, so I had pomegranate juice — mixing in some Swisse Women’s Multivitamin + Superfood Blend.

I love pomegranate, and would eat it daily when living overseas two years ago. The flavour and texture are full of warm memories for me, and so helps with my mental wellbeing. Food can be a powerful way to access memories, and harnessing nostalgia is a way we deal with stress and trauma. The flavour of pomegranate takes me back to sitting in my friend's kitchen in the Mumbai heat, wandering the markets in Tehran devouring one bought from a stall, and eating pomegranate salad at Christmas in Blenheim — all of which feels very far away this year, and is a loss I’m grappling with internally.

Pomegranate is one of the superfoods in Swisse Women’s Multivitamin + Superfood Blend. Delicious and good for you, the fruit contains vitamins A, vitamin C, calcium and potassium - plus the antioxidant activity of pomegranate is three times higher than red wine or green tea.*

Photos / Emma Gleason

DAY 6: SUNDAY AUGUST 16

Superfood: Parsley

Sunday was much like Saturday, and I spent the day writing — a nice distraction, and there’s little else to do during lockdown when living in an apartment. I sat by the open window writing, and drinking Swisse Women’s Multivitamin + Superfood Blend mixed with water and some lemon juice.

The knowledge that we had plenty of leftover soup took the stress of dinner away. To elevate the soup on its second day, I made parsley pesto: blitzing up a deep green paste from herbs, walnuts (virtuously hand-shelled) and lemon. Though a common herb, parsley is quite exceptional — containing vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate and iron. I appreciate that it keeps well in the fridge too!

DAY 7: MONDAY AUGUST 17

Superfood: Goji Berries

Today was rough, stress was getting to me. Feeling a little emotionally chaotic, I lined up an assortment of vitamins and supplements — Swisse Women’s Multivitamin + Superfood Blend, something for hair and nails, and some fish oil. I spent the day snacking on goji berries, a healthy option as they contain vitamins A and C, selenium (something not found in New Zealand soil), plus a potent antioxidant known as zeaxanthin that supports eye health. Goji berries are one of the superfoods in the Swisse Women’s Multivitamin + Superfood Blend.

The verdict so far: One week in, and though I’m feeling mentally quite stressed, healthwise I feel great. Miraculously my skin looks really good, and my digestion has been far better than usual. Incorporating Swisse Women’s Multivitamin + Superfood Blend into my daily routine has been easy, and eating more superfoods has (with a little planning) been relatively effortless too. Next week will reveal whether I keep the momentum up under lockdown, and how my stamina and energy levels fared.

*M Gil et al. 2000, J Agric Food Chem, 48(10):4581-9

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Supplementary to and not a replacement for a balanced diet. If symptoms persist contact your healthcare professional. 

The Swisse Ultivite Multivitamin range is available at Countdown, Chemist Warehouse and select Unichem & Life Pharmacies

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