What sort of food have you been eating during lock down? Has your diet changed to any great degree or is it the same as it was?
One of the side effects of lock down, according to a news story I heard last week, is that there is an emerging problem of weight gain. There's probably a number of reasons for this including, the type of food people have been eating during the last 3 months, the lack of exercise because gyms and parks have been closed, and the rise in cortisol from the stress people have been feeling from the disruption they've had to deal with. It's a cocktail of circumstances that makes the perfect environment for weight gain.
The stockpiling of flour, sugar and pasta gives an indication of why people will emerge from lock down needing to shed a few kilos. These types of substances create inflammation and weight gain at the best of times, but when they're combined with a lack of exercise to burn off the excess intake and kilos, there's going to be repercussions.
It's not only the fact that these inflammatory foods are being eaten, but it's the quantity and the frequency, as well as other factors that exacerbate the problem of weight gain.
Being at home all the time tends to make people eat more than they usually would if they are going to work outside of home. When you 'go to work', you tend to have set break times when you can eat, and many people take their own lunch with them, giving them a limited supply of food to eat. But when you're working from home, it's only a few short steps to the refrigerator or the pantry that wants to entice you with as much food as you care to eat, whenever you want to eat it.
Being at home for weeks on end and not knowing when things will change can really affect your mood and your anxiety levels. One of the most common things people do when they feel stressed and down, is eat. And guess what type of foods we crave when we feel this way? Yep.....things made from flour and sugar aka cakes, biscuits, donuts, bread....and the list goes on. The reason we reach for these types of foods is because they tend to make us feel good. Consuming processed carbohydrates such as cakes and biscuits and chips causes dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter), to be released and light up the pleasure centre in the brain which, in turn leads to cravings of these types of foods.
The highly processed carbohydrate foods also tend to be the ones that are found in packets and easily stored for long periods without spoiling, so in a time of crisis, people will tend to grab these longer life type products off the supermarket shelf and stash them away 'just in case'.
But 'just in case' seems to creep up and present itself when you're having a hard day, or you're bored, or watching a movie on tv...every night, and pretty soon you've chowed through your emergency stash, (you know, the stash you have in case 'they' say you can't leave home at all!), so of course, you need to resupply your pantry, just in case! And so the cycle begins...and continues.
And unfortunately, one day you emerge from your isolation to return to work and wonder why your work clothes feel overly tight, and you don't recognise that person you just saw in the reflection of the glass doors as you walk into your office building.
But let's face it....we can't blame COVID 19 entirely for the ever-growing problem of overweight and obesity in our society. This is a problem that has been increasing for years.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in Australia in 2017-2018, (1 in 4) or 25% of children aged 2-17 were classed as overweight or obese, and (2 in 3) or 67% of adults were overweight or obese. These statistics are a telltale sign that something needs to be done about this growing problem because obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer and other chronic conditions.
So what can you do if lock down has left you with a few unwanted kilos?
First of all, hopefully one of the good things that has happened for you is that you have discovered some cooking skills (that may have been in hibernation!) as well as the joy of your own home cooked meals.
Keep cooking and making your own meals!
If you've been living off pasta and high carb packet foods, now is the time to start putting more fresh veges into your meal plan. Choose greens such as silverbeet, cabbage, Asian greens, green beans, peas and brassicas such as broccoli and cauliflower. These veges all lend themselves to beautiful stir-fry meals, and when paired with some onion, carrot, garlic, ginger and protein, you have a wholesome and nutritious meal on your plate.
And don't forget to add fresh fruit into your daily menu. I have spoken to many clients who don't eat any fruit at all because they are worried about the sugar content. Fruit is perfectly balanced with the fibre and sugar and as long as you don't go crazy and eat too much - a couple of pieces of fruit each day is what your body needs. It supplies a range of vitamins and minerals and helps to satisfy your need for sweet foods.
Try not to eat between meals, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Snacking is a hindrance to weight loss, as is alcohol...sorry!
And don't forget to drink water - 2 - 2 1/2 litres/day as a general rule of thumb. if you drink it between your meals, it helps to curb any hunger you might feel.
Of course, if you need help, I'm only a phone call or email away.
If you want something structured to help you lose those excess kilos, check out Metabolic Balance here.
Enjoy your journey to health and wellness,