The lockdown may have kept most of us safe from the coronavirus, but it has not been easy to separate ourselves from our loved ones or from our ‘normal’ lives. We have all had to adapt. No more socializing with family and friends. Work from home if we still have work, educate the children at home, just go out to eat / medicine / exercise.
It was tough. On our waists. More time at home has often meant more time to raid the refrigerator. We’ve fed our loneliness with comforting (and fattening) treats. We have also enjoyed a drink or three of something in the evening. Sales of snacks and alcohol in supermarkets are at record levels.
More people turned to exercise during the confinement, with running, walking and cycling being popular. However, much of the additional exercise was done by people who were already in very good shape, while many of the TV addicts remained in their layers.
Now that the blocking measures are beginning to relax, we can engage in more interactions with other people, while observing social distancing and wearing a mask in stores and other places, of course. We are venturing out, visiting loved ones, taking vacations or even traveling abroad, going to restaurants and pubs, and getting back to fast food to go.
In May 2020, the Daily mail reported that two-thirds of the British had gained weight. In a recent study, King’s College London and Ipsos MORI surveyed 2,254 people, and nearly half (48%) said they had gained weight during confinement and nearly a third (29%) said they had drunk more alcohol. Almost half of the respondents also reported feeling more anxious or depressed than usual. We have gained weight and we are not happy with it.
So what do we do now?
We need to break the habit of rewarding ourselves with extra food (and drink). A couple of extra chocolate chip cookies a day could add more than 1,000 calories to our weekly intake. Over a three week period, that would increase our weight by one pound, without any other change in our eating habits.
Going out for fresh air will help. Taking a walk or gardening will not only distract us from food, but it will also burn off some of those extra calories. And if we achieve a more vigorous exercise the effects are more noticeable. Exercise can also curb your appetite, so grab your hiking boots!
Eating sensible portions will also reduce the calorie load. Try meals in which at least half of the plate is covered by fruits and / or vegetables; potatoes do not count as they are classified as carbohydrates. For best results, cook from scratch. Limit or ideally stop snacking between meals. It’s okay to be hungry before the next meal and we will appreciate the food more.
If you’re not sure where all your calories are coming from, keep a food diary.
Above all, do not panic. We can lose locked up love handles almost as easily as we gain them by eating sensibly and savoring, rather than devouring, our food.