Keeping a Lockdown On Your Weight
Many of us are struggling with weight gain, stress and an uncertain predicament
Being confined indoors, how many of us are struggling with weight changes, stress, and an uncertain predicament? I am one of the many who happens to be juggling between working from home, eat from home, workout from home, shopping from home, and home-school kids too!
We all thought it was short-term and that we could cope with this setback but the reality is proving to be otherwise. Covid brought forth abrupt changes to day-to-day schedules which led to a couch potato lifestyle alteration for the majority. Amidst all the mental and physical challenges that come our way, it’s up to us to decide what needs to be done.
Well, the only good news about this whole virus thing is that we are all in this together and that is reason enough to take control of our health. While immunity is our prime concern today, I feel we should prioritize weight management too as this would certainly enhance immunity against disease and improve recovery due to illness or injury. If we could ask ourselves, ‘What can I do with what I’ve got?’ instead of saying, ‘I’m not going to be able to…’, then we can surely turn things around!
A survey done by King’s Hospital, UK showed that 48 percent of the respondents from their survey had put on weight during the lockdown. In particular, experts believe being obese leads to the reduction of adiponectin, a substance that protects the lungs. Also, Rundle et al. hypothesized that increased unstructured time during the current COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate obesity risk factors in children. I suppose, whether it's kids or teens or adults or even our pets - we are all in a pickle.
Lack of sleep, decreased physical activity, snacking after dinner, stockpiling as a safety measure, eating because of stress or plain boredom or simply because of ready access (a tiptoe to the fridge perhaps!), are behaviors linked to weight gain. Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a "hunger hormone," may have a role in erratic eating patterns.
So let’s see what small changes we can do to reverse lockdown weight gain…
Create a Calorie Deficit
As we have become more inactive and are not burning as many calories as before, it’s advisable to cut back on intake. Carbohydrates and fats which are the main energy-giving foods should be taken in modest quantities. Include low carbohydrate, high fibre options such as pulses (dhals), millets, vegetables, fruits etc., and a recommended dose of healthy fats.
Ordering Out or Dining In?
Yes. We now have broader access to ordering out as well as home-cooked food. Isn’t that plentiful? Need you be reminded that you do have the extra time to experiment with newer and healthier recipes? It’s about time we realized the negative impact of ordering in. This makes our meals all the more unhealthy especially if the meals are fast-food or nutritionally unbalanced. Prefer home-cooked meals as often as possible as this would be lower in calories as well as Trans fats. And when you do order outside be more nutrient-conscious!
Plan a Meal
To avoid unhealthy snacking and binge eating, try to stick to your previously regular schedule that will help get your habits back on track. Scheduling and deciding your meal will train your mind to be hungry at the correct intervals. The importance of timely and regular meals cannot be over-emphasized. Body metabolism works best when nutritious food is ingested at regular intervals, rather than erratically.
You’ve Got to Know in Advance
Don’t second guess what you want to eat-especially when you’re hungry. Impulsive eating is a big NO. Meals should be prepped in advance and be mindful of what you eat. Try to distinguish boredom and real hunger. In some instances, even thirst can be misinterpreted as hunger.
Stay away from people – Not from exercise!
The physical and medical benefits of exercise are well known. Exercise will boost your immunity as well as it would strengthen your respiratory and circulatory system. If Covid is demotivating you, then exercise is a mood elevator and has anti-anxiety effects. Look out for ways to exercise within whatever space or equipment you’ve got at hand. On the spot jogging to planking to lifting light weights- it's your call. Schedule a routine that’s doable and fun.
It’s all in the mind!
Whoever we may be- whether a loser or gainer or a maintainer, it all comes down to our attitude and approach to our lifestyle and habits. Like everything else in life, weight management actually starts with your mind. The diet and exercise come in next. Its expected of us to stay indoors, to stay safe. But no one said anything about eating more or being less active.
Look at yourself first- then you can look after what you see!
So get the recommended amount of sleep, do not snack when not needed, figure out your stress triggers, be mindful of your food cravings, and be prepared. Stay away from your scale - the number on it does not define you. Fish out the right resources available to you.
It is always better to get the right advice. Professional help can really make a difference. Now your medical assistance is just a phone call away!