COVID-19 has affected daily life in unprecedented ways. It has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide, challenging public health, food systems and livelihoods.
Amidst the rapid global spread of Covid-19, many governments enforced country-wide lockdowns, with likely severe well-being consequences. It has led to the deterioration of mental health and health-related behaviours such as diet, physical activity and sleep which many refer to as “lockdown 15”.
So, how has the pandemic led to weight gain? Many factors such as the closure of gyms and recreational centers, movement restrictions and stress. This likely affected our sleeping patterns, eating habits and level of physical exercise that contributed to weight gain.
The worry of catching Covid-19, financial problems and the general uncertainty likely contributed to stress and that could have altered eating behaviours. When people are stressed, they “stress-eat” which typically involves the consumption of junk food. It also results in people feeling less motivated to exercise.
Lockdown has also affected many mentally. If you’re an extrovert, the lack of face-to-face communication with your friends, those pantry talks in the office can take a toll on your mental health. This indirectly led to eating disorders, depression and anxiety.
During lockdown, many found themselves leading a sedentary lifestyle due to working from home and physical distancing. The closure of gyms, parks and malls also contributed to boredom thus many turned to eating to relief their boredom.
As people emerge from lockdown, many are taking a fresh look at their eating habits. While some may have improved their diet due to home cooking, many have gained weight. However, all is not lost as you can still adopt a healthy lifestyle now.
Start by eating breakfast. Studies have found that those who skip breakfast tend to eat more added sugars, carbohydrates and total fat over the course of the day.
Add whole grains and beans to your diet
Eating whole grains and beans offer gut health benefits so increase your intake of these to have a healthy weight.
Lay-off the snacks
Working from home gave you easier access to snacks. Instead of loading on junk food, go for healthier versions like fruits and vegetables. Instead of ice cream, take low fat yogurt.
Schedule regular exercise
Adopt other means of exercise if you prefer to maintain social distancing. Hiking, online workout classes or even jogging around the park can be alternatives to working out in the gym.
A good night’s sleep means seven or more hours at night. There has been evidence that people who are lack of sleep are more likely to be overweight.
Whatever your weight goals are, now is the good time to access your lifestyle and focus on all the things that keep you healthy and to reshape your priorities.