|Even our utensils have gotten fat during the pandemic|
Many people have noticed they have gained weight during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, leading to the creation of the terms “Quarantine 15” and “COVID-19.” Doctors attribute this weight gain to stress-induced eating. People are more likely to eat high-calorie foods when they are stressed, even if they are not hungry. They also engage in other unhealthy habits such as avoiding exercise and sleeping less.
If you are one of the people who has added extra pounds in the past year, here are some ideas for getting back to your pre-COVID weight.
Since stress seems to be one of the main causative factors for this pandemic of weight gain, one way you can address the problem is to find appropriate ways to manage stress. Try the following:
- Be sure you can recognize the physical and emotional signs of stress in your body. These include muscle tension, irritability, and feelings of anxiety.
- Before you eat, check in with yourself. Are you feeling stressed and eating when you are not really hungry as a flawed coping strategy?
- If you want to eat, but aren’t really hungry, try distracting yourself. Call a friend for a chat. Watch a TV show (without snacking).
- Keep an eating and behavior habit diary. Look for patterns in your eating that may relate to stressful feelings instead of hunger.
You’ve probably seen the rest of these suggestions often enough. They apply in most situations and are just simple (but not necessarily easy) steps to general good health.
- Eat a healthy varied diet emphasizing vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
- Don’t skip meals to cut calories. Eat smaller amounts at each meal.
- If your comfort foods are junk foods, get rid of them and do not keep any in your home.
- Get regular exercise. Include the four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.
- Learn and use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, stretching, yoga or meditation.
- Get adequate good-quality sleep.
- Learn to accept setbacks to the progress of your improvement plan. Get back on track as soon as possible.
- Let your family and friends know your weight loss goal. Ask them to encourage and support you.
- Seek professional advice and assistance if you are not able to lose weight on your own.
For more information on stress:
- Stress and your health: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/good-mental-health/stress-and-your-health.
- Stress relief is within reach: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-signs.aspx.
- Stress and eating behaviors: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/.
- Stress exposure, food intake and emotional state: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843770/.
- Stress as a common risk factor for obesity and addiction: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23541000.