Covid-19 Attacking Everyone’s Waist Line
Stopping Covid weight gain becomes more and more important as the pandemic continues. Many of us may find our bodies flabbier and less healthy when the pandemic is over. It’s estimated that most us will have gained 15 lb or more pounds over the months.
Covid Weight Gain is Similar to Freshman-15
Some call it the “Quarantine 15” so named because the situation is similar to “Freshman 15”– the 15 lbs that college freshman often gain during their first semester away from home. It’s caused by loss of structure, isolation and often elements of anxiety and depression leading to overeating of comforts foods.
How can anyone gain so much, so quickly? It’s simple, eat 1000 calories extra a day for a month and you have already gained 10 lbs! What’s 1000 calories’- a family size bag of Pita Chips(yes, those ones that are labeled “Naked,”) a pint of Hagen Daz, 6 cookies, 2 bagels or 3 bags of M & M’s.
Stopping Weight Gain from Covid Means Recognizing the Reasons for the Weight Gain
- Daily Routines are Disrupted by Isolation at Home:
Similar to the college freshman, all of our normal routines and schedules are discarded – working from home for the first time or simply hanging out. We are skipping meals and staying up too late at night. Our stress is amplified; binge-watching TV becomes an acceptable alternative for passing time. Kitchens are filled with comfort foods; refrigerators are loaded with cheese, meats and lots of treats. It’s always 5 o’clock at the home bar. Many of us are grieving for lost routines — no longer having school days for children or even personal space at home. We skip meals and eat too late at night.
- Anxiety, Depression and Stress are Increased by Fear of Disease and Loss of Income and even Life!
It’s all so tempting— bored, anxious and stressed — we seek relief by eating all day. By the beginning of April 2020, popcorn sales rose almost 50%, pretzel sales were up 47% and potato chip sales rose 53% compared to the same period last year, Bloomberg reported. Pizza deliveries have doubled!
Covid Overeating is Usually “Mindless”
Foods (especially comfort foods) and drinks (sugary drinks and alcohol) become a source of comfort. Simply put, they calm us down. Some people call it “mindless eating” others call it “emotional” eating…it’s rarely hunger. Eating in response to stress actually does serve a purpose. It increases chemicals-in our brain including serotonin and dopamine that temporarily relive our anxieties and depression. In some it gives them a glimpse of happier days.
- Overbuying Comfort Foods and Hoarding
Overbuying food and then hoarding due to an irrational fear that supermarkets will run out of Tortilla Chips or M&M’s leads inevitably to binge eating of some very high calorie, high carb foods. It’s almost like an alcoholic locked in a wine store. The urges to hoard, overeat, ration, and under-eat are all related to a drive to use food to soothe underlying anxiety. Each person expresses these feelings in a different manner.
How to Avoid Weight Gain during the Covid-19 Isolation
Stopping Covid Weight Gain For People Working from Home for the First Time:
This situation is unusual for first time home-workers who suddenly lack a schedule. They are used to getting up at 6 AM, rushing to be at work on time and having a definite lunch hour. Instead, they get up at odd hours, stay in their pajamas often skipping breakfast or have a snack at 10 AM and grabbing something for lunch in the late afternoon. Often it’s what’s left over from the previous dinner. Because the family is at home, many will have dinner too early which then results in 6 to 8 hours in the evening for binging on Netflix and comfort producing snacks. This is made worse because they are unable to fall asleep at the usual time often extending the snacking time even further. In general, the latter you stay up (especially if your partner fell asleep earlier) the more likely you are to snack.
Stopping Covid Weight Gain by Creating Structure in Your Day at Home:
You may no longer be going into the office or dropping kids off at school, but you can still create some structure in your daily life by setting an alarm and following your regular routines. Maintaining structure around meals is especially important. The risk of indiscriminately consuming food just because it’s available and have the time becomes a potential problem.
Secrets to Reduce Impulsive Eating
You need to stop eating in front of your computer. It’s no different than eating in front of a TV. You often eat snack foods, that are easy to pick up. Often you never remember eating them or if you do, how much.. Have breakfast, even 1 or 2 cheeses sticks and a copy of coffee will work. Set aside a time for when you get up from your home office and go into another room to eat and go outside to walk or to an in house exercise machine. Stopping Covid Weight Gain For Everyone Isolated At Home:
Set up a schedule and try to keep to it. Set aside 45 minutes to go outside for a walk or biking. If you have home exercise equipment do it daily. This provides a break in your day. If you have children at home do it together.
Don’t Skip breakfast: You can have your breakfast anytime before 10 AM. Timing is less important than skipping. There are many quick and easy breakfasts. Look for high protein, low carb products such as protein shakes, bars, cheese sticks with a minimum of 60 calories with 10 grams of protein and 1-2 carbs.
Have a Definite Lunch: This is the important meal of the day. It should not look like dinners with plates of protein, carbs and vegetables. It’s a special meal. Best choices might be a wrap or sandwich (low carb wrap or bread) with the protein coming from the previous evening’s dinner, or cheese, ham turkey or other lunch meats. Add lettuce, tomato and condiments. One of my favorite lunches is a toasted cheese sandwich with a cup of soup.
Protein Snack in late afternoon: In order to move your dinner time back to at least 7 PM, you need a snack late in the afternoon. Seek high protein snacks with easy to control portions like a hard boiled egg, protein bars, shakes cheese. Protein produces fullness and less changes of food mistakes.
Evening meal: The latter you have dinner in the evening the better. Late dinners leave less time for binge snacking during the evening. It’s clear the time you eat has nothing to do with weight gain. It’s not when, but what you eat! This is the meal for the lean protein, vegetables and salads. Limit the rice, pasta, potatoes to twice a week. Try the veggie carbs-cauliflower rice and lentil-zucchini pasta.
Evening snacks: If you need to have a snack or even two, it’s important to pick the right ones. It’s all about portion control! Don’t eat from large multi-portion containers. Snacks should be about 100-140 calories, high in protein and low in carbs. THE CONTAINER SHOULD BE THE portion. Total snacks: 2-3/day. Fruits & vegetables are free.
Shopping and Storing Food During Covid-19 Isolation
Shopping for Foods. People stock up on nonperishable foods during the Coronavirus outbreak in an attempt to avoid extra trips to the grocery store or fear the food won’t be available. But just because you’re buying foods that have longer shelf lives doesn’t mean that they can’t be healthy. Often large, “party” bags of chips, popcorn and pretzels are far cheaper and more available. If you end up with these bags, you need to subdivide into smaller plastic bags. Freezing the small bags of chips makes portion control easy.
Storing the Food: Sounds silly? Often its where you keep the comfort food that dictates how much you eat. Leaving large, multiple portion bags or boxes on the counter in pure view encourages mindless eating. Store these comfort foods in closed cabinets out of sight.
Stopping Covid Weight Gain Means Limiting Alcohol During the Covid-19 Isolation
Covid weight gain is closely related to increase alcohol consumption.Alcohol consumption has increased 55% by the first week in April 2020.. There are 2 problems with alcohol:
1. All studies show alcohol interferes with immune system increasing chances of Covid Infection & perhaps worsening it.
2. Alcohol has calories, depresses metabolism, interferes with sleep. Each drink is metabolic equivalent of 220 calories!
If you have to drink limit: women- weekly limit 6-7 four oz.(no sugar) drinks, men-limit is 10-12 drinks per week.
(This has been adjusted upward since the crisis)
Stop Covid Weight Gain by Sleeping 8 hours a Day.
The marked increase in home-workers in the last months have disrupted millions and millions of people. The stay up latter in the evening and thus awaken latter in the morning. Breakfast becomes lunch, lunch can be at any time. Because families are at home all day, they tend to eat dinner earlier thus increase the opportunity for snacking comfort foods during the extended evenings. Frequent us of Ii pads, smart phones and computer monitors interfere with sleep by blue light impairing melatonin secreted by the Pineal gland in our brains. The result is often 5-6 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation results in weight gain.
Disruption in Daily Activities & Lack of Schedule: Leads to IMPULSIVE OVER EATING
1. Don’t Skip breakfast