With so much going on in 2020, it can be easy to let something as seemingly insignificant as “a few extra pounds” fall by the wayside. In fact, a great number of people comfort themselves by eating – and eating poorly – in stressful times. But what impact do our guilty pleasures have in the long or even the short-term?
The things that lead to Covid-19 weight gain – stress-eating, lack of exercise, turning to junk food – can actually create new health concerns. While they might soothe in the short-term, these behaviors can increase anxiety and stress and weaken our immune system.
The Dangers Of Comfort Food
Many people’s diets, or even their standard eating habits, went out of the window in early 2020. The news of the pandemic, the odd experience of being on lockdown, the heightened financial stress, these factors, and others led many to believe that their diet was the least of their concerns.
With so many new rules restricting our behavior, some of us turned to the one thing we could control: what we eat. Even some who were previously disciplined in their eating habits ventured into unchartered dietary waters in an attempt to regain a little freedom and autonomy.
And it’s common for people to seek solace in foods that give them a rush of satisfaction: sweets, carbs, junk food, candy. In times of uncertainty and even grief, people sometimes turn to habits that provide comfort, have sentimental value, or provide numbing familiarity. Unfortunately, this can lead to self-sabotaging dietary habits and unwanted weight gain.
An Increasingly Sedentary Lifestyle
But it’s not just a lack of vigilance in our diet. With so many people furloughed, working from home and avoiding unnecessary outings (including the gym), most of us aren’t getting our recommended daily exercise or steps.
A sedentary lifestyle not only leads to weight gain, but it can also compromise our overall health and exacerbate issues like anxiety and depression. While we might think we’re comforting ourselves by grabbing that pint of ice cream or planting ourselves at our desk for 9 hours, we’re really just setting ourselves up for failure by putting low-grade fuel in our tanks.
Easy Ways To Curb Covid-19 Pounds
There are plenty of simple steps we can take to make sure we keep our bodies and minds in tip-top shape in spite of our modified circumstances and lifestyles. Here are some quick tips for maintaining optimal health during Covid-19:
- Take walks – even during COVID, you can walk, ride your bike, and jog in your neighborhood. Just be sure to wear a mask if mandatory and maintain proper social distancing.
- Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables – the better you eat, the better you’ll feel.
- Get creative – walk your stairs, invest in hand-held weights, find an easy at-home exercise you enjoy, subscribe to a free YouTube yoga, pilates or aerobics class.
- Enjoy sweet treats – when you’re craving sweets, opt for fresh fruit or a smoothie.
- Ask for help – ask others in your household to hold you accountable as you keep your mind and body in optimal health.
The good news is, most of the habits that led to Covid-19 weight gain were not dramatic ones and they aren’t yet deeply ingrained. A few small tweaks to our diet and our exercise habits can get us right back on track with our health and our weight.