For the average American adult, weight gain is a natural part of life. A pound here and three pounds there may not have the biggest impact, but measurable weight gain is another story. That’s the type of weight gain that sounds the alarm. To put it in simpler terms: you struggle to inch a pair of pants above your thighs and you can no longer button them. This is exactly the type of weight gain that has occurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, most American adults have gained an average of about 12-15 pounds. One survey from the United Kingdom found that more than 50% of test subjects struggled to maintain their weight during lockdown. Additionally, doctors in the United Kingdom and the United States saw an uptick in patients who expressed concern about weight gain.
Why Did The Pandemic Cause Weight Gain?
First thing’s first, the pandemic flipped everyone’s life upside down. Routines went out the window as a result of mass closures and people remained at home, only going out for essential goods. Many of the things that motivated people to stay healthy (wearing a special outfit to an event, getting dressed for work, attending a wedding or reunion, or staying in shape for dates) vanished, so there was no incentive for people to remain at a healthy weight. On top of all this, worrying about job security, feeding families, no more socializing, and not living life like people used to caused high stress levels. Many of the therapies that counteract stress (yoga, sound baths, gyms, or faith-based centers) closed down.
The Relationship Between The Mind And Weight Gain
The mind and body have a complicated relationship. When you feel an overwhelming amount of stress, you experience excess cortisol and adrenaline production, and the body pours glucose into the bloodstream for increased energy as a result. The reason it does this is because adrenaline and cortisol initiate the body’s fight or flight response. When you don’t need to fight or flight, however, these glucose spikes lead to increased cravings, hunger, and ultimately weight gain. For instance, people are binging shows or movies as a result of staying at home, but they’re also unconsciously binging food during that screen time. Additionally, working from home gives people unlimited access to their kitchen. All of this creates the perfect recipe for weight gain.
Getting Back On Track
You may not be able to change the ways of the world, but you can take control of other things in your life. It’s difficult to accept the things that you cannot change, but it is necessary to keep your mind and body healthy. Most mental health professionals recommend people to do things that help break the high stress/weight gain cycle. You’ll find tips to reform your pandemic nutrition below.
Set A Hydration Goal Every Day
The body needs water to live, but water also promotes healthy digestion, toxin elimination, increased energy, and stress reduction. You see, stress causes the body to confuse thirst for hunger, so you end up snacking a lot instead of drinking water. Set a hydration goal every day and try your best to hit that target. It is ideal to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water!
Mind Over Weight
You have more control than you realize during the pandemic. While testing and vaccines are not in your control, you do control how you eat, how you move, and what you do to keep yourself calm. If you get on a scale and are unhappy with the number, simply forget about what you did for the last six months and begin anew. Learn from your pandemic mistakes and move forward. Start your day with a walk around the neighborhood and a smoothie. If you want to eat better, there are plenty of healthy meal service plans. If you want to workout without leaving the house, many online videos can whip you into shape.
Eat Fruit Instead Of Sweets
Most people don’t satisfy their recommended daily intake of fruit, so replace your ice cream, candy, and other desserts with various fruits. The body has an easier time processing the natural sugars in fruit than the processed and artificial sugars in other sweets. You can cut up watermelon, mango, pineapple, peaches, strawberries, or cantaloupe, and you can even freeze blueberries and grapes for healthier desserts.
No More Evening Eating
You should always have a cutoff time when it comes to eating at night. Eating too close to bedtime can interfere with digestion, so nutritionists recommend leaving 10-12 hours between your last meal of the day and breakfast. This fasting period can help control blood sugar levels and it cuts out the late night caloric intake.
Find Ways To Reduce Stress
Exercise is beneficial for stress reduction, but some people need additional techniques to manage stress. From gardening and yoga to breathing exercises and reading, you can do a lot of things at home to reduce your stress levels. Many healthy experts encourage people to get out in nature for a walk, hike, or picnic because nature has a calming effect on the body and mind.