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The biggest lockdown food sins and their impact on your health

by in COVID19, Health Tips, Healthy Foods, Lifestyle, Lockdown, Wellbeing, Wellness, WFH, Working from home 5th October 2020

We’ve all heard the stories and seen the statistics. Lockdown weight gain is very real and several studies have now looked into the subject. In this article we are going to explore some of the key contributing factors and biggest food sins people have been committing during lockdown!

With a second lockdown now becoming more and more likely we felt it would be worth discussing the ‘risk factors’ of being at home most of the time. For Nutritional Therapists lockdown has actually resulted in an increase in customers asking for support with weight loss so we have been right on the front line and gained a good understanding of the root causes of the issue. You may be surprised by these. Often it is not what you are eating but when you are eating that can have the biggest impact.

So what have our clients been telling us? Here are the top 5 things I’ve heard and the advice I have given my clients on overcoming them.

1. “My workspace is now next to the fridge/kitchen and I am tempted to eat much more than I normally would.”

Many of us who are working from home have found themselves in close proximity to the kitchen and therefore temptation. Having access to food all day is not something that we are used to and quite simply is not a good idea. The problem with this is that your body gets used to it very quickly and the more you snack the more frequently you will feel the need to. .

2. “I keep my snacks on my desk and am grazing all day and not eating proper meals anymore.”

At your usual workplace you would have been unlikely to constantly have access to food and whilst it seems to be ok to eat during a videoconference you are unlikely to have brought food with you to a real life meeting. The problem with grazing is that you are much more likely to gain weight even if the number of calories remained the same as you were having with with 3 meals a day. The reason for this is the consistent release of insulin whenever we eat carbohydrates and sugar. Insulin effectively tells the body to store fat and not use any stored fat for energy. Bigger gaps between meals are much healthier. 

3. “I have a snack whenever my children have one.”

This is very common with parents and has been extremely difficult for many to control with their kids being at home from school or nursery. It is absolutely fine and normal for children to have regular snacks. Growth spurts demand a lot of energy and it would be difficult for little ones to get all the energy they need from just their main meals. For adults however having regular snacks is not a good idea and is certainly not helpful for weight loss (as explained above). Common snacks parents have told me they have are high sugar fruit such as bananas and grapes or processed carbs such as breadsticks. All of these will likely lead to weight gain.

4. “I am eating because I’m bored.”

For those who do not have small children, have been furloughed or are working less for whatever reason, being at home may have resulted in a real gap in their daily activities which in many cases has lead to eating more simply out of boredom. This again leads to a vicious cycle as the more you eat and especially sugary foods the more likely you are to have cravings for them.

5. “I’m comfort eating because I feel stressed.”

This was by far the most common reason given by my clients for their weight gain over the past 6 months. Stress has a huge impact on the human body although it can have different effects on different people. One way it can be problematic for all of us that for many people stress can cause disturbances to sleep and lack of quality sleep has been shown to deregulate our appetite hormones and cause cravings for foods high in carbohydrates and sugar.

Pro Tips

  • Make a meal plan for the week ahead or at least your working days. You are much more likely to eat at regular times and less tempted to go to the kitchen between meal times.
  • If possible prepare your lunches in advance, either by cooking in bulk or preparing meals the night before. This will greatly enhance your likelihood of sticking to the plan.

  • If you do feel you need a snack try to prepare these in advance. Making your own home made trail mix and diving it into individual containers will help with portion control.

  • When your kids have a snack try to opt for low sugar fruit or a handful of nuts rather than having what your kids are having. Again a bit of planning or having some options ready in advance can be helpful here.

  • When you find yourself in the kitchen due to boredom have a herbal tea or some fruit infused water. This will give you some time to reflect on whether you are actually hungry.

  • First of all find ways to relax which are not food related. Taking a hot bath, doing some breathing exercises or again having a herbal tea are great options here. Secondly try to ensure you are getting plenty of quality sleep in order to regulate cravings.

Uta Boellinger - Aiverley Nutritional Therapist

Uta Boellinger

Uta is a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist (dipCNM, mBANT) and Wellness Expert. She is passionate about guiding her clients on their health and fitness journeys by creating bespoke nutrition plans and providing personalised advice and support. Uta has combined her interests in food and science with her drive to help others to create a thriving practice. She also has a diploma in journalism and is currently in the process of publishing her first book. She also has a 16 year old son whose health and wellbeing was a key driving factor in her decision to study nutrition and change careers as well as the inspiration for her book.

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