Gained weight while on lockdown? You’re not alone. A study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center conducted from April to early May 2020 revealed around 27 percent of the 8,000 respondents said they gained weight during the initial lockdown.
A medical expert says gaining weight “is one of the expected impact of the pandemic,” which if not addressed immediately could increase risk of getting severe illness from COVID-19.
“The anxieties and depression caused by the contagious COVID-19, joblessness, and the uncertainty of the times and the loneliness from being away from loved ones can make people focus less on following a healthier lifestyle. Stress eating, losing sleep, having limited access to healthy food, and spending more time inactive can also contribute to weight gain,” explains Dr. Gia Wassmer, head of the Weight Wellness Center at Makati Medical Center.
Dr. Wassmer emphasizes the importance of getting back to and maintaining a healthier weight especially as we face a virulent disease. “Obesity is linked to impaired immune function and it decreases lung capacity and can make ventilation more difficult. As the body mass index increases, so too does the risk of death from COVID-19 and developing chronic illnesses in the future.”
The weight wellness expert offers five tips to managing weight amid a pandemic:
Instead of letting the day slip by, maintain a routine that includes waking up, eating, exercising, and sleeping, says Dr. Wassmer. “This will curb your tendency to sit or lie around indefinitely as well as eat whenever you like.”
Make healthy choices
“Include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein in your meals, and do practice portion control,” suggests Dr. Wassmer. “Also, ditch the sugary-sweet sodas or milk tea for water, and avoid drinking coffee four to six hours before bedtime since the caffeine may disrupt your sleep.”
Dr. Wassmer reminds that an exercise routine doesn’t require fancy equipment or the latest gadgets. “There are countless ways to incorporate some form of activity into your day,” she says. “You just have to be creative.” However, those who have never exercised before or are coming back from a long lay-off, especially because of some health concerns, should first consult their doctor.
Manage your stress
If the uncertainty of the pandemic is triggering a person to stress-eat, the doctor advises to deal with fears by reaching out to friends, writing down thoughts in a journal, meditating, or praying. “Expressing your anxiety, whether through the written or spoken word, somehow eases the burden you carry in your mind,” Dr. Wassmer points out. “It also allows you to hear or read your thoughts, so you know whether your fears are rational or unfounded.”
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Don’t beat yourself up for gaining weight during the pandemic. Instead, aim for small yet doable goals – not overly ambitious, anxiety-inducing ones. “Crash diets and strenuous exercises are knee-jerk reactions to weight management,” says Dr. Wassmer, but “losing 1-2 lbs. a week is a reasonable and sustainable way to do so.”
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