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How to Avoid Lockdown Weight Gain
48% of people have said they’ve put on weight during lockdown1. While this isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s easy to see why you may want to avoid it. Here’s some advice for taking care of both your physical and mental health.
What do the stats say?
We’ve now had three national lockdowns. Working from home and staying indoors all day is the new norm for thousands of us up and down the country.
To say this is a difficult and stressful time is an understatement. The impact that lockdown and ‘staying at home’ can have on both the mind and body shouldn’t be overlooked:
- 48% of people have reported feeling more anxious or depressed
- 29% say they’ve drunk more alcohol than usual
- In 2020, more than 50% of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health got worse during the period of lockdown restrictions2
- Many people are (obviously) more sedentary than normal
The ongoing situation has clearly taken its toll. It’s easy to see why some weight gain could go hand in hand with the pandemic.
How can you avoid gaining weight during lockdown?
It should be said that the now-famous ‘lockdown pounds’ aren’t necessarily something to worry about. During this difficult time, weight gain isn’t something to feel bad about – in fact, it’s pretty normal.
However, losing some weight can be a step towards a healthier, happier life for many.
Where should you start?
Tips to lose lockdown weight
With anxiety and stress levels high, self-care has never been more important. Focus on nutrition and health, rather than what the number on the scales say.
Here are some tips to losing weight in lockdown healthily:
There’s nothing like ‘staying at home’ to drain any motivation, or desire to exercise, out of you. However, there are numerous physical and mental benefits of exercise:
- Reduces risk of major illnesses, e.g. strokes, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50%
- Lowers your risk of early death by 30%
- Lowers the risk of depression by 30%
- Lowers the risk of dementia by up to 30%3
- Good immunity booster
- Releases endorphins that reduce anxiety and stress4
Of course, during lockdown, access to certain exercises is restricted when gyms are closed. Despite this, there’s plenty that can be done, including running, walking or yoga for weight loss. If none of those take your fancy, you could try skipping, strength training – or following some home workout routines on YouTube.
There’s plenty out there, something is sure to float your boat! Aim for 150 minutes a week. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just that you increase your activity levels and find something you enjoy.
Eat more mindfully
Feel like your eating habits have gone down the drain? Most of us have found that unhealthy snacking has become more prominent than normal, and a difficult habit to break. The loss of a daily routine, coupled with being at home all day, has meant that mindless eating is much easier to do.
While this is completely normal, it can have unwelcome side effects on both mood and waistlines. To avoid unhealthy snacking, try sticking to a schedule. You could also meal prep in advance to ensure you’re eating nutritious, satisfying meals.
Try not to leave it too long between meals, as you’ll be tempted to reach for the high-sugar, high-fat options. Stock up with healthy snacks like fruits, nuts and seeds instead of sugary treats.
Opt for home cooking
With restaurants and pubs shut, cooking at home is a must. This is good news, as you can control what goes into your food – and ensure meals are healthier. However, it can be tough to resist the temptation of a regular takeaways, especially if you fancy ‘something different’.
There’s no need to cut out ordering in completely. But, make sure you opt for home cooked, healthy meals as much as possible. Load up your plate with vegetables, reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and control your portions. Healthy eating during lockdown can be done!
Cut back on alcohol
For many of us, alcohol and lockdown have gone hand in hand. However, unfortunately, alcohol has been proven to lead to weight gain:
- Can be high in calories, but offers little nutritional value
- Can lead to overeating
- Contributes to belly fat
- Negatively affects sleep5
Keep a food diary
If you feel your mindless eating is getting out of control, try counting calories and measuring what you eat. This can make it much easier to keep track of exactly how much you’re consuming and any unhealthy habits you may have.
You don’t have to weigh everything exactly to the final gram, but having a rough idea can help you eat more mindfully – and therefore healthily.
Focus on the easy changes
Instead of trying to do everything all at once, or aiming for ‘perfection’, focus on the smaller changes.
- Are you getting 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day?
- Have you exercised at least 3 times this week?
- Are you getting enough protein?
- Are you eating more wholegrains?
It’s all in the mind. It’s normal for your stress levels to be higher, and for you to feel down. This can lead to overeating, however it doesn’t have to.
Try staying positive, keep busy and find distractions if you’re feeling low (other than food). Also, remind yourself that it’s a difficult time for everyone, and a little weight gain is nothing to be ashamed of. Look after your mental health, stay safe – and stay at home.