How To Check On Weight Gain During Lockdown

“Oh my God, I am becoming fat!”; “Mom, Dad I’m off to exercise from tomorrow - I need to lose weight”; “Oh! I overate again: strict diet from tomorrow” and so on...

These are some of the most common scenarios in all the households during this global pandemic days. Going by contemporary social media humour the urban Indian society, though jokingly, appears to be quite concerned about the chances of weight gain during this lockdown. This is particularly true for otherwise active working individuals, who now face a double whammy of not being able to exercise along with unfettered access to food at their homes. This coupled with a rather urban concept of endless munching, clearly disposes us to weight gain – with all its attendant medical and social problems.

While we are physically distancing ourselves from the world, most of us are turning to food for companionship. Lockdown has managed to beget 'stress eating', which mostly leads to overeating. Staying at home all the time may cause binge-eating while binge-watching our favourite shows. Minimal physical activity and hogging on anything you lay your hands on, is bound to result in weight gain and none of us wants that. It takes more than self-control to avoid overeating, and hence given below are a few tips to prevent, or at least reduce the chances of weight gain during this period of restricted activity.

So, pull yourself up and aim to look healthy and fit when you'll show up next post quarantine.

* Eat healthy, wisely & timely!
While it’s right to assume that being home-bound leads to easy access to food and snacks, there is also a latent advantage in this, which is often ignored. With no options of eating out, we are restricted to home food – which tends to be healthier, low calorie and low trans-fat. To gain further advantage from this, we can resort to lower calorie snacks and food items such as sprouts or salads as a replacement for the usual fried (pakoda, samosa, etc.) and home-made indulgences like various sweet and dessert options.

Since most of us are not burning off calories during this period of lockdown, it is natural that our fuel foods intake should be lesser in this period. Carbohydrates (fuel foods) include food items such as bread, chapatis, rice, potato, etc. Intake of these should be curtailed during this period. Additionally, since the body does not need any energy during sleep, carbohydrates can be completely avoided at dinner. If satiety is an issue with a curtailed intake of carbohydrates, we could increase the intake of low/non-carbohydrate food items such as pulses (dals), freshly cooked vegetables, fruits, etc.
*Chalk out a meal plan!

If you’re working from home then you may have lost your daily routine, and also noticed that your eating habits have gone for a toss. This can lead to two major factors –

Firstly, you may end up snacking unhealthy food throughout the day.

Secondly, you may binge eat whenever you feel bored or stressed.
To avoid such unhealthy practices, we should stick to a regular schedule that will help get our habits back on track. We can start by having breakfast at the same time, daily followed by planning our lunch and afternoon snack, to eliminate any mid-day cravings. This will also ensure that we don’t have a heavy dinner, and don’t stuff ourselves with food before heading to bed. Scheduling and deciding the meal plans will train our mind to be hungry at regular intervals.

The importance of timely and regular meals cannot be over-emphasized. Body metabolism works best when nutritious food is ingested at regular intervals, rather than erratically. It is particularly important to avoid eating dinner very late and sleeping soon thereafter.

*Advance prep of Meal every day!
Rather than being impulsive and spontaneous with our diet during the lockdown and figuring out what to eat on the spot, we should prepare our meals in advance. For instance, we can go grocery shopping for meals that we can prepare through the week like oatmeal for breakfast, stir fry for lunch and dinner, and some fruits we can enjoy as snacks. This way we will enjoy a high-quality diet and consume less processed food. This way we can avoid the extra weight gain during quarantine as well.

If you are one of those who is short on time or don’t want to spend too much time whipping up a meal then you can purchase frozen options like frozen vegetable and precooked rice, with some canned beans. Plant-based meals are great options because they cook faster and are quite delicious when prepared well.
*Be mindful of your consumption!
Mindless eating is the worst because we are consuming way too many calories without paying much attention, and before we do know it, we have already done the menace. Boredom can trick our mind into thinking that we are hungry. It’s very easy to mindlessly grab a packet of chips from the cabinet and munch on it without thinking twice; but we need to be aware that all these frequent, mindless, snacking times do add up ultimately.

To avoid so, we must keep yourself busy and find joy in activities that don’t involve food. Maybe a walk with our dog (ensure social distancing norms), reading a book, working out, or calling friends, singing, binge watching, painting, and/or nurturing our long-lost hobbies.

*We are under social lockdown, not exercise lockdown!
The physical and medical benefits of exercise are well known to all. There are two additional but lesser-known benefits of exercise, which are particularly relevant in this crisis period.

First, exercise is a very good immunity booster – which will benefit if one, unfortunately, gets infected with the Coronavirus.

Secondly, exercise is a mood elevator and has anti-anxiety effects. Exercise, leads to the release of chemicals called endorphins, leading to a feeling of happiness by reducing the anxiety and depressions.
Next on, as we are completely homebound, we need to adopt exercises suitable for restricted areas.

These could include simpler and less aggressive forms such as static running, skipping, etc., or more aggressive forms such as crunches Pilates, or yoga. Needless to say, our exercise schedule must include all forms including stretching, muscle building/toning, and cardiorespiratory exercises. Regarding timing, exercise can be performed at any time of the day – though recommended adhering to a fixed time and duration. About duration, generally, 45 minutes to a 1-hour of daily exercise is adequate. Exercise should be performed most days in a week – if possible, every day. Different exercise schedules may be followed to avoid monotony and boredom, as well, as to exercise all the different muscle groups.

Various sites on the internet offer a range of information on age-appropriate exercises and schedules.

*It’s all in our mind!
Like many other modern-day diseases, obesity also has a strong ‘mind’ component. While the country needs us to stay indoors at this time, it does not require us to eat more, become inactive and gain weight. In fact, to the contrary, this is the time for us to evolve as individuals and make amends for whatever may be wrong in our lifestyles. Similarly, winning over this tendency to eat more and exercise less, is also a mind game. Winning over our temptations seems daunting and unachievable at first but gets easier and achievable with the passage of time.

*Monitor oneself!
Human beings are result-oriented species. We like to objectively assess and evaluate responses to lifestyle choices. Fortunately, in the case of weight gain, measuring this benefit is very easy. Just use a weighing scale! How often? Once a week should be enough. Measuring body weight will give us a clear idea of where our body weight is headed.

To conclude, it is possible to maintain our weight with a few lifestyle choices during this period of lockdown. After all, what we gain in these 3 weeks, may take years to lose, right? Moreover, as one of the social media jokes goes, no one would like to be addressed as “mere pyare hathiyon “at the end of this period!!

-Arthita Ray
An undergrad student of Amity University Kolkata. An avid orator, anchor, creative writer, singer, debater and a movie and sports buff. Based in Kolkata. Have work experience with The Telegraph, Friends FM and Grey Matters Communications.

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