Going by contemporary social media humour, urban Indian society, though jokingly, appears to be quite concerned about the chances of weight gain during the period of 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 home. This coupled with a rather urban concept of endless munching, clearly predisposes us to weight gain – with all its attendant medical and social problems.
Given below are a few tips to prevent, or at least reduce the chances of weight gain during this period of restricted activity.
Eat healthy, eat wisely, eat timely!
While it is 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, vada) 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, 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 (satisfaction) 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.
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. This habit of regular meals should ideally be followed even when there is no lockdown. Finally, this habit is particularly relevant to diabetics, as it avoids erratic blood sugar levels.
You are under social lockdown, not exercise lockdown!
The physical and medical benefits of exercise are well known. There are two additional but lesser-known benefits of exercise, which are particularly relevant in crisis periods. First, exercise is a very good immunity booster – which may be needed should one, unfortunately, get infected with the coronavirus. Secondly, exercise is a mood elevator and has anti-anxiety effects. Exercise, due to the release of chemicals called endorphins, leads to a feeling of happiness and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.
It’s all in the 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. To that extent, 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.