By Amelia Phillips, Accredited Eimele nutritionist and exercise scientist
Whether its funny memes about gaining weight or talk amongst the chat boxes, everyone is worried about what impact self-isolation will have on their health (and their waistline!) There is so much attention on trying to lose weight in isolation on social media and the news instead of focusing on how to stay healthy throughout this time. We are in the middle of a pandemic therefore we don’t need added stress and negative emotions. Between home schooling children along with trying to work from home and just general anxiety about health, there is enough to stress about! The focus needs to shift to “maintain not gain”.
Most people often forget that it is even harder to lose weight in isolation. Incidental exercise dramatically drops. Think about it. You are stuck at home with your basic steps consisting of moving from your bed to your desk to the fridge. This affects our NEATS (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis). We often underestimate the impact that has on our daily calorie expenditure. If you don’t believe me, compare the number of steps you take on a “go into the office” workday compared to working from home.
In terms of maintaining and not gaining, if we have come out the other side having maintained and not gained that is a big win! Maintaining and not gaining is simple. All we have to do is make sure to not eat more calories than we have burned each day. A few things I like to do to make sure I don’t overeat are as follows:
1. Practice intermittent fasting for 12h-14/day: this is one of the easiest ways to curb your appetite and trigger fat burning. If you stop eating at 9pm, don’t eat again until 9am. What that does is narrow the window when you do eat, so breaky, lunch and dinner are closer, preventing sugar spikes and snacking.
2. Eat liquid foods: for example, porridge, soups and shakes. My favourite are the Eimele range of products as they deliver complete nutrition whilst giving you that satisfied feeling, are full of fibre and protein and are delicious!
3. Find healthy swaps: if you have a sweet tooth, don’t kid yourself that you can go cold turkey all the time. Find a much healthier alternative that satisfies the craving without breaking the calories bank. For example, if you’re craving chocolate, have a powdered hot chocolate. If you’re craving chips, have some air popped popcorn.
Of course, there are other factors that affect our health such as loneliness, worry, relationship and family issues, plus a lack of sunlight, which can all affect both our physical and mental health. Instead of focusing on physical weight focus on the below instead which I like to call taking your MEDS everyday. This refers to:
- Mindfulness: Be it meditation, relaxation or spirituality. Having mindful moments everyday is important.
- Exercise: 150 minutes per week (21 min per day) od moderate to intense activity is the recommendation.
- Diet: following a predominantly whole food, plant first diet, not overeating, in a social enjoyable way.
- Sleep: 7 – 9 hours per night, 20min power naps (if you need), deep breathing before sleep and a tip; have a hot shower before bed (the body goes into a deeper sleep on a falling body temperature)