Lose the Lockdown Lovehandles

Lockdown may have kept most of us safe from coronavirus but it’s not been easy being parted from our loved ones or our ‘normal’ lives. We’ve all had to adapt. No more socialising with family and friends. Working from home if we’ve still got jobs, home schooling children, only going out for food /medicine / exercise.

It’s been tough. On our waistlines. More time at home has very often meant more time to raid the fridge. We’ve fed our loneliness with comforting (and fattening) treats. We’ve enjoyed a glass or three of something in the evenings too. Supermarket sales of snack foods and alcohol are at record levels.

More people did turn to exercising during lockdown, with running, walking and cycling all popular. However, a lot of the extra exercise was done by people who were already in pretty good shape, while many of the couch potatoes stayed on their couches.

Now that lockdown measures are beginning to be relaxed, we can take part in more interactions with other people – while observing social distancing and wearing a mask in shops and other venues, of course. We are venturing out, visiting loved ones, taking staycations or even travelling abroad, going to restaurants and pubs, and indulging in fast food takeaways again.

In May 2020, the Daily Mail reported that two thirds of Britons had gained weight. In a recent study, King’s College London and Ipsos MORI surveyed 2,254 people, and almost half (48%) said they had put on weight during lockdown and almost a third (29%) said they’d drunk more alcohol. Almost half of respondents also reported feeling more anxious or depressed than usual. We’ve got fatter and we’re not happy about it.

So what do we do now?

We need to break the habit of rewarding ourselves with extra food (and drink). A couple of chocolate biscuits extra per day could add more than 1,000 calories to our weekly intake. Over a three week period, that would increase our weight by one pound, without any other changes to our eating habits.

Getting outside for some fresh air will help. Taking a walk or pottering in the garden will not only distract us from food but also burn off a few of those additional calories. And if we manage more vigorous exercise the effects are more noticeable. Exercise can also curb the appetite, so grab your walking boots!

Eating sensible portion sizes will reduce the calorie burden too. Aim for meals where at least half of the plate is covered by fruit and/or vegetables – potatoes don’t count as they are classed as carbohydrates. For best results, cook from scratch. Limit or ideally stop – snacking between meals. It’s OK to feel hungry before the next meal, and we’ll appreciate the food more.

If you’re not sure where all the calories are coming from, keep a food diary.

Above all, don’t panic. We can lose the lockdown lovehandles almost as easily as we gained them by eating sensibly and savouring, rather than wolfing, our food.