Thriving Well


It’s not just what you eat but also how you eat.

30 Nov 2020
You’ve probably seen that meme that says “You either come out of lockdown a hunk, a chunk, or drunk” and had a good laugh about it. But on a serious note, it is all too easy to let yourself go and gain what has been nicknamed the Quarantine 15, with the number indicating the average weight a person may put on during the pandemic season.

Binge eating, stress eating, emotional eating out of boredom – whichever you may be more prone to, it is not unavoidable just because you’re stuck at home. These five strategies will help build your defence against the so-called pandemic pounds.


Draw Up A Meal Plan

You have all the time on your hands and a kitchen full of supplies and equipment, which is great for survival but may not be so when it comes to staying the course in your health and fitness journey.

The first thing to do is draft an eating plan. Be as detailed as possible: Have a timetable for cooking, eating and even snacking; decide on a weekly budget that covers groceries, takeaways and deliveries; decide how frequently you eat out, get takeaway or delivery. Print it out, stick it somewhere prominent – such as in your kitchen or dining area so that you’re constantly reminded of your plan – and stick to it!

It’s also a good idea to keep a written record of what exactly you eat at every meal and review it once a week to see if or how far you may have strayed. The point is to have a structure as to what, when and how much you eat each day so that you don’t lose track of time and purpose, and simply eat to fill the void.


Set Your Snack Rules

If you’ve always been a snacker – or suddenly find yourself becoming one during the lockdown – then it is not easy to simply say no when the urge strikes. But cave in and it is likely that you’ll feel horrible afterwards. (unless you’re snacking on these healthy treats, that is!).

Here’s a compromise: For every “sinful” food that you tend to crave, set a rule for it. For example, if potato chips are your Achilles’ heel, your rule can be that every time you feel like opening a new bag of chips, you need to first drop down and do 25 push-ups. What you want to do essentially is put a price to that craving. That will at least make you pause and think how badly you really want it and if it’s worth paying for.

Prep a Weekly Menu

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that you keep your nutrient levels high. That means getting all the essentials vitamins and minerals in through fresh, whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean protein and good fats. At the same time, you want to minimise foods that can adversely affect your immune system such as sugar, dairy, grains, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine.

To ensure you’re on track to consuming the required amounts, plan out all the dishes you would cook for every meal within a week. That will allow you to fit in what’s necessary while keeping tabs on the less functional foods.

Don’t Go Grocery Shopping Without a List

Having a pre-planned menu will help with this: Use it as your shopping list when you head to the markets. Only get the items that you will need to cook what you have decided and nothing more. You may come across something new or interesting and feel tempted to get it. Take note of the price and usage, and work it into the following week’s meal plan and menu. Only then should you allow yourself to make that purchase.

Sleep Tight, Good Night

Gym goers know this for a fact: Recovery is just as important as training. Likewise, getting adequate and quality sleep plays an important role is managing weight. A study by the University of Colorado in the US found that participants who only slept an average of 5 nights for a week gained an average of two pounds. That’s because when you don’t get enough sleep, the hormone leptin (which tells your body when you’ve eaten enough) goes down while another hormone, ghrelin (which triggers hunger), goes up. Put together and you have a recipe for easy weight gain. So don’t Netflix your nights away but stick to a regular bedtime and practice good sleep hygiene.