While it may sound like the name of a recently-formed band, the “COVID 19” is actually how some are labeling weight gain caused by unhealthy eating during the pandemic.
For many, the struggle is real. Cravings for processed foods high in sugar and carbohydrates are the result of the brain’s desire for quick comfort during stressful times.
Eating more junk food while doing less exercise during stay-at-home lives can not only mean more pounds but also lead to more serious medical issues connected to poor nutrition and obesity.
“Think of your body as a car,” says Sunny Lavalle, a registered dietitian with the Memorial Physician Group that works with bariatric surgery patients to establish healthy lifestyle and behavioral choices. “If you fill it with cheap fuel, which is what sugar is in a nutritional sense, it’s going to run poorly. It’s only when we change the fuel sources that the machine can run efficiently.”
So, while you may not be able to avoid boredom and stress as days turn into weeks and months in Coronaville, Lavalle cautions it’s important to be mindful of triggers that lead to an addiction-like need for foods that bring instant gratification.
Seeing every day as an opportunity to be healthy requires active participation in an eating plan that for those without allergies or other medical issues should include:
- Lean proteins from animal, earth, or ground sources
- Amino acids
- Fiber from vegetables and fruit
- Whole grains
- Healthy fat from foods like nuts, avocados, or olives
After nine years as a bariatric nutritionist for those seeking weight-loss surgery at hospitals within the Memorial Healthcare System, Lavalle also recommends individuals drink more water, plan their three daily meals, and avoid snacking in between.
Some may need to eat smaller portions, and everyone should understand that exercise, while crucial to burning calories and a natural anti-depressant, can’t overcome a poor diet.
Now is the time to make changes, especially since a healthy immune system is the best defense against illness.