Do you remember when Corona used to be a sweet fizzy drink? That was back in the innocent days, long before there was a sugar tax on carbonated drinks, when dentists used to give children lollipops for being good as they left the surgery.
And here we are now, after decades of an obesity crisis, in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic which is far more deadly if you’re overweight. Yet another devastating effect of the toxic and highly addictive sugars and starches in our diet.
Whilst lockdown may be saving lives, its restrictions have reduced many to a fattening routine of eat, drink, sleep, repeat which is causing the pounds to pile on. The longer term effects of this lockdown binge-fest are potentially life threatening. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many inflammatory conditions are associated with obesity and excess sugar consumption.
When stressed we comfort eat. That was what all the panic buying was about at the start of the pandemic. I was astonished to walk into a supermarket completely stripped bare of all food and drink. Not a crumb or morsel left in the building. Even when it became evident that, by some miracle, our food supply chain was still working, we carried on stockpiling food and booze as if every day was Christmas.
Ever since then, we’ve been munching and guzzling our way through days filled with remote working, home schooling, box sets or not very much at all in boring isolation. If you’ve been wearing trackies for weeks, how easy do you think it will be to squeeze into your usual workwear or that figure-hugging outfit for going ‘out out’?
I must confess, I’m not immune. Sugar addicts and carb junkies beat a steady path to the door of my hypnotherapy practice for help with changing habits and ridding themselves of excess fat. And, generally speaking, I’m able to give them good advice from the perspective of someone who has a healthy relationship with food but is just as susceptible to cravings as they are.
My weakness is bread and, early lockdown, my breakfast was a big lump of it, toasted with peanut butter and a sliced banana on top. I’d just as well have shoved it down the ever tightening waistband of my jeans. I’ve since taken some of my own advice and am now reserving that starchy, sugary, fatty feast for an occasional treat. Funny how peanut butter and bananas are still flying off the shelves. These staples have become lockdown soul food.
These are my tips for a lean lockdown and returning to ‘new normal’ fighting fit:
● Shop for what you need and no more. If you’re ordering online or doing a big shop occasionally, write a menu so you can ‘reverse engineer’ your shopping list.
● Stick to fresh ingredients as much as you can. Who needs high calorie, low in nutritional content convenience food when you’ve got time to cook delicious, healthy food (and save money too)?
● Buy from local suppliers who weigh to order and corner shops who need your custom. They are often better stocked when supermarkets run low and many offer delivery services now.
● Batch cook and freeze so there are no leftovers and it’s easier to control portion size instead of spooning extra on your plate.
● Step away from the snacks. It’s hard to stop once you’ve started so don’t buy them in the first place.
● If ‘wine o’clock’ is earlier and more frequent than usual, do a calorie check on the amount you’re tippling. The sobering reality will help slim down the gin and prosecco consumption. And a certain well-known brand strong lager isn’t called ‘wife beater’ for nothing. Alcohol escalates conflict in an already stressed household.
● Chocolate is not your friend. If you’re missing friends and loved ones, phone, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or whatever them. They’ll cheer you up more than the self loathing that follows a chocolate binge. And while you’re talking you won’t be thinking about the chocolate you’re not eating.
● Gyms and exercise classes are off limits so just run up and down the stairs more or take example from Captain Tom and walk for victory and live for a century. War vets didn’t need a PT to stay fit. This is the opportunity, if you’ve ever used the ‘too busy’ card, to get moving even if it’s not your thing. And watching others dancing around the kitchen on TikTok is not exercise.
● Nurture an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for whatever is worthy of appreciation in your life. As a nation of negative thinkers, we can shift that mindset by being kinder and more appreciative towards ourselves and others and enjoy the benefits that multiply. That’s the kind of soul food that relieves stress and keeps us away from the biscuits.
Following pleas from some of my hypnotherapy converts who have successfully changed their eating habits but have found lockdown a challenge, I’ve produced a ‘mini-hypno’ session to turn off sugar cravings. It’s worked for them so I’m offering a free download version to anyone who would like to give it a go.