KEY POINTS

  • The lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing many people a lot of stress
  • This led to a lot of people to consume more food while binge-watching TV shows
  • Expert gives advice on how to drop the excess weight

In the past, some may have been looking forward to that paid ten-day vacation that their company offers. With the federal government’s stay-at-home measures, lots of people found spending many days with so much free time, more than vacations, may not be such a great idea after all. After ten days, boredom sets in, and to cope, most have turned to binge-watching TV shows and eating at the same time.

coronavirus lockdown can cause stress and weight gain coronavirus lockdown can cause stress and weight gain Photo: Irina L - Pixabay

Going Through A Crisis

Living through an economic and health crisis can be very stressful. Many would often turn to unhealthy habits as their way of coping with what is happening. In an interview with The Post, Shawn Talbott, a nutritional biochemist, says this is not the time to become complacent on healthy habits like consuming a healthy diet and exercising. You also need to get plenty of rest. Shawn Talbott is the author of ‘The Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health — and What You Can Do About It.’

According to Talbott, stress is very high at present. “We don’t know when the pandemic is going to end; we don’t know when quarantine will end; we don’t know what is going to happen with our jobs. All of that creates uncertainty . . . and leads to this chronically activated stress response,” Talbott said.

Stress Response

Talbott said that stress response is not just bad for your psyche. It also can “break down every single tissue in the body.” This is a type of metabolic reaction referred to as catabolism. It can lead to the breakdown of the immune system, skin, and muscles, as well as many other tissues. The only body part that will not shrink is the waistline.

Talbott warns that “…belly fat is the only tissue that expands in response to stress” as a consequence of cortisol. Such can put you at an increased risk of heart disease. Stress can also cause your tummy to crave for more. “A stress-cortisol craving almost always is for high-sugar, high-fat junk food, and it’s constantly leading us to want to eat, eat, eat,” said Talbott.

Mind Your Diet

As Talbott said, snackers gotta snack. He suggests that when the urge to snack strikes, reach for something colorful. According to Talbott, some of the most effective nutrients are found in bright-colored vegetables and fruits. “First, they’re full of fiber, which helps support healthy gut bacteria, and, in turn, your immune health. Healthy gut bacteria will ‘gobble up’ that cortisol before it starts causing problems in other parts of your body,” Talbott said.

Consuming food rich in omega-3 fatty acids is also a good “way to short-circuit that stress signal in the body,” according to Talbott. Fatty fish like tuna or mackerel are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. If you are a vegetarian, you can still get omega-3 from flax, nuts, and seeds.

Regular Exercise

Stress caused by cortisol surges triggers what is called “fight or flight response” in animals, and the way to handle such situations is to replicate these two responses. Talbott said that the body’s most efficient way of using that cortisol is through movement. The nutritional biochemist suggested finding time to perform some indoor exercise. You can try anything from jump squats to TikTok dance moves. Talbott says, “That’s going to be, in a sense, doing exactly what cortisol wants you to do."

Adequate Rest

After eating light and right and performing some exercises, getting a good night’s rest will also keep stress at bay. “If you are sleep deprived, that’s going to be one of the things that will really increase your cortisol levels,” Talbott said. If you still lack some sleep, you might want to take a mouthful of yogurt or a bite of granola. It’s a delicious snack that helps in modulating cortisol and blood sugar levels.