Are Aussie’s carrying extra “weight” as a result of COVID-19?

And what you can do to reset and re-focus for better health outcomes moving forward?

As soon as it became clear that living with COVID-19 was not going to be short-lived, tracking surveys and research projects were implemented both locally and globally to measure the impact of the pandemic – particularly on people’s health and well-being (outside of the virus itself). Results vary from survey to survey, however, there are a few areas of consistency around weight gain and associated general health and well-being.

COVID kilos or COVID curves…

Call it what you will, life in lockdown has impacted on the weight of our nation. More than one third of Australians reported weight gain during the pandemic, higher than the global average (IPSOS 2021). While this weight gain comes as no surprise to health professionals, it is a serious concern. Obesity and obesity-related diseases were already significant public health problems before COVID-19.

Data from the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey showed that 1 in 4 people reported increased consumption of snack foods compared with before the pandemic. While another study found that more than 1 in 3 women reported eating more discretionary foods (for example pastries, chips, biscuits, ice cream, cakes or confectionary) (AIHW 2021).

The pandemic has caused children to gain weight also. In one overseas study 30% of parents reported that their child had gained weight during the 1st wave. Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents is a major public health issue in Australia with 25% of youth aged 2–17 being overweight or obese leading into the pandemic (AIHW 2020).

But it’s not all bad news! While comfort eating was unsurprisingly on the increase, 36% of Australian’s said they decreased their take-away consumption during the pandemic. Having more time to cook and knowing that take-away food is not good for your health were the two main reasons reported for this decrease (VicHealth 2020).

Eat well to live well.

A healthy diet helps to prevent and manage conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, prioritising mental well-being is an important part of staying healthy, and eating certain foods can help lift your mood. In general, following a healthy pattern of eating is linked with better stress management; improved sleep quality; increased concentration; and better mental well-being. While reducing our reliance on take-away foods is a step in the right direction, focusing our newfound culinary skills on more nutritionally balanced options will help improve our health in the long run. It will also set our kids up with the healthy habits they need as they adjust to our new, COVID normal world.

Do you wanna drink on FaceTime?

We have all seen the COVID-19 and alcohol-related memes doing the rounds on social media… If you are a parent who has had to endure home schooling you know exactly what I am talking about!

The consumption of alcohol is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in Australia and has adverse social and economic impacts. The consistency of results when it comes to reporting on alcohol consumption during COVID-19 are varied – likely due to the sensitivity of the subject. However, self-reported information from the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey showed that of those adults who usually drank alcohol, 20% reported their alcohol consumption had increased. A higher proportion of women reported consuming more alcohol (27%) than men (14%).

The most common reasons for those who increased consumption were boredom, being anxious or stressed and having more time in general (AIHW 2021).

Don’t let alcohol sabotage your weight loss efforts.

If you’re working hard to make healthy food choices, it’s important that you don’t let your drinking habits derail all your efforts. Most people are not surprised to learn that alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and spirits, are not great for weight loss. But many people blame the carbs in beer, or the sugar in wine and cocktails. This is why low carb (or even no carb) beer and sugar-free spritzes have become so popular in recent years.

But when it comes to alcoholic drinks, no carb does not equal ‘no Calorie’. In fact, alcohol provides almost twice as much energy per gram as protein or carbs. Coming out of lockdown and into the festive season, it’s important to remember that reducing your intake of alcohol is a helpful strategy for overall health and managing your weight. If you are going to drink alcohol, choose lower alcohol beverages and remember that alcohol will also impact your food choices, sleep, exercise and recovery.

 

Food for thought.

Changes to our daily routine including, eating behaviours, activity habits, sleep patterns, stress and anxiety levels are natural responses to what we have experienced. But, it is never too late to reset and focus on providing a little TLC to our health and well-being.

Start with self-compassion

The past several years are unprecedented in our lifetime and we’ve all done the best we can in response. Acknowledge where you are now and consider what habits you may want to change moving forward.

Create a supportive environment

As a flower cannot flourish without adequate water, sunlight and fertiliser, change and growth are fostered by creating an environment that supports you. Consider all the factors that play a part in your well-being and turn your attention to nutrition, sleep, activity, social connection and self-care.

Disrupt your current routine

Just as the disruption in our routines during the pandemic affected our physical and mental health challenges, creating new routines will help reinvigorate healthy habits. Start with one small change and let the momentum build from there.

Forget the scales

There are so many ways to measure health. Let how you feel guide your success rather than what the scales say.

How can Lite n’ Easy help?
The single most important dietary change you can make to be healthier is to eat five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit each day. But it can be hard, which is why Lite n’ Easy’s complete meal solutions are the way to go. You’ll get to eat the right foods in the right portions throughout the day and get your daily 5+2 simply by enjoying our complete solution with a huge range of delicious meals. Give us a call on 13 15 12 or click here to order now.