In a survey of 13,829 Australian adults, one-fifth reported drinking more during COVID. A study of more than 22,000 drinkers from the United Kingdom found that one-quarter reported drinking more alcohol during COVID-19.
In Italy, out of 602 people surveyed on changes in eating habits, nearly half stated that they ate “comfort food” and more to feel better.
You will feel better if you eat and drink alcohol.
Food and alcohol may seem like quick fixes when you are stressed, anxious or bored, such as in a lockdown. Overindulging won’t help you long-term.
It’s a good idea to review your eating habits at the beginning of a new year. Shutterstock
A global webMD poll on the self-reported weight loss during the pandemic found that about a quarter of people in Hong Kong, Germany, Australia, Canada, the UK and more than 60% in Brazil, Italy and Brazil reported weight gain.
The United States respondents were asked how much they estimated they gained in weight. 49% of respondents said they had gained less than 3 kg, 26% 3-4 kg, and 25% more than 4.5kg.
Participants thought that stress eating, lack of exercise and alcohol consumption were factors.
It’s not just about weight
Recent research indicates that healthy eating habits are more important than weight.
In a US study that followed 210,000 adults for up to 32-years, it was found that having a good diet quality is associated with fewer heart attacks and strokes.
A “high quality” diet is one that includes a variety of foods from the three basic food groups: vegetables, fruits, and wholegrains. It also includes a limited amount of junk food. A “low quality diet” is just the opposite.
A Swedish study that followed 79,000 adults for 21 years found that a high-quality, balanced diet protected against death from any cause among those with higher body weight. A healthy body weight was not protective for those with a poor diet.
Although a higher quality diet is associated with improved health it can also reduce weight.
Read more: Health Check: six tips for losing weight without fad diets
4 tips to improve your diet and beat COVID kilos
Cooking at home and eating together
Continue to cook and eat at home if you have spent more time doing so during the pandemic. It is also better for your health than take-out food and ready-made dishes.
In a study involving 160 adults, people who ate home-cooked healthy food experienced more positive emotions. They also felt less worried.
A review of adolescents found that frequent meals with family are associated with higher self-esteem, and other indicators for better mental health.
During lockdown, many people cooked and ate more at home. Shutterstock
Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits
In a study conducted in the US, 133 468 adults were found to have lost weight by increasing their fruit and vegetable intake. A study of 133,468 adults found that those who increased their fruit and vegetable intake over a period of four years lost weight by 250 grams. Those who consumed more carrots, green leafy veggies, green apples, pears and berries lost more weight.
It also has health benefits. An Australian study, which tracked 12,385 adults between 2007 and 2013, found that those who increased their consumption of fruit and vegetables reported greater happiness, life satisfaction and overall well-being.
When you go grocery shopping, buy more vegetables and fruits and choose a wider variety.
Keep a food diary
You can improve your understanding of different foods and beverages by recording what you consume and checking its calorie and nutritional content. This also helps you become more aware of your eating habits and snacking. You can either use a pen and paper.
After recording your food and beverage intake for a couple of days, you may notice areas that you can improve.
Consider keeping a mood journal. You can use this to identify ways you can improve the quality of your diet. Your mood will affect your food choices, and your choices of food will affect your mood. Tracking both your food intake and attitude can help you identify eating triggers.