MUSINGS OF A DIETICIAN IN LOCKDOWN
Daily, social media inundates us with mimes and messages claiming that by the time we leave lockdown status our health status and physical bodies will be worse for wear. I constantly see pictures of what we will supposedly look like on the beach, on our couches, merely wearing a mask and gloves that fit our new bodies as no clothes in our wardrobes can cover our expanded forms.
As a dietician and holistic coach these images concern me as it depicts quite clearly what people are emotionally experiencing. In making light of the need to throw caution to the wind and give into all kinds of physical cravings and urges when it comes to food and drinks we are falling prey to potential chronic diseases that will last longer than the corona epidemic.
It is very frustrating to be trapped in doors and not be able to do regular exercise, either due to lack of motivation or due to lack of access. I am very grateful that I have my trusty treadmill and that we are now allowed to move a distance of 500m within proximity to our home. The problem is I still need to motivate myself to utilise these avenues. In the first week or two of lockdown I found myself more motivated. But as time goes on and the full weight (excuse the pun) of this experience takes it toll, it becomes harder to stay focused and really set goals that will keep one healthy both physically and mentally.
There is a clear relationship between sun exposure and the ability to produce hormones in the body that trigger feelings of well-being and emotional calm. Then there is the food component that either enhances or detracts from this balance that we so desperately need at this time.
I have always educated my clients on the effect that food plays in our physical and mental well-being. We literally are what we eat! When making food choices that are less processed and are preferably void of simple sugars and simple carbohydrates, our bodies respond with better energy levels and we produce higher levels of serotonin (the “happy” hormone) in the body. This follows a pattern of better thought processes and leads to our actions being less reactive and emotionally charged. The opposite is also true, by eating processed foods, high in sugars, salt and saturated fat we in fact produce less serotonin and as a result our thoughts, emotions and moods jump on the roller coaster of being more irritable, reactive and causes further cravings of the foods that made us feel this way to start off with. It becomes a terrible cycle of cravings, low energy, anxiety, depression, irritability and frustration.
Our bodies, however, are amazing vehicles that have the ability to regenerate. Just a few days of staying off foods that cause rebound cravings and mood cycles allows for a calmer and more focused state of mind. We also start to feel our energy levels improve and sleep patterns are also enhanced.
So how does one get into this mindset? How do we pull ourselves up off our couches and and find the motivation to make better choices. The old adage that life is not a sprint but a marathon that must be tackled one step, or a couple of hundred meters at a time fits perfectly. We cannot look too far ahead and compare our position today with