Weight, Psychology, and the Pandemic

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Brie Cheese, pickled onions, spinach and tomatoes

We live at a hard time. We have a virus running rampant, and states will likely have to close back down. How much we are regressing is a good question, but as the economy starts to slow down, the psychology of a pandemic comes to the fore. This means there is a lot of tension, as we wonder if we will get sick? We also may ask if we will have a job tomorrow? Or how are we going to pay the rent? We may wonder where our next meal is coming from?

Times are hard, and this causes stress and anxiety. For many, this means issues with maintaining weight because we humans tend to eat our anxieties. For some, rare indeed, instead of eating, we tend not to. This is a reality of this age, and while not fully unprecedented, it is for our generation. Albeit, in these times we have an easier time since we have the technology to keep in contact with. Virtual funerals and weddings are becoming a thing. So is staying in contact and saying goodbye.

This is one reason people are desperate to get out of the house to beaches, bars, and restaurants. We are social animals, and this isolation can be hard on both body and soul. So how do you cope? How do you keep yourself healthy and how do you deal with the temptations of food and depression? We have done a few things, which are helping us to keep ourselves in a healthy weight and mentally fit. So I would like to share them because more isolation is coming.

Exercise

We have heard it often. It’s good to move, for both your body and soul. My long walks are a time for thinking and for listening to books on tape. At this point I am also looking forward to a stationary, under the desk, bike for days I cannot go out. Or for when my knee gives me issues. It will give me a choice but I will continue to do my daily workout.

There are very important benefits to this exercise.

First off, moving will help to prevent things like depression. Being homebound can lead to that and we humans need time outside in the fresh air. I also use these long walks to consider what is going on in the country and with family. I also enjoy that fresh air and listen to nature when not listening to a book. It also allows me time to think about the pieces I am working on. As a writer, this is important work as well. And to be honest, some pieces are more difficult to write than others. The walk allows me to think of these things and to bring concepts to life.

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Flower along the walk

Then there are the changes in nature. We are now in the middle of summer and spring flowers are gone. The crows though have become way active and assertive now that we humans are not out as much as we used to. We may even have two Murders trying to dominate territory, and it’s fun to watch them and listen to them. We also have a pair of red tail hawks, and one is fearless. He (assuming much I know) likes to fly low and slow. He is one good reason to keep any small dog on a leash. When he is doing this, you can even see all his plumage in all its glory. It is an amazing sight, and a few times he does this while letting out a loud screech.

What to eat…

I fractured a couple of teeth on December 18, 2018. I remember very well, and it was during that dental emergency that I finally started to lose weight. To make a long story short, fifty pounds later, and a year-plus of keeping it off, I am not about to gain it. So no, I am not eating everything in sight. Even if there are days that I do reach for the corn chips. I know that it is best that I maintain my weight, which I have done. So what we eat matters, And in this sense, I think I can speak of what to do during the pandemic.

When stuck at home it might be easy to choose things heavy in carbs and simple sugars. These conform foods feel familiar, salty, sweet, with good mouthfeel. It is tempting to follow the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is high in fats and sugars. It’s also easy to reach for processed already made things. And let’s be honest, popping something in the microwave may feel easy. And yes, rarely you may want to do that.

However, the pandemic is a good opportunity to learn how to cook. Or if you already have a core repertoire of recipes, to learn how to cook new dishes. If you are lucky, you also have more time to do this, so you can even make things that are more complicated. This also matters because homemade food, of good variety and taste choices, is good for you. It will also help you not to gain weight during this time. After all, what you cook at home tends to be less calorie-dense than frozen foods.

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Roasted duck with potatoes and carrots

This does not mean that you need to eat bland foods. My food choices include good quality cheeses, as well as a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. We have also been experimenting with different protein sources. For example, we found duck and Cornish hens from a local provider. We like to cook these from time to time to change things around.

We started buying our meat at the farmers market, with the meat shortages at the store. Yes, it’s more expensive. As is, the cost of food has gone up. So we need to make it go as far as we can, and I concentrate on making tasty food that we look forward to. However, we are not going out to eat. We are not even ordering out. We prefer to take a few risks as we can and stay home unless there is no choice. There are certain things we need to do, and that is that. For example, I do go to the store, early. And from time to time we still hit the field as reporters.

So what we are eating are freshly made dinners, which hail from different regional cuisines from around the world. Roasted meats, with root vegetables and potatoes, Chile rellenos, tostadas, curries, Mediterranean salads. I make sure we have plenty of veggies, whole grains, and good cheeses. We buy most of our fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. It is locally produced and of excellent quality. There are a few things I cannot find there, such as Poblano peppers, or carrots that I like, After that, it’s market food, and try to remain local.

I am also experimenting with different things I have not made before. We keep the variety going, and eat in moderation. For example, we have made Quinoa and from time to time delve into making lentils. The secret to maintaining my weight is walking and eating well but in moderation.

Of course, this does not mean I, or my husband, do not have a treat from time to time. We both do. I like some gluten-free cookies, and he likes his ice cream, but neither of us goes nuts with any of this. We also have accepted that the pandemic is going to be for the long haul. So there are a few other things to do.

Keep in contact with friends and the family.

Read.

Pick up a hobby.

If you can, talk to your elderly family at least once a week. They will benefit, and so will you.

Chiefly, realize we are in for the long haul. So you and I need to adapt to a new form of living. When we go back to normal, it will be a new normal. There are habits and things we used to do, that we will not do as much as we used to. And this is an opportunity to make permanent changes that will be good for the rest of your life.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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