Being aware of our health behaviors

This is a good time to assess the healthy habits we let slip and to find new ways to be proactive about our physical and mental health.

Being aware of how our health behaviors changed during the stay-at-home orders could help us prevent it if another lockdown is enforced.

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A shift in our health behaviors
  • Researchers found the pandemic and resulting lockdowns caused people worldwide to change their health behaviours, cut back on physical activity and eat more comfort foods. Anxiety levels increased while sleep became disrupted.
  • The researchers also found that most people became more sedentary and gave in to their food cravings, such as sugary snack foods. People classified as obese gained more weight and had the largest declines in physical activity.

Researchers found some people actually lost weight during the pandemic. They increased their physical activity levels and improved their diets.

Lockdown prompted people to prepare more food at home. Despite snacking on more junk foods, they showed an increase in their "healthy eating scores," a measure of their overall diet quality, including eating more fruits.

People reported significantly higher anxiety levels during lockdown. About 20 percent said their symptoms, such as experiencing dread and feeling unable to control or stop their worrying, were sever enough to interfere with their daily activities.

People reported that their sleep worsened during the pandemic. Only 10 percent of people said their sleep had improved.

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Researchers found that eating more saturated fat and less fibre from foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains led to reductions in slow-wave sleep - the deep restorative kind of sleep.

People who consume a high-carbohydrate diet fall asleep much faster at night, but the quality of carbs matters. People who eat simple carbs and sugar tend to wake up more frequently throughout the night while eating complex carbs that contain fibre may help you obtain more deep, restorative sleep. This is because complex carbohydrates provide a more stable blood sugar level.

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Metabolism

It refers to the thousands of chemical reactions that turn what we eat and drink into fuel in every cell of the body. These reactions change in response to our environments and behaviors, and in ways we have little control over. 

Metabolism is not a single thing that can be calibrated with “metabolism boosters” like chili peppers or coffee, or by following special diets.

Recycle Your Pandemic Habits

By reflecting on the changes and challenges of a global crisis like a pandemic, some people’s habits can improve — often when they use the time they usually spend on work travel or commuting on exercising, cooking, reading or other healthy habits.

Other people’s habits can worsen because they are under stress or shaken out of their usual helpful routines.

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