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Opinion: COVID-19 has destroyed the eating habits of many

You are what you eat
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Take-out and delivery staples include burgers, pizza, and fries. Photo: Getty Images

A number of my patients have joked about “the COVID-19” - referring to the 19 pounds they have gained since the start of the pandemic.

They attribute their unintended weight gain to the loss of their previous exercise in gyms and sports teams, spending many more hours in front of screens and being at home where snacking is easy. It’s just too tempting to turn off your mic and video and eat during an online lecture or meeting.

Many have enjoyed cooking, baking and bread-making at home.

Others have ordered food delivery far more often than they ever ate out before the pandemic.

Remember, we are what we eat.

Food provides the building blocks for the regeneration of our tissues and organs and energy for the cells of our bodies and brains. Consider the quality of your food before you grab what you crave or call UberEats. Garbage in, garbage incorporated.

If you feel like a Big Mac, you will be a Big Mac.

If you are stuck in your home all day, plan and prepare your meals and snacks in advance. Stock up on fresh fruit and other healthy snacks. Take your breaks as you would in school or at work with at least 10 minutes of physical activity, maybe a short walk in or around your home or some household chores.

If you’ve gained a few pounds over the past year, count yourself lucky.

For others, the pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity, which is increased uncertainty about their ability to feed themselves and their families.

A Stats Canada report released in December reported that in the early months of the pandemic, one in seven (14.6%) of Canadians were experiencing food insecurity. This was an increase from 10.5% in 2017-2018.

As with almost all of the negative effects of the pandemic, hardest hit are the most vulnerable in our communities. The economic crisis has resulted in many losing jobs and secure housing.

Help out your neighbours. Consider donating and volunteering with these community organizations.

As part of the Division’s Empowering Patients public health education program, I’ll be giving a free online talk on Healthy Eating at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 25. I’ll be talking about the essentials of healthy eating, the new Canada Food Guide, eating on a budget and practical tips on making positive lifestyle changes. For more information, check https://divisionsbc.ca/burnaby/for-patients/empowering-patients or email Leona Cullen at lcullen@divisionsbc.ca.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, read his blog at https://davidicuswong.wordpress.com/.