Avoiding stress eating and boredom during the coronavirus pandemic

By Ben Alonzo
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Because of coronavirus social distancing orders, millions of Americans are stuck at home and will be at-risk for eating out of boredom. Avoiding the habit of gaining weight will require some discipline and creativity, especially as stay-home orders continue for over a month during the coronavirus pandemic. Unhealthy foods, high in carbohydrates, sugar and sodium, are flying off the grocery store shelves. Consumption of unhealthy foods will further lead to increased obesity prevalence. Obesity even increases your risk for coronavirus complications. There are some things unique things people can do to stay busy indoors, including learning new skills and at-home exercise routines. Smart consumers can avoid the trap of overeating by recognizing healthier options to simply eating exciting foods out of boredom or stress.

So you’re stuck inside during this national shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. You’re not alone. This is a trying time and certainly this whole thing is causing many to be stressed out and bored. But it’s important to manage your time as you go through social distancing and stay-home periods. One of the biggest causes of gaining weight is not being physically active and overconsumption. You can avoid this by keeping yourself busy as much as possible.

Keeping Busy

The coronavirus shutdown may go on for months. But be positive about all this new free time you have. You now have the time to do something you might not otherwise be able to do. Here are just a few ideas on what you could do to stay busy and come out of the pandemic accomplishing something:

  • Learn a new skill (computer programming, languages, math, science, trades)
  • Exercise and lose weight (go on a diet, walk around, watch and follow along to an exercise video)
  • Go outside and watch the sky, get some fresh air (away from other people, of course)
  • Write a story
  • Learn to paint
  • Talk to others online all over the world
  • Start selling things you would otherwise throw away on eBay (clean out those closets)

Now is an important time to keep yourself busy so you don’t focus on worry, stress, and boredom, which increases your chances of overeating.

American culture is toxic, it teaches us to work, eat junk, sleep and repeat. This is unhealthy and humans were never meant to live this way. Perhaps this is also partially the reason for such high depression rates. This toxic culture exposes us (from an early age) to unhealthy eating and drinking habits and a system of overconsumption and wastefulness. Having done this so long, it’s tough to break this cycle. It’s the same cycle that leads to becoming overweight and ultimately obese.

What you do with your free time and the way you think will be the what makes for effective, healthy time management. Now more than ever, Americans need to stay busy to avoid increased obesity numbers.

Obesity Epidemic

A majority of US adults are overweight (over 70%). One common finding with critically ill coronavirus patients is that a large portion of them were obese. At least 42% of US adults are obese, according to the US government. This number is highly underestimated.

Obesity increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and early death, among countless other negative health factors. It makes you less productive, burdens taxpayers, increases healthcare costs, and leads to overconsumption of food resources. It’s important to avoid becoming overweight as much as you can. Once you reach a body mass index (BMI) of 30, you are considered obese. The higher the BMI, the more likely you are to get health problems and die early.

Healthy Diet

Healthy foods are unrefined, minimally processed, such as vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Sometimes a little bit of whole grain food products can be healthy.

When you eat healthy foods, you should still consider quality and quantity. Don’t eat too much! Good foods can include small amounts of berries, fish, and nuts. Consuming healthy foods is a good way to reduce your cancer risk as well.

Unhealthy foods are heavily processed, such as most snack foods, popular soft drinks (sweetened), fried foods, products high in saturated and trans fats, and potatoes.

Even small amounts of junk food can be harmful to eat. One of the reasons for this is, many people don’t have the ability to stop once they start eating snack food. The producers of snack food know this, which is why they flavor the food the way they do and spend billions on marketing it.

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Count your calories, know your caloric intake. This information is based on your age. Your physician or a dietician can also help you determine what’s right for you.

The US dietary guidelines suggest:

A range from 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day for adult men

It’s a Challenge

We’re going through something tough. It’s not the first time we’ve experienced a pandemic, but our failure to adopt science-based policy, infrastructure, and leadership made this whole thing worse. Everyone is sort of on their own as they stay at home during the social distancing period, possibly for months. We’re not used to taking a break from work or school. We’re not used to living healthy. So we must make some changes. We need to be up to the challenge as individuals and as a country. Something good will come out of this, for sure. But it’s important that you use this personal time to improve yourself, stay busy, and stay healthy. Good luck.

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bio
Author:Ben Alonzo is one of the world’s most unique science and tech experts. He founded ULTRA TechLife and is the CEO of the tech firm Storm Sector, LLC. Ben holds an MS in Information Technology, MS in Geoscience, MS in Health & Nutrition, and a BS in Geoscience. He is a highly rated professor that teaches a wide variety of college courses within earth and environmental sciences as well as within computer sciences and public health. His diverse background spans information technology, cybersecurity, healthcare, weather forecasting, consumer electronics, graphic design, web development, and business leadership. He holds numerous professional licenses and certifications, ranging from information technology to healthcare and emergency medical technician. Ben is a tech entrepreneur and is business partners with multiple restaurants. He is a fitness pro, health scientist, a licensed private pilot that loves flying, and enjoys independent filmmaking. He has written about science and tech for over 10 years. You can see some of his past articles on the Houston Chronicle, Heart, and other networks. In his free time, he likes scuba diving, storm chasing, traveling, making music, and drones.
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