Teleworking continues, as over 50% of company staff work from home.
Staying at home often leads to boredom which is usually followed by higher food intake and consumption of higher quantities of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. In addition, during quarantine, constantly listening or reading about the pandemic without a break can be stressful and this stress can push the person to overeat, mainly looking for sugary “comfort food”.
This desire to consume a specific kind of food is defined as “food craving”, which is a multidimensional concept including emotional (intense desire to eat), behavioral (seeking food), cognitive (thoughts about food), and physiological (salivation) processes. In fact, a recent study showed that there is a difference between the two sexes, with women wanting to eat more under these circumstances.
But why do people look for food more at this time?
The desire for carbohydrates encourages the production of serotonin which in turn has a positive effect on mood. In a sense, carbohydrate-rich foods can be a way of self-healing against stress. The effect of carbohydrate cravings on low mood is proportional to the glycemic index of food. However, daily consumption should not be increased because there is a risk of developing obesity.
However, there is a more beneficial way to produce serotonin.
But of course, exercise, which releases serotonin, dopamine in the body and causes endocrine secretion also known as “happiness hormones”. It does not take much exercise to reap the benefits. According to research from the University of Vermont, 20 minutes of training is enough to improve our mood for the next 12 hours!
Quarantine-related stress also results in sleep disturbances that in turn further worsen the stress and increase food intake thus giving rise to a dangerous vicious cycle. Therefore, it is important to consume food containing or promoting the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin at dinner. A considerable variety of plant species including roots, leaves, fruits, and seeds such as almonds, bananas, cherries, and oats contain melatonin and/or serotonin.
These foods also contain the amino acid tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin and helps to normalize the sleep cycle. Tryptophan is also found in protein foods such as milk and dairy products. In fact, tryptophan is also involved in regulating saturation through serotonin which reduces the desire for carbohydrate and fat intake. In addition to their sleep-inducing properties, dairy products such as yogurt increase the natural activity of cell-killing cells and reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
In conclusion, during this period it is important to pay attention to our eating habits, following a healthy and balanced diet plan that contains a high amount of minerals, antioxidants and vitamins and is combined with half an hour of daily physical exercise.