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The lockdown floodgates are finally opening and that means our favourite restaurants and cafes will be open for business – if they’re not already – tempting us from our homes with the promise of delicious food made by someone else for a change.
If you’re anything like me, you will have spent at least some of the past eight weeks daydreaming about which restaurant you’re going to hit first, or which pub does the best parmigiana, and so you’ll know exactly where you’re going when their doors finally open.
But if you thought the risk of unwanted weight gain while in isolation was bad, just wait until this flood of cooped-up Australians washes over our restaurants and cafes like a swarm of hungry locusts.
So with change, and a sense of freedom, in the air, what better time to put together a post-COVID cheat sheet to ensure you get all the socialising, and food, you want, without any of the adverse health effects.
And for that, I reached out to leading obesity expert and best-selling author of Interval Weight Loss, Dr Nick Fuller.
As the research program leader at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, few are better qualified to navigate this post-COVID world of glorious food.
It’s important to point out here that, while Dr Fuller stresses moderation, nobody is suggesting you don’t visit your local restaurants and cafes.
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They’ve had a hellish time during lockdown, with plenty teetering on the brink of devastation, and your support will mean everything to them.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out with the right tactics.
“Research shows that we put on weight during festive times and holidays. These are times when our usual routine is disrupted and we find ourselves less active and eating more junk,” Dr Fuller says.
“We typically put on up to a kilogram during this time and then spend the rest of the year trying to get it off, only to speed up the weight gain through (failed) dieting.
“COVID is one of those times where we will come out heavier due to the change in our usual routine.
“However, there is still ample time to see this as an opportunity to regain control of your health and your weight and to come out of this period lighter.”
FAST FACTS ON … EATING IN MODERATION
1. Pick your days
“Everyone can still enjoy going out when trying to lose weight or maintain their weight, but it shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence,” Dr Fuller says.
“It is more important to try and reduce the frequency of eating out rather than worrying about what you eat when you are out. If you want the laksa, have the laksa, but stick to dining out just once per week if trying to lose weight, and twice per week if trying to maintain your weight.”
2. Embrace leftovers
“Start cooking more at the evening meal so you have leftovers for lunch the next day,” Dr Fuller says.
“This eliminates the stress of preparing lunch when you wake up in the morning and worse still, having to rely on takeaway options.”
3. One glass a day
“Alcohol can still be enjoyed and you should never cut out anything you enjoy – this includes your favourite foods,” Dr Fuller says.
“When trying to lose weight, you should have no more than one glass per day and you should try and enjoy at least two nights alcohol-free per week.
“There are potential health benefits with low levels of alcohol consumption (all types) but it is still a toxin.”
4. Make the natural choice
“Whenever you are craving something fatty or sweet, tell yourself to reach for nature first, as these foods also give us the same high in the brain as the takeaway meals and processed foods,” Dr Fuller says.
“Cook with plenty of olive oil and snack on fruit, nuts, 100 per cent nut butters and honey – foods naturally high in good fats and sugar.”
* Send your health questions to [email protected]
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