In this blog article, I would like to give you 4 relevant reasons why you should stay away from dieting and calorie restriction during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, it is never recommended to go on any calorie restriction program since we’ve already know that they only lead to eating disorders (binge eating disorder, orthorexia, etc) and contribute in general to a negative relationship with food and the body. However, during this pandemic we need to take extra care of our body and mental health in order to stay safe and healthy.
1. Your Immune System
Due to the spread of the coronavirus, public places including gyms are closed for an unknown period of time. You must be thinking of restricting your calorie intake now because you cannot properly engage into exercising. I understand that you care about your body and you don’t want to gain weight by not moving your body for the next few months. However, going on a calorie restriction just for the sake of not gaining weight, is not a good idea in general, and especially not now.
The coronavirus pandemic surrounding us makes the situation risky. People with a stronger immune system have higher chances of not getting the virus itself and recovering from it. In order to boost your immune system and stay strong internally, you should not be eating less calories as this could deprive your body from essential vitamins and minerals that your body especially needs now.
Besides necessary precautions like hand washing, maintaining social distance, and staying home, you should be paying serious attention to your immune system to decrease the chances of catching the coronavirus or fighting it if infected.
Therefore, you must be eating enough calories in form of high-quality meals throughout the day. If possible, choose to eat organic fresh produce to nourish your body and eat whole meals including carbs, proteins, and fats which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You should be consuming at least one or two bowls of vegetables and fruits along with your regular meals every day.
So, if you diet and restrict calories, you will be doing more damage than good to your body. Your body needs all the vital minerals and nutrients to prepare itself and stay healthy in case of an infection. When you restrict calories, the body runs on a short supply of energy and thus it limits the functions happening inside of it. That’s the reason why many people who struggle with eating disorders (such as binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia) or disordered eating often feel sick and have decreased immunity. To save your body from getting nutrient deficient and keep the immunity at its optimal, this is not the best time for calorie restriction.
2. Food Restriction Doesn’t Give You Certainty
It won’t be wrong to say that we are living in uncertain times, where what will happen tomorrow and the day after, is a mystery. We miss going to work, meeting friends and family, and simple things like talking to a stranger while sitting in a café enjoying a good meal. The pandemic is affecting us all physically, financially, emotionally and mentally.
It is a natural instinct that we look for certainty in our lives. To feel safe and certain of their own body, humans tend to control their food intake in order to receive the feeling of certainty and safety.
It is common to eat abnormally, for the sake of getting out of mental stress. Our body wants to feel safe, therefore our brain and psyche are trying hard to achieve it. When it cannot control the outer factors and has no control over the things happening around us, it starts sending messages to control the body’s internal tasks. To create a “fake” feeling of certainty and safety it manipulates our brain to eat differently or restrictedly.
“By controlling our food intake, we receive the feeling of control in our lives.”
This is why people end up with eating disorders or a disordered eating behavior when they cannot control whatever is happening in their life! But let’s address the truth – eating irregularly is not going to change anything, neither our finances, emotions nor the world’s situation.
Thinking that going on an extreme diet at this moment will give you real certainty is simply an illusion you shouldn’t fall for. You need to relax yourself and be mindful of your body. Irrespective of what you hear from others, your mind and body are important equally to you and this is why you should not let a pandemic destroy your inner peace and health.
Because real certainty and safety comes from the inside and not from what we eat and how much of it.
3. Dieting Will Prolong Your Recovery
Do not forget the effort and hard work you’ve already put into recovering from your eating disorder, your negative relationship with food and your body. If you go on a diet now, you are going to regret it later because you will be pushed back to the point where you’ve started. Read the article about the Set Point Theory and Weight Disproportion to understand why.
Recovering from an eating disorder is a complex emotional process, therefore stay patient and do not give up. The beginning is always half the battle, but starting all over again will be even harder.
It doesn’t matter if you struggle with binge eating, yoyo-dieting, body dysmorphia – you’ve already come a long way for sure. Therefore, try to remember how far you’ve already come and that this pandemic is dealt with a stern hand, which means things will get better sooner or later. You are responsible for yourself and your decision thus keep in mind that your current actions are creating your future.
4. Calorie Restriction Can Push You Into An Eating Disorder Again
Going on an extreme diet may look tempting, you are home and you don’t even have to go out or meet anyone for a while, which sounds like the perfect opportunity. You may lose a few pounds, but at the end of the day you will be doing more harm than good. The body becomes weak, when you restrict calories and eat less than what the body requires.
You may lose weight initially, but there will come the point when cravings kick in and eventually you will end up eating more than your body needs. Because we cannot cheat on our body and our body will always take back what we deprived it from. Chances are high that you go back to the same condition of a binge or restrictive eating cycle. Restricting calories, slows down the metabolism which can even make the body resistant to weight loss and puts you rather in a yo-yo dieting condition. Which means in the end of the day you go back to where you’ve started, wasting all of your time and energy.
You can hold back the calories for a while, but when the body runs low on essential nutrients and vitamins, your body will force you to make up for the deprived nutrients at some point.
The bottom line is, don’t go on diets or engage in any restricted eating behaviors. Give your body all the essential vitamins and nutrients to support your immune system. The pandemic will end at some point and until then you should take this chance to show yourself how far you’ve already come. Keep your immune system functioning at its best and remember to put your mental and physical health as your first priority!
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