Should we reduce our food intake when self-isolating?

The health and nutrition world can be extremely difficult to navigate, especially around Covid19. There are endless memes about gaining weight, hundreds of online workouts, and a national mentality of 'earn what you eat' so its no wonder that people are getting anxious and stress levels are through the roof.

During this time, many of our daily routines will have changed, such as working from home, or self isolating. With that, it is expected that our food habits will also have changed. You may be sleeping different times, eating at different times, find you are more sedentary, or you may be struggling to find your usual cooking ingredients.

Many people will find the lack of familiarity & structure difficult, especially those that suffer from mental health disorders. The eating disorder charity BEAT have seen a 35% increase in need from those suffering with eating disorders. Note: If you are struggling with an ED the BEAT website have some fantastic resources.

It can be useful to know that regardless of what you do your body still needs energy.  
Resting Metabolic rate (RMR) is an estimate of how many calories you would burn if you were to do NOTHING but rest all day. RMR represents the minimum amount of energy to keep your body functioning including breathing, digestion and keeping your heart beating.
Even when you are at home you will still be exerting energy by moving from room to room, washing, cleaning and putting the dishes away. Every day we use our brains which need energy mainly in the form of carbohydrates. Therefore despite you level of activity your body still requires energy.

Working out your RMR can give you a rough idea of how much you should be consuming on a daily basis. This is not a number to become fixated on, but is a reminder that despite your activity levels your body still needs energy, so NO we should not be restricting what we eat during self-isolation.

Here is how you can work out you RMR:
Women: (10x weight Kg) + (6.25 x height cm) - (5x age) - 161
Men: (10x weight Kg) + (6.25 x height cm) - (5x age +5)

The next step is to work out your daily expenditure:

Mostly inactive - 1.2
Fairly active ( 1-2 times per week) - 1.3
Moderately active ( 2-3 times per week) - 1.5
Very active ( exercise hard daily) 1.7

To work out your daily calories multiply your RMR by your daily expenditure.

Remember, everyone deals with times of uncertainty & stress in different ways. You may find you are turning to food as a comfort, and a way soothing and suppressing emotions, which is a normal response. Often the types of food we craved can trigger dopamine and serotonin production ( our happy hormones) releasing pleasure signals. Or maybe you don't feel like eating due to guilt or lack of appetite. Whatever your feeling, now is the time to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you would a friend.

Love H x