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In unprecedented times such as now, many individuals are confronted with some of the underlying issues they may be dealing with that had previously been suppressed. COVID has brought on many challenges for individuals including unemployment, travel restrictions, closures of businesses and has all together changed our way of living.
With these restrictions in place including the closure of gyms, many face the fear of gaining ‘quarantine fat’ and losing the ability to manage these fears through training in facilities and venues. Since lockdowns have occurred worldwide, we have seen a number of new diet jokes including ‘iso diet’ being spread around and unrealistic expectations that these diets will have on your appearance and what they aim to do. A quick reminder is that we know that no diet EVER has been demonstrated to have sustained weight loss after 2-5 years. It is about having a healthy balance and relationship with food.
CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association, Claire Mysko commented on the detrimental effects of COVID weights jokes stating, “weight-gain memes and comments are damaging to all of us, and particularly to people who are personally affected by eating disorders.’ During a worldwide major health crisis, individuals especially teens and adolescent’s social media feeds are flooded with fat jokes and memes. Although these jokes are meant to be light-hearted, it can have major effects on the younger generation as they associate weight gain and ‘fat’ as a very negative thing and contribute to unnecessary ‘fears’ and fat phobias.
UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson has recently initiated the plans for a 10-million-pound campaign to ‘tackle obesity’ in England. (Campbell, Walker and Siddique, 2020) This campaign includes the implementation and change of advertisements, billboards to support healthier living and providing the nutritional facts and calories on alcoholic beverages including alcohol bottles and cans and wine. Johnson’s initiative has stemmed from his illness with COVID-19 back in April where he believes that his unhealthy weight had contributed to the longevity of his sickness. Johnson strongly believes that tackling obesity and managing individuals’ weight at a healthy range especially during this worldwide pandemic should be actioned immediately to help reduce the rate and effects COVID can have on individuals.
Unfortunately, the pressures around weight will always be prevalent among social media platforms, however, we are able to slowly change the narrative around weight stigma by supporting body positivity and introducing new habits that will enable us to remain healthy both physically and mentally during times like this.
Some tips on what you CAN do to remain healthy during COVID are:
- Eat mindfully
- Move your body in a way that you ENJOY – Do not force yourself to do exercises you don’t like
- Manage your stress
- Be open with how you are feeling and don’t be afraid to reach out!
- Create and stick to a routine even if your situation has changed
- Surround yourself with supportive people
NBC News. 2020. Opinion | COVID-19 Diet Memes Prove We Never Stop Hating Our Bodies — Even In Isolation. [online] Available at: <https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/covid-19-diet-memes-aren-t-funny-coronavirus-fat-shaming-ncna1191151>
Campbell, D., Walker, P. and Siddique, H., 2020. Boris Johnson To Unveil £10M Ad Campaign To Cut Obesity In England. [online] the Guardian. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jul/25/boris-johnson-to-unveil-10m-ad-campaign-to-cut-obesity-in-england>