YOU Magazine welcomes the award-winning health and wellbeing expert, Susannah Taylor.
During lockdown I lived in leggings hoping that I might leap into spontaneous exercise. So with the cooler weather, it’s been with trepidation that I’ve decided to pull on (squeeze into) my Levi’s. What did I find? Let’s just say I was glad for the button fastening, because a zip may have undone itself when I sat down.
I’m certain I’m a few pounds heavier than I was five months ago, and I’m not alone. After studying the behaviour of four million people throughout the pandemic, the Covid Symptom Study app has found there’s been an average weight gain of 1.6lb and up to 6.5lb, with 35 per cent of people saying snacking may have been a key factor. And according to the Oral Health Foundation, during lockdown 38 per cent of adults snacked more. And who can blame us? We’ve been stuck inside hugging our fridges for months.
In my case, I snack when I have a cup of tea, and there have been lots of those while working from home. When I add up my apple and peanut butter, my chocolate, my lattes and the pasta I steal off my daughter’s plate at teatime, I eat an extra 400 calories a day. My theory is I could lose my extra pounds just by stopping grazing.
I asked top nutritional therapist and author Amelia Freer for advice. She believes we shouldn’t be snacking at all. ‘I’m not a fan of it unless it’s really necessary,’ she says. Instead, she’s a fan of three healthy meals a day. ‘It’s important we have enough of an appetite to eat a decent portion of “proper” food: a good amount of veg, some protein, a little healthy fat and complex carbs.’
Once upon a less obese time, snacking didn’t really exist: there weren’t the endless chocolate bars at store checkouts, nor the abundance of ‘healthy snacks’ – the nut bars, the protein balls – that we nibble on.
However, warns Amelia, ‘Just because they have natural ingredients doesn’t make them any less energy dense.’ The best option if you are hungry, she says, is a piece of fruit or a tablespoon of nuts.
I tell Amelia that I cave in when the hunger pangs strike. ‘When people regularly eat between meals then they are going to feel hungry around the times they usually snack,’ she says, but reassures me we can break the habit: ‘It takes about three weeks of consistent effort to retrain our body and mind.’
One snack attack pitfall is that we often mistake thirst for hunger. ‘Dehydration makes us feel sluggish, so we reach for a sugary pick-me-up,’ says Amelia. ‘So it’s vital we drink enough water or herbal teas to beat thirst.’
So is a snack ever OK? ‘There are occasions when it’s necessary, due to a medical condition, pregnancy or intense training,’ says Amelia. ‘But I encourage my clients to make it another opportunity to nourish their body.’ And she doesn’t think you need to snack pre- and post-exercise, providing you’ve eaten a balanced meal a few hours before (and will again after).
The message is clear – we need to stop being lazy grazers (me included). ‘Nobody ever died of starvation between regular, nourishing meals,’ says Amelia. I’ll let you know if my jeans start to fit.
All natural… and no sweat!
I am a big fan of holistic and nature-based brands, so a few years ago I made the switch to a more natural deodorant. What I found, though, is that many are ineffective. However, I may have discovered the answer in Akt Deodorant Balm (£18, aktlondon.com), created by two West End dancers. A deodorant cream in a tube, you apply it with fingertips or its beautifully designed bronze applicator (£26). It’s full of active botanicals, is free from aluminium, looks beautiful and, above all, really works. And so say all the other dancers they tested it on.
My latest vitamin boost
You may know the ingredients in your cooking, but do you know what’s in your supplements? When it comes to taking vitamins, quality equals efficacy, which is why I love Truth Origins, new to the UK. Created by Dr Harry, an Australian doctor, they are free of synthetic chemicals, are water soluble so are absorbed better, and use only earth-grown ingredients. Choose from Curcumin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Omegas. From £20, truthorigins.co.uk