Dieticians have gained popularity in recent years as obesity rates climbed in Turkey. But the lingering coronavirus pandemic is keeping the sector busier than ever, as people find themselves excessively eating while confined at home during lockdowns. A sedentary lifestyle, again linked to restrictions caused by the pandemic, worsens the situation. Changing nutrition and sleeping habits add to the fattening public's woes. Dieticians warn that remote working or reduced working hours may aggravate health problems further.
Associate professor Fatih Özbey, who heads the Department of Dietetics at Health Sciences University (SBÜ) Hamidiye Faculty of Health Sciences, warns that being confined at home and the accompanying stress of catching the infection, pushed people to "emotionally eat, "a term used to describe when people to suppress negative emotions, like stress, with food, often eating too much.
Özbey warns that responding to sudden weight gain with equally "fast" diets is also dangerous. "Putting too much stress on the body, tiring it further lowers the guard of the immune system and exposes you to the risk of both COVID-19 and other diseases. You should consult with a doctor or dietician for a controlled loss of weight," he warned.
"Although there is no food that can prevent the spread of the virus on its own, a healthy and balanced diet, together with physical activity and regular sleep, strengthens the immune system,” Büşra Sabur, a dietician, says. Sabur said that even her patients who follow a strict healthy diet experienced weight gain during the lockdowns. She explains that this is because people tend to do less physical activity during the pandemic and consume more packaged foods, noting that the environment is more leisurely at home. "The pandemic also causes fears of starting a diet among people and they begin to eat more to strengthen their immune system,” she said. For Sabur, it is the wrong way to proceed. "Unfortunately, it is not the right path. A healthy diet boosts the immune system by meeting all our nutritional needs,” she said. But if bodyweight increases with the unconscious intake of calories, our immunity suffers from the risk of obesity, she noted.