If the pandemic caused the worst health crisis of this century, it also quietly gave way to something else: Lockdowns, bored people, stocked food supplies, and burgeoning waistlines. This combination has significantly reshaped our food habits and food-related decisions. From being a source of survival to becoming a major source of entertainment, the very concept of food changed for millions of Indians.
How Did The Lockdown Affect Our Food Habits?
When the government announced the lockdown following the rise of Covid19 cases across the country, food became a major concern for every Indian household. Our attention quickly turned to what foods to stock at home, how to shop, and where to source our food supplies. Households everywhere stocked up on groceries. In the days that followed, food became the biggest source of comfort, along with streaming services.
Diets and New Year food resolutions went out the window. The pandemic-induced boredom formulated an apt recipe for big changes in dietary habits. Fortunately, the lockdowns seem to have positively impacted our eating habits and food choices.
Surprised? Well, that's the truth. Here are five ways how the pandemic changed our food habits for good.
Dietary Habit Changes: What Happened & How?
Change # 1: How We Purchased Food
The first thing we changed was how we purchased food supplies. Being housebound for an unending number of days forced us to buy, cook, and eat in ways we would not have otherwise attempted. Our grocery and food list became more focused and concise.
How It Changed:
As food prices surged, affordable pantry staples became manna from heaven for many of us. Low-cost sources of protein like lentil varieties took a prominent place in our daily menu. Stand alone mom-and-pop shops, farmers, and small-scale organic vendors became our biggest sources of affordable vegetables and fruits.
Tapping into our native wisdom, home cooks resorted to locally available millets, grains and lentils to create super-rich and low-calorie foods and snacks. Out went the packed chips, popcorn and expensive high-calorie foods. "Homemade" was welcomed with open arms and hungry bellies!
Change# 2: Home-Cooked Food: The New Mantra
Whether fuelled by choice or compulsion, one of the biggest shifts was thriving solely on home-cooked food during the initial lockdown phase. With the unavailability of all other outdoor sources of food, simple home-cooked meals provided the needed nourishment.
How It Changed:
60% of consumers worldwide reported relying on home-cooking. Even the working class that was forced to juggle jobs and kitchen duties creatively came up with amazing ideas. Here's what happened:
- Easy-to-cook meal kits and one-pot, belly-filling recipes were created.
- Luxury requirements were set aside and minimalism became the norm.
- Available ingredients replaced whatever food item wasn't available.
- Leftovers were repurposed into new, fancy, and nourishing dishes.
- Younger generation resorted to cooking and baking new items.
- Social media platforms aided in helping home cooks and bakers.
Change #3: Healthier Eating & Food Safety
One of the best things about the pandemic was that it emphasised the importance of good health and strong immunity. There was an increased awareness about the consumption of food and lifestyle changes.
How It Changed:
Big food changes took place when people:
- Consumed more fruits, vegetables, and dietary fibre
- Reduced the intake of sugary, fried, and fatty foods
- Increased their reliance on nutrient-dense plant-based foods
- Reduced the consumption of animal protein
However, the reduced consumption of animal protein was fuelled by baseless rumours and fears that the animals might be potential virus carrying hosts.
Change# 4: Weight Watching & Dieting
A study conducted on adults and adolescents indicated that the lockdown period resulted in a significant increase in body weight, although some people reported weight loss. The limitation of physical exercise and increased snacking led to a gain in body weight.
How It Changed:
Surprisingly, calorie-counting became a top dieting trend in 2021. Besides, more people were into Intermittent Fasting, and at least four out of ten people followed some diet model. And yes, individuals were consuming more calories per day from home-cooked meals rather than takeout meals and processed foods. At the same time, people were drinking more water, coffee, soda, and alcohol.
Change # 5: Insatiable Snacking Habits
Data says that snacking volumes grew by 8% in April-May 2020 and 12% in April-May 2021. Apparently, home confinement prompted consumers to create new snacking occasions, which was several times a day. The result? Ever-expanding waistlines, increase in unhealthy health parameters.
How It Changed:
People were working from home, children had online classes, and pretty much everyone was within an arm's reach from their kitchen counters. They were also abundantly stressed and bored, and snacking became an ideal coping mechanism. People were enjoying multiple mid-meal munchies to quell their hunger pangs. Families that once prided themselves on strict, limited-calorie meals were preparing elaborate menus. It was the new food norm, despite the irony.
Will New Food Habits Spell Our Doom?
As life slowly returns to normalcy, we will, fortunately, see a resurgence of healthy eating and lifestyle habits. What matters is that these habits are carried forward, for the Covid19 pandemic is highly unpredictable. We may or may not face more lockdowns and confinement. No matter what happens, if you have committed yourself to practising good food habits, continue doing the same.
The onus is on each one of us to prioritise our health and nutrition in this Covid-ridden era. Remember that it is not a sin to occasionally swerve from your food habits. But do not make it an everyday routine.
Moreover, if you are struggling to shed your lockdown weight gain, you can always choose a good weight loss program to put you on the right track. In Chennai, GET Fit 360's holistic weight loss program offers the right blend of physical, psychological, and motivational techniques. Register yourself today and get ready for a healthy transformation!