Wellness

How Snacking During Lockdown Can Impact Your Health

Young woman lying on sofa at home eating a sweet treat.

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Americans in many ways. Millions of people have quarantined to control the virus. As a result, adults are furloughed or working from home, and students of all ages are attending classes online. It’s affecting people’s health both mentally and physically. For example, consider how snacking during the lockdown can impact your health.

Mental health

Researchers say people are experiencing more depression during the pandemic. About 20% of people report symptoms of anxiety in recent months, compared to 14% before the pandemic. They are stressed from worries about getting COVID-19 and the long-term impact on their jobs, finances and families.

During the lockdown, about 44% of people surveyed report problems sleeping. They stay up later and sleep at least an hour later than before the pandemic. Many people report waking up during the night with fears of catching the virus on their minds. To ease their anxiety, they snack more and often drink more. But comfort foods and drinks are not always healthy.

Physical health

COVID-19 developed quickly, and within weeks, most businesses and schools closed. It seemed like overnight, people were in lockdown, and everyday activities were put on hold. Only essential workers continued to serve their communities. However, most people were stuck at home, working or not able to work, watching digital devices and TV, and playing video games.

Research shows due to the unexpected shutdown, many people consoled their boredom with snacking. However, snacking between meals can cause weight gain. Obese adults have gained more weight than those considered overweight or of average weight. On the flip side, about 17% indicate they have lost weight. In comparison, some children have gained up to 20 or 30 pounds during lockdown due to increased snacking and inactivity.

Dental health

The Oral Health Foundation encourages people to watch their snacking habits. Many snacks contain sugars and carbohydrates that can combine with oral bacteria to form plaque on tooth surfaces. Over time, plaque attacks enamel, causing decay and gum disease. Usually, healthy mouth bacteria neutralize acids, but continuous snacking makes it difficult to keep plaque under control. During lockdown is a good time to focus on things you can control, such as forming healthier habits.

The American Dental Association encourages adults and children to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time – after breakfast and before bedtime. Then make sure to floss once daily, and schedule regular appointments for dental exams and professional cleanings. Many people are putting off going to the dentist during the pandemic due to fears about their health and safety. Find out how dental offices are keeping patients safe and healthy.

Dental experts also recommend limiting sugary sweets and foods high in carbohydrates. After meals or consuming beverages with sugar, try chewing some tasty sugar-free gum for 20 minutes. The chewing action helps produce saliva to rinse off acids and food particles that collect on teeth and gums. And it will freshen your breath as well.

Due to the pandemic, Americans of all ages are wearing masks to protect them from the virus. However, many people are struggling with dry mouth and bad breath. Learn how to protect your oral health.

Sources:
HealthDay

Oral Health Foundation
5 NBC