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Lockdown made me Fat ! I’ve always considered my self a bit, let’s say, chunky; maybe stocky? In boxing terms, a slightly out of shape cruiser weight rather than a svelte toned middleweight. Although the mirror has revealed some discrepancies over the past 50 years, I’ve consistently bounced from an extra 10kg and back again. Even in my most dimorphous moments my bathroom mirror and I have been firm (or un-firm) friends. Do not misunderstand me; I’m not like Oscar Wilde’s vainglorious Dorian Gray who sold his soul to the devil to preserve his youthful beauty. My unwrapped reflection is of a guy that has not quite lost control – until now that is.…

Now I am fat! Not big-boned, rubenesque, curvy, plump or any other euphemism.  Forget Fat-Boy-Slim, I am Fat-Boy-Fat. A super heavy- weight boxing title contender. I would get a group discount at a funfair. I would need Google Earth to take a selfie. I have more rolls than a bakery… OK. Enough of this self-imposed fat shaming! The question is why have I put on so much weight during lockdown?

It seems I am not the only one to transition from cuddly to porcine. In a survey by Cape Town-based healthcare company Pharma Dynamics, 45% of respondents said that lockdown regulations had negatively impacted their eating and exercise habits. A further 44% revealed that they had picked up between 2kg and 5kg and a further 15% of respondents gained between 6kg and 10kg. Then there are the top 4 percent overachievers like me who gained 10kg or more.

Pharma Dynamics spokesperson Nicole Jennings said of the survey, “Many of the respondents polled attributed the change in their eating habits to stress and anxiety of what the future holds and 42% said being confined in their homes led to snacking and impulsive eating. 28% also said they ate out of boredom and 42% were exercising less than they did before the pandemic.”

Personally, it has been a proximity problem for me. My nearness to the fridge for instance, as well as my proximity to the chef community.

Yep, I blame chefs!! Lockdown spawned a downpour of demos on social media. Not banting, keto, paleo or intermittent fasting inspired demonstrations; but full-fatted, hot-buttered, farm-cheddared, pasta-filled, pie-crusted entertainment. COMFORT FOOD.

During the worst moments of lockdown, chefs proved to be eminently qualified to provide us with something to hold onto during this traumatic time. Well, some of us ended up with a lot more to hold on to. Comfort does not come in the shape of a raw carrot, a quinoa salad or in a bean and feta buddha bowl. Comfort boldly marches in brandishing Oxtail stew, chocolate cake, steak pie and apple crumble.

Even as lockdown restrictions start to lift, many of my chef friends have changed their menus to offer guests food that will bring them joy during these dark times. Big hearty dollops of joy. Good honest uncomplicated food that provides a feeling of well-being and associations with childhood memories.

Well, thanks Chef – bang goes my diet.

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By Stephen Hickmore

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