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COLUMN: When the fried chickens come home to roost

Too much comfort food eventually leads to physical discomfort

Whether you’ve dubbed that extra few inches you’ve started carrying around your waist the COVID ‘19’ or proclaimed yourself a victim of the ‘poundemic,’ take heart in knowing that you are not alone.

Far from it, in fact.

There are thousands of us in the same boat and our numbers are growing every day – in more ways than one.

We are becoming a well-rounded bunch. Like those who learned to bake bread or took up decoupage when everything shut down for a while last spring, I also found a hobby in the early days of the pandemic.

I began comfort-eating like I was training to go pro. And, as the old saying goes, practice does indeed make perfect.

It’s no coincidence that when dine-in was not an option, I (like countless others, judging from the lineups) rediscovered the convenience of the fast food drive-thru.

When you’re feeling a bit blue because you can’t meet your friends for drinks or a movie, it’s not hard to convince yourself, while balancing a burger and fries on your lap, that you really do deserve that creamy chocolate shake, too.

And then there’s the grocery store. Making trips as infrequent as possible, for safety’s sake, means stocking up while you’re there. This includes preparing for any potential snacking emergencies well in advance. After all, you have no way of knowing what you’ll be craving over the next couple weeks. Could be sweet, could be salty or, more likely, some combination of the two.

There’s just no way to predict it, so it’s best to get one (or two) of everything while you can.

And when you think about it, buying the extra large, economy-sized bag of ripple chips is just a prudent financial move. Bulk is always better – until that bulk prevents you from zipping up your pants.

A report earlier this month claimed that among the few businesses that are actually thriving during this global crisis are restaurants devoted to that ultimate comfort food – fried chicken. Several independent ventures have reportedly bucked the trend and opened in the past 10 months or so, while some popular chain restaurants, like many of us, continue to expand.

Whether it’s deep-fried chicken on a bun or a bowl of Rocky Road that’s getting you through this ordeal, throwing off the shackles of a healthy diet is all fun and games, until you realize that it’s actually not all that much fun. There’s a reason our parents didn’t let us subsist on a diet of sugary desserts – eventually, without proper nutrition, you begin to feel like garbage.

Making the situation worse right now is the winter blues – which tend to peak in January – coming this year amid months of COVID-related restrictions.

Experts will tell us, much like our own experience does, that a healthy diet, combined with a bit of exercise, can make a world of difference.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that we can all simply walk away our troubles. People who suffer from depression require and deserve professional help. But those of us who are just feeling generally blah know that when we eat well and get even a moderate amount of exercise we tend to feel better, both physically and mentally.

The challenge for me is remembering that I actually do enjoy exercise before dragging my butt for the first 20 minutes of an hour-long power walk.

The other thing worth remembering is that this, too, shall pass. With the province’s vaccine rollout plan in place, by the time next winter rolls around, life should be pretty much back to normal.

And we can all take comfort in that.

Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.

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