We have heard that most people gain weight during field work. This is not a new issue. We have watched several movie celebrities gain weight during film production. We have also seen some talk-show celebrities gain weight during their campaigns for presidential elections. Weight gain has not spared institutions. Several researchers gain weight during data collection.
Purpose and methodology
I had the opportunity to collect data in a group with others a couple of years ago. I took that chance to test the hypothesis that people gain weight during field work. I observed what they ate, the fluids which they drank, how they worked, and their reactions to issues during field work. I noticed that our research group could be divided into three groups. The first group involved those, who ate too much. They ate mostly fried-potato chips with chicken or beef. They drank carbonic soft drinks. They ate also ice creams of varying sizes and flavors. They ate also large beef burgers on white bread with mayonnaise. They had both their breakfast and lunch in large quantities. The second group comprised those, who ate just enough. This group ate food in medium-size portions, often at lunch time only. They ate often their home-cooked food, and drank carbonic sodas. I observed that both the first and second groups ate fatty and sweet food without vegetables. The third group consisted of those, who ate and drank absolutely nothing during the research.
Yet, interesting, I found that after one month of researching together, most people in each group, gained too much weight regardless of whether they ate too much, enough or nothing. This meant that it is not just the food, which makes people gain weight during field work although most celebrities blame their weight gain on food. These groups could have gained weight at home not necessarily from field work, since their eating habits and reactions were not monitored at home. However, my discussions with them revealed that their weight gain occurred mostly during field work. These groups had certain things in common. I observed the following common practices among them:
- Most people did not drink water during field work. A few did, but they drank very little water, and drank it at wrong times—often during meals. They said that they did not drink water because it was impossible to get access to toilets when researching within residential areas. Yet, the public toilets were about five minutes walking from residential areas. Water is very crucial to weight maintenance. It helps the muscles to squeeze fats and waste material off the body. Thus, it is best to replace the larger part of carbonic drinks with water during field work.
- No one ate fruit and vegetables during field work. Yet, fruit and vegetables help, especially in the absence of water, to ease the bowels and push the waste material out of the body. This process is vital for weight maintenance.
- None of them went to the toilet despite eating either too much or simply enough. After eating, they would simply hurry back into the field to continue with their research work. Even the group, which ate nothing during field work did not go to the bath despite having eaten something in the morning before reporting for fieldwork. Yet, it is a simple theory: food must go in, and residues must come out without which the body gains weight.
- All of them were often stressed and complained about many things.
- None of them seemed to rest or relax while eating. They discussed often about stressful things, while eating. Immediately after eating, they rushed back to do field work.
In view of the above, I say that over eating is not the only issue, which leads to weight gain because even the group—which ate nothing—gained weight. This means that lack of enough water and fruit contribute to weight gain. It means also that stress and lack of rest leads to weight gain.
Anyone conducting field work must:
- Eat only enough food—check for over or under eating
- Eat nutritious food—check for fatty, sweet and salty food. You can eat these, but not daily
- Eat enough fruit or salads, which have a high content of water like water melons, lettuce, etc
- Rest and relax by taking two breaks of 15 minutes each—one before and one after lunch. Then, take 30 minutes to eat, while relaxing during lunch hour. This gives you a total of 1 hour of rest and relaxation if working under pressure. It is better than taking 1 hour for lunch at once.
- Drink enough water and make sure that you use the toilet during the short breaks. Walking to the public toilets might help you relax your body and muscles. Take in deep breaths as you walk. Loosen your arms and push out your chest as you walk to allow air in and out of your body.
- Deal with the source of stress instead of piling it up.
- It might help not discussing stressful topics during meals.
@ Chipo Muponisi, Unedited post