The coronavirus pandemic has shifted just about everyone’s routines. Chances are, it’s shifted your nutrition or fitness regimens, too. But you don’t have to let stress and snack foods take over your weight loss goals. Here are our top tips for avoiding overeating and making wellness your priority.
1. Check in with yourself.
Overeating is something we often do to combat stress, boredom or other feelings that aren’t directly linked to sensations of physical hunger. When you find yourself turning to the refrigerator between mealtimes, do a quick physical and emotional scan to see how you’re feeling.
Hungry? By all means, find a healthy snack to keep your appetite at bay until lunch or dinner time. But if you find that you’re sad, lonely or anxious, take a deep breath and consider what might be more effective. Could you go for a short walk around the block, rewatch a favorite movie or call a friend? When you’re honest about what you’re feeling, you’ll be that much more capable of solving the real problem.
2. Eat with de-stressing in mind.
The way we choose to fuel our bodies directly impacts our stress levels, and so will either drive or decrease our impulse to eat mindlessly. Especially during a time like this, think of your food choices as a long-term ally in the battle against anxiety.
Make sure you are getting enough protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and fiber-rich grains – getting the nutrients you need for a full day of activity is just as important as ever. Minimize alcohol, sugar and white carbs whenever you can, and be mindful of your caffeine intake. Limiting or omitting caffeine after lunchtime will help set you up for a good night’s sleep.
3. Stay hydrated.
Missing water breaks at the office? It’s just as important to make hydration a priority all day long while working from home or sheltering in place. Proper hydration is essential for energy, focus and alertness, plus it can reduce congestion and keep your digestion and immune system running smoothly. Staying hydrated also ensures you won’t mistake thirst for hunger and indulge in unnecessary snacking.
First, calculate how many daily ounces of fluid you’ll need: aim for half of your body weight in
ounces of fluid (for example, that’s 80 ounces of liquid for a 160-pound person). Then, make sure you’re hydrating during and between meals. Soups, smoothies and even Greek yogurt count toward your daily total; you can also reach for a no- or low-sugar sports drink or add an electrolyte tablet if you’re tired of plain water. If you just want a little kick, try squeezing a little lemon, lime or orange into your water or tea for flavor and vitamin C.
4. Look for nutritious alternatives to crave-worthy favorites.
From carbs to salty snacks to sweet treats, there’s probably something you hanker for when things get stressful. If your cravings only get worse the longer you ignore them, you’re not alone. A more effective solution is to prepare a healthy alternative so you’re ready when they strike.
Ice cream – Consider one of the varieties of higher-protein, lower sugar ice creams. They can be quite tasty and will make a much smaller dent in your caloric intake. Better yet, make your own frozen yogurt pops with Greek yogurt and frozen fruit. Blend it just like a smoothie and then freeze it in a mold for a homemade sweet treat.
Chocolate – In small doses, chocolate can provide some health benefits, but the sugar-laden kind might do you more harm than good. Opt for (at least) 70% dark chocolate.
Crunchy/salty snacks – Tortilla chips are tasty, but there are healthier options out there. If you love chips, give Beanitos (a bean-based chip) a try. Or if saltines are your thing, try Triscuit Thin Crisps (or Mary’s Gone Crackers and Van’s Crackers for gluten-free options).
Pasta – Add some variety to a lunch and dinner staple. This is a great time to experiment with higher fiber or higher protein options like chickpea pasta (try the brand Banza), spiralized zucchini (available ready-made in freezer section) or spaghetti squash.
Looking for more guidance? Ochsner’s EatFit Smartphone App has recipes and brand-specific shopping guides to help you make sense of any aisle in the grocery store.
5. Embrace frozen produce.
Nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables may be taking a back seat at this time, but keep in mind that frozen vegetable and fruits can be just as nutritious and tasty. Make mushy peas a thing of the past by watching a free video tutorial on how to properly cook frozen produce, and then consider how you can get creative. Think turning frozen spinach into creamed spinach by adding low-fat Greek yogurt, or replacing white rice with spiced cauliflower as a delicious side dish.
6. Don’t forget the probiotics.
Probiotics are bacteria that provide several health benefits, including support for our immune system. They occur naturally in fermented foods, such as Greek yogurt (look for plain, low-fat Greek yogurt), sauerkraut (look for refrigerated kinds or make your own), and kombucha (look for brands that keep it simple, with black or green tea and kombucha culture topping the ingredient list.
7. Find a home workout you love.
You might be missing the gym, but staying at home doesn’t have to mean putting your workouts on pause. There are more online workout options than ever before, both paid and free. Take advantage of those that offer free trials to see if a barre class or high-intensity interval training workout is right for you. Or simply dust off your running shoes and go for an old-fashioned jog.
Staying active is vital to keeping those quarantine pounds at bay and, even better, will improve your mood and ability to cope with a difficult situation. When it comes to movement, find something you love and aim for consistency.
Still have questions? Our team of nutrition and wellness experts is here for you. Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a virtual visit, or check out our EatFit cookbook online to start making some delicious, nutrition-packed recipes at home today!