Let’s face it, the past couple months have been a crazy adjustment in the way we live, work and behave. With the kitchen now just steps away from many new home offices, many of us have begun to notice what I’m calling the “Quarantine 15.” This is the extra few pounds that may have been gained while being stuck at home stress-eating with zero access to the gym or little interaction with the outside due to the Corona Virus.
Research has shown that stress alters overall food intake, resulting in either under, or overeating, which is influenced by the stressor severity. Life stresses can lead us to pick comfort foods – namely those that are high in sugar and fat. Along with these poor eating choices comes concerns about gaining weight because of social distancing and isolation stress eating.
As restrictions are beginning to lighten up in June, I wanted to offer a few helpful tips that can help re-establish a healthy and active routine. If you follow these tips, it can help break the cycle of emotional eating and mindless snacking throughout the day, while giving you a sense of structure to build from.
- “Failing to Plan, is Planning to Fail.” – Take a minute out in the morning to set meal times through your day. When you do this you’ll make time for cooking quality foods, and you get the valuable bonus of family face time at the table.
- Eat Nutritious Foods – Slowly digested high-fiber foods like whole grains and pasta stabilize blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease and relive mild depression. You’ll find omegas in seafood, nuts, seeds, and oils like canola flax, and soybean.
- Portion Meals – When you’re at home, it’s easy to drink from cartons, or snack from bags and eat out of containers. The problem is if you don’t measure out your food, you automatically eat more. Instead of eating from cartons, bags and containers which contributes to unwanted weight gain and obesity. Try meal prepping in containers or smaller plates – studies show that using smaller plates leads to less eating.
- Practice Mindful Eating – Try and avoid the three G’s (gobble, gulp, and go) by not eating while you’re on the run, standing, driving, or watching TV. Treat mealtimes as a meaningful and valuable activity. Sitting down, eating slowly, and chewing a few times before swallowing will lead to appreciating textures, aromas, and flavors and enjoyment of your meals as well as aid with digestion.
- Inventory Your Kitchen – Studies show that when you eliminate unhealthy food and snacks in the house and replace them with healthy whole foods, you will be more likely to eat better. When you’re stressed we let our emotions get the best of us at times, if we limit our selection of what’s in front of us it will help us not give in to cravings.
- Exercise Self-Care – In addition to good nutrition, there are two other parts to the healthy equation. Getting quality sleep is essential for recovery of the mind and body – a normal adult needs 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night to feel refreshed and recharged for the day. Exercise, it is important to exercise and elevate your heart rate for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. I understand it has been a bit difficult with the quarantine, but as things ease up a bit take a jog outside, jump rope, shoot some hoops, go for a bike ride or even do some push-ups and other body weight exercises to help burn calories.
I hope that you find the tips above useful in taking charge of your health though stressful times. Remember there are many things that are not in our control in life, but we are still in control of our choices and actions. So get back on your healthy routine – summer is here!