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COVID-19: Tips to Avoid Weight Gain While Staying at Home

April 16, 2020

Have you found yourself bingeing on more than your favorite Netflix shows recently? For those following stay-at-home mandates due to COVID-19, it’s difficult to avoid snacking and overeating. If you’ve noticed that your sweatpants are fitting a little tighter than they were before the arrival of COVID-19, consider re-focusing your attention on staying healthy. 

Establish a New Daily Routine

The loss of a routine can have devastating effects on dietary goals — but only if you let it. While it may no longer be possible to structure your day around a fitness class or trip to the farmer’s market, a schedule can help you stay on track. Try these tips: 

  • Set your morning alarm. Even though you might not need to rush off to work anymore, getting up at the same time will help you start each day off right. 

  • Re-adopt your structured mealtimes. While stuck at home, perhaps your standard “three meals a day” routine has fractured into “eating all day long.” For the sake of weight control, it’s time to get back to consuming a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Plan menus for the week. Throwing together meals when you’re bored or hungry can lead to unhealthy choices. To prevent overindulgence, create a weekly menu by picking out nutritious recipes ahead of time.

Combat Constant Snacking 

Having trouble staying out of the kitchen? Don’t feel guilty or ashamed. Instead, focus on making a positive change. Here’s how to get started: 

  • Only eat when you’re hungry. Distracted eating can lead to overeating. Before digging in, first ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” More often than not, the answer will be “no.”

  • Consider whether you’re just bored or thirsty. With gyms and parks closed across the country, it’s no wonder people are filling their free time with potato chips instead of push-ups. Avoid this habit by drinking water, tea or doing an exercise video instead!

  • Set strict rules for snacking. With all this free time, it’s not easy to step away from the fridge or pantry. Follow these basic but helpful rules: 

    • Have plenty of healthy snacks readily available.

    • Portion out snacks in small containers. 

    • Keep fresh fruit in easy-to-see places.

    • Hide or throw away sugary or other unhealthy snacks

    • Have a set location for eating, such as the kitchen table.  

Evaluate Your Mood

If you’ve found comfort in junk food or overeating lately, perhaps there’s an underlying reason. Anxiety, fear, isolation and depression are all normal feelings to experience during a pandemic. Does this sound like you? If so, consider these tips: 

  • Journal your feelings (and your food). If your mood is affecting your dietary habits, start keeping a daily journal entry. Not only can you identify and release some of your anxieties through writing, you also can track when and what you’re eating.

  • Find balance. Achieving balance comes from more than just having a serving of fruits or vegetables with each meal. You should also seek out activities that lift and stabilize your mood, such as yoga, meditation, reading, painting or listening to quiet music. 

  • Partake in self-talk. For those struggling with stress or loneliness, speaking out-loud can help alleviate cravings and prevent poor dietary choices. Don’t be afraid to engage yourself in kind conversation!

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