One of the important ways to “flatten the curve” and keep the coronavirus pandemic under control is by working at home. Working at home has problems, however. Being outside your usual work schedule, having 24/7 access to food and constantly being stressed out can lead to overindulging. The last things you want to experience especially in the middle of a global health crisis that forces you to stay at home are unwanted weight gain and health issues. With these in mind, here are some nutritionist-recommended tips to help you stop yourself from overeating:
Develop Set Meal Schedules
A consistent eating routine does not just prevent mindless eating, it also regulates blood sugar and insulin levels, hunger hormones, mental and physical energy, digestive health and sleeping cycle. Try eating breakfast within an hour of waking up, and aim for three meals (or three meals and one snack) per day, spaced about 4 or 5 hours apart.
A lack of a set meal schedule is bound to make you eat mindlessly throughout the day, or wait too long and then rebound overeat.
Make Sure Meals Are Nutritionally-Balanced
Instead of grabbing food randomly, think strategically about what to add to your meals. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner, include some fresh produce, lean protein and healthy fat as your foundation. These are packed with nutrients needed to keep your metabolism and immunity up and running.
To fuel your physical and mental health, you can add a smaller portion of healthful carbs to your meals. For example, you can opt for a smoothie made from a few greens, plant protein powder, nut butter and frozen fruit instead of cereals and juice.
What is important is that you should be purposeful about what you include in each meal, creating a better macronutrient and micronutrient intake that helps prevent weight gain.
Rethink Your Drinks
Keep a water bottle or cup next to you, and sip on it throughout the day. Avoid sugary drinks or products made with artificial sweeteners.
If you drink alcohol, stick to one or two drinks a day, and reduce your need of alcohol through other coping mechanisms, such as calling friends and family, doing at-home workouts and enjoying other healthy mini-escapes.
Be mindful of alcohol’s calorie content. Keep in mind that being tipsy can increase appetite and lower inhibitions, leading to overeating and consuming food that you would not normally eat when sober.
Differentiate Between Physical And Emotional Hunger
Stressful times cause you to have difficulty telling if you are truly hungry, needing food for nourishment or if your mind is attracted to food as a way of expressing or disconnecting from your feelings. One helpful way to start is by tuning in to your body. Physical hunger has physical symptoms such as a slightly growling tummy.
If your stomach is full after eating a balanced meal, yet you still feel hunger, then you may be experiencing anxiety or loneliness. If you can stop and make a distinction between physical and emotional hunger, you can address your emotions in ways that do not involve food. When you do eat, do so without anything in the way (no TV, phone, computer), put down the food or utensil between bites and listen to your body’s cues. Stop when you feel full, but not totally full, and save the rest for the next meal.
Just because you have to practice set meal times does not mean you have to completely swear off your favorite goodies. Enjoy them, but indulge mindfully, rather than spontaneously. For example, if you want a treat or two after a meal, reduce a portion of carbs in that meal to make room for the carbs in the treats.
The key is to practice balance and consistency in eating because an all-or-nothing approach will only leave you wanting for more.