So, what are you doing during quarantine? Perhaps, lazing around, mindlessly munching on the snacks that you’ve stocked up in the pantry and worrying about ‘Quarantine 15’, right?
Well, you’re not alone! Being locked at home all day with nothing much to do, no wonder people are turning to comfort foods to cope with stress, boredom, and loneliness. While indulging in feel-good foods like cookies and ice-cream may provide a temporary mood boost, comfort eating often leads to overeating and can result in weight gain and a host of chronic health issues in the long run.
It is more important now than ever to maintain a healthy relationship with food and lead a better lifestyle. This will not just avoid unintentional weight gain but also strengthen your immune system and promote overall well-being.
Healthy eating during quarantine doesn’t have to be hard. Here are a few, simple tips to avoid overeating and adopt better eating habits.
PLAN AND PREP YOUR MEALS AND SNACKS
Unplanned meals and snacks tend to be high in calories, less nutritious, and are often a recipe for overeating. Therefore, it’s best to plan and prep your meals in advance, to prevent overindulging and make healthier choices.
Meal planning and prepping are a great way to ensure that you consume a nutritious and well-balanced diet. This will also help manage weight, control food portions, and curb the temptation to gorge on junk food.
Plan your meals and snacks for the week ahead. Choose a bunch of healthy recipes. Stock your pantry with fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and canned foods.
Prep healthy snacks ahead of time. Energy balls, oatmeal cookies, dark-chocolate coated nuts, roasted chickpeas, and fruit salad are some guilt-free, delicious, and nutritious snack ideas you can enjoy.
EAT HIGH-PROTEIN AND FIBRE-RICH FOODS
Lack of protein and fiber in your diet can contribute to excessive eating and increase the risk of weight gain and obesity.
So, make sure to incorporate foods like salmon, eggs, chicken, wholegrain foods, chickpeas, quinoa, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables to your daily diet. They are excellent sources of high-quality protein and dietary fiber.
High-protein and fiber-rich foods tend to be more satiating, help keep you full for longer, and reduce cravings.
Protein-packed foods can help lower your calorie intake and suppress appetite by reducing the levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Protein also plays a part in the proper functioning of the immune system. It helps fight bacterial and viral infections.
Feeling hungry all the time? Dehydration could be the real culprit. Thirst often disguises as hunger in our bodies. You may end up snacking mindlessly when all you needed was a glass of water. So, when you get the hunger pangs next time, just sip on water to stay hydrated.
Drinking adequate water is one of the healthy habits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Proper hydration is vital for overall well-being.
Water is also a calorie-free drink. Swapping high-calorie, sugary drinks for water can reduce your calorie intake. Drinking water before meals helps fill you up, suppresses hunger, and curbs overeating.
Sipping water throughout the day also helps reduce cravings, boosts metabolism and can help you lose weight too.
There are no specific recommendations for daily water intake, so make sure to drink more water whenever you are thirsty. Always drink a glass of water before going to bed and right after waking up in the morning. You can also add some flavor to jazz up your water using fresh fruits.
KEEP BOREDOM AT BAY
When you are cooped up at home all day, boredom can easily creep in and trigger snacking and overeating. Do you find yourself heading to the kitchen to nosh when you are bored? Well, you might want to give it a second thought.
Boredom causes junk food cravings and often leads to unhealthy eating. This can have negative impacts on your weight and overall health. Moreover, stuffing your face with chocolates and chips, when you are bored, may also lead to feelings of regret and guilt afterward.
Instead, try to keep yourself busy by finding a new hobby, learning a new skill, or taking an online course. This way you can stave off boredom and make your day more productive.
You can also enjoy your favorite movies, podcasts, and books, try out DIY projects or even go for a walk when boredom strikes.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Did you know that sleep deprivation and overeating go hand in hand? Yes, lack of sleep can lead to bingeing on less-nutritious foods that are high in calories, sugar, and fat and can contribute to weight gain. Wondering how?
Poor sleep leads to a rise in the levels of ghrelin, the hormone which stimulates appetite and a drop in the levels of leptin, the hormone which decreases appetite. Inadequate sleep can also induce stress, the common factor that causes people to overeat.
Moreover, it disrupts metabolism leading to weight gain. To avoid feeling famished, aim to sleep for at least seven hours every day. Make sure that you go to bed and wake up at the same time daily. Avoid drinking coffee 4-6 hours before sleeping. Refrain from using electronic gadgets before going to bed as they can disrupt sleep.
DITCH THE JUNK FOOD
Can’t keep your hands off the cookie jar and the bag of chips lying in the pantry? Just get ‘em outta there! Junk foods are tempting and having a stockpile of them at home can prompt overeating and is a surefire way to gain weight.
It’s best to toss out the high-sugar, fried and packaged foods and turn your kitchen into a junk-free space. When you don’t have them at home, you are less likely to binge on them.
If you want to avoid temptations and prevent overindulgence, stop buying them in the first place.
Instead, stock up on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains and keep them in easily seen and easily reachable places like the fridge and the pantry. This way you can enjoy munching on healthy foods.
Practice MINDFUL EATING
When you eat while sitting in front of the TV or scrolling through your phone, you are more likely to scarf down your meals without noticing. This is known as ‘distracted eating’ and may cause weight gain.
To prevent overeating, it is essential to adopt mindful eating techniques. Wondering what mindful eating is? It is the act of eating slowly, focusing on the food, and relishing each and every bite.
Practicing mindful eating is a great way to improve your relationship with food. It also helps you feel better, control weight, and promote overall wellbeing.
To practice mindful eating, sit down and eat your meals at the dining table. Turn of all distractions. Eat slowly. Chew well. Pay attention to the smell and flavor of the food as you eat and stop eating when you are full.
KEEP A FOOD DIARY
If you are struggling with overeating or maintaining a healthy diet, try keeping a food diary. A food diary can be an effective tool to track your food intake and improve your health during the quarantine.
Keeping track of the foods you eat can help you watch your nutrient and calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight too.
Moreover, diarizing your meals and snacks daily may help form a positive relationship with food and discover unhealthy eating habits.
Wondering how to write a food journal? Jot down whatever you eat and drink, the portion sizes, mealtimes, nutritional information, and try to be specific. You can also record what you do while eating, why you eat what you eat and how you feel after consuming a meal.
You can write them down on paper or use an app on your phone. Review your food diary at the end of every week to understand your eating habits and make healthy choices.
KEEP YOUR FOOD PORTIONS UNDER CONTROL
Controlling portion sizes is the key to avoiding overeating and maintaining a healthy weight while being at home. Larger food portions lead to increased calorie intake.
Therefore, always use smaller plates and bowls for meals to keep your food portions under control. Fill your plate with more fruits and vegetables as these foods are nutritious, filling, and low in calories.
Drink a glass of water before meals. This will help fill you up and prevent eating too much. Say ‘No’ to second helpings.
Don’t eat straight from bags and containers. Serve a smaller portion of the food in a bowl and eat mindfully. This helps keep portion sizes in check, increases satiety and reduces cravings.
ENJOY DESSERTS ONCE IN A WHILE
Wait, what? Enjoy desserts?? But you are supposed to eat a healthy diet and not binge on sweets during quarantine, right?
Well, yes! But you can indulge in desserts the SMART way! Depriving yourself of the foods you love can do more harm than good. Food restriction often leads to overeating and can eventually take a toll on physical as well as mental health.
Allow yourself to indulge in homemade desserts like cheesecake, pudding or mini brownies once in a while but don’t go overboard.
Serve them in smaller portions, eat slowly and savor every little bite of the treat. This way you can satisfy your sweet tooth without overindulging and feeling guilty.
Indulging in occasional treats can help you feel good, curb cravings and prevent binge-eating. Make sure to nourish your body with plenty of nutritious foods every day. You can also swap the ingredients to make the desserts healthier.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Syedah Shifa is a health and lifestyle blogger and the creator of The Health Savvy. Her goal is to inspire people like you to make smart and healthy food and lifestyle choices. Being an avid autodidact, she’s here to share her knowledge and guide you towards better health. https://thehealthsavvy.com/