Well, it's been about 7 months since the country has been affected by the pandemic. While most of us are enjoying getting out and about, I have many friends whose companies are having them work from home. And while that may be convenient, it is also harder to stay away from the kitchen. Being at home all day can lead to some unhealthy behaviors, including overeating due to stress and boredom.
While enjoying some comfort food during times of stress is normal, the habits created at the beginning of the pandemic need to be broken. I think 80% of the population gained some weight the first 3 months of the pandemic, and maybe you're still partaking in and practicing some of the unhealthy habits you created.
Today, I want to give you my top 12 tips that will help you break those bad snacking habits and kick the cravings that may be the bain of your existence on a daily basis.
Without further ado, here are 12 ways to prevent unnecessary grazing when you’re spending more time at home.
One of the most helpful ways to prevent overeating is to understand why it’s happening in the first place. There are many reasons why you may be compelled to overeat, including being stressed out or bored.
If you find yourself eating too frequently or eating too much in one sitting, take a minute and check in with yourself. First, it’s important to determine whether you’re eating because you’re hungry and need nourishment, or whether there’s another reason.
Before you eat, pay special attention to how you’re feeling, such as stressed, bored, lonely, or anxious. Simply pausing and evaluating the situation can help you understand what compels you to overeat and may help prevent overeating in the future.
That said, combating overeating is rarely easy, and you may have to seek professional help, especially if it’s a common occurrence or you eat to the point of discomfort and experience feelings of shame or guilt afterward. These may be signs of an eating disorder that require professional help.
Though having a jar of cookies or bowl of colorful candy on the counter may add to the visual appeal of your kitchen, this practice may lead to overeating.
Having tempting foods within eyesight can lead to frequent snacking and overeating, even when you aren’t hungry. For example, if there is nutella in my pantry, i will want it. If I don't bring it in the house, I don't crave it.
Research has shown that visual exposure to high calorie foods stimulates the striatum, a part of your brain that modulates impulse control, which may lead to increased cravings and overeating. Bottom line Out of site, out of mind.
You shouldn’t change your normal eating schedule just because you’re stuck at home. If you’re used to having three meals a day, try to continue that schedule while you’re working from home. The same goes for if you typically consume only two meals and a snack.
Though it’s easy to stray from your normal dietary pattern when your day-to-day schedule gets disrupted, it’s important to maintain some semblance of normalcy when it comes to eating.
You may find yourself adapting your eating pattern to accommodate your new normal, and that’s OK. Just try to maintain a regular eating pattern based on your individual needs and your preferred eating times.
If you’re really thrown off and find yourself constantly snacking, try making a schedule that includes at least two solid meals per day and following it until you feel that you have become comfortably consistent with your eating habits.
One of the most important nutrition rules to follow to prevent overeating is to not deprive your body of food. Oftentimes, being overly restrictive with food intake or consuming too few calories can lead to binging on high calorie foods and overeating
It’s never a good idea to follow a highly restrictive diet or deprive yourself of food, especially during stressful times.
Research has shown that restrictive dieting is not only ineffective for long-term weight loss but also can harm your physical and mental health and increase your stress levels.
Better yet, try crowding out the bad and replacing it with healthier alternatives. For example, try kombucha instead of soda, eat an apple with peanut butter instead of drinking apple juice. Eat yogurt with berries instead of ice cream. You get the idea.
Plus, it's been found that people who eat home-cooked meals more than 5 times per week were 28% less likely to be overweight and 24% less likely to have excess body fat, compared with those who ate home-cooked meals less than 3 times per week
What’s more, doing some meal prep at the beginning of the week can help you be successful and you will have healthy food ready to go.
Being at home gives you more time to focus on healthy habits, including drinking enough water. Maintaining proper hydration is important for overall health and may help you prevent overeating related to stress.
Plus, being dehydrated can lead to alterations in mood, attention, and energy levels, which can also affect your eating habits
To combat dehydration, be mindful of drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces each day. If that's a challenge for you, try adding a few slices of fresh fruit to your water to boost its flavor, which may help you drink more water throughout the day without adding a significant amount of sugar or number of calories to your diet. My favorite go-to beverage is water with a little apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, and freshly grated ginger. Sooooooo refreshing!!
6. Move Your Body
One of the best ways to crush cravings is to mooooooooove your body. Working from home may be convenient, but it can take a serious toll on your activity levels, leading to boredom, stress, and increased snacking frequency. To combat this, make some time for daily physical activity.
If you’re feeling lost, try one of my do anywhere workouts on youtube. (Find me at Ruth Ungerer/Health Coach. Or, you can workout with me virtually or in person if you want the accountability and mindset coaching you need to be successful.
Of course, taking a hike in nature, or simply walking or jogging around your neighborhood are also great ways to destress and move.
Research has shown that physical activity can boost mood and reduce stress, which may reduce your chances of stress eating. Bottom line?? Find something you love and do more of it.
When you suddenly find yourself with a lot of extra free time, boredom can quickly set in once you have tackled your to-do list for the day.
However, boredom can be prevented by making good use of your spare time. Everyone has hobbies that they have always wanted to try or projects that have been put off due to busy schedules.
Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill, tackle a home improvement project, organize your living spaces, take an educational course, or start a new hobby.
Learning something new or starting a project can not only prevent boredom but also make you feel more accomplished and less stressed. Have you ever wanted to take Ball room lessons? Do it? How about Aerial Yoga, pottery or painting? Sign up! You will never know if you like it unless you try.
Modern-day life is full of distractions. From smartphones to televisions to social media, you’re surrounded by technology meant to distract you from your daily life.
Though catching up on a favorite TV show can help take your mind off of stressful events, it’s important to minimize distractions when eating a meal or snack, especially if you find yourself frequently overeating.
If you’re used to dining while parked in front of your television, smartphone, or computer, try eating in a less distracting environment. Attempt to concentrate only on your food, paying special attention to feelings of hunger and fullness.
Being more present while you eat may help prevent overeating and can help you become more aware of your eating patterns and food intake
Mindful eating is an excellent tool that can be used to bring more awareness to your eating habits.
It’s common for people to snack on foods directly from the containers in which they were sold, which may lead to overeating.
For example, grabbing a pint of ice cream from the freezer and eating directly from the container rather than doling out a single portion in a dish may cause you to eat more than you intended
To combat this, practice portion control by serving yourself a single portion of food rather than eating out of larger containers.
Stocking your kitchen with filling, nutrient-dense foods can not only help improve your overall health but also combat the tendency to stress eat highly palatable foods.
For example, filling your fridge and pantry with foods that can help fill you up in a healthful way — rather than foods rich in empty calories like candy, chips, and soda — is a smart way to prevent the chances of noshing on unhealthy choices.
Filling foods are ones that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, avocados, beans, and eggs are just some examples of nutritious, satisfying choices that can help fill you up and prevent overeating
While a glass of wine or tasty cocktail can be a relaxing way to unwind, keep in mind that alcohol lowers your inhibitions, increases appetite, and may increase the chances of overeating
Plus, drinking too much alcohol harms your health in a number of ways and can lead to dependence issues
Try to stay within the guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which suggests that alcoholic beverages be limited to one
drink per day or less for women and two or fewer drinks per day for men
12. Find fun ways to destress.
Last but not least, find fun ways to destress. Since stress is one the leading causes of mindless snacking, finding fun ways to destress daily is super important. Walking in nature, hanging out with fun friends, exercising, going shopping, making something with your hands, working in the garden, picking flowers, rearranging a room, organizing your closet or a drawer etc are all great ways to destress and decluttering your world.
Well, there ya go! 12 of my favorite tips to help you combat those cravings while you are spending more time at home.
Here’s to striving for Progress!
Helping you create a body and a life you Love!
These are just some of my favorite ways to destress that bring Joy.