Are you or your teen falling victim to the QUARANTINE 15?
May 01, 2020
Has your family been eating more than you normally do, or eating less healthy foods during quarantine? If you are, you are not alone. The sale of snacks, alcohol and the demand for processed “comfort” foods, like mac and cheese, have increased significantly since March.
Why is this happening?
- Emotional eating. This is when we use food to numb our uncomfortable feelings in an effort to feel better. We are experiencing something we have never experienced before and for many, there is an increase in some challenging emotions such as:
Less structured days. Work and school help us structure our days, so we only eat at certain times. With so many people home and/or not working, the structure is no longer present, and it is very easy to just walk to the kitchen and pantry and grab something without even thinking about it.
- More access to food throughout the day. This is like the point above. Food is just a short walk away throughout the entire day and because it is so accessible, it becomes easy to grab something without considering if you are even hungry.
The good news is that you can make a change if you wish to. You may have to “undo” some recent eating habits that you or your family have adopted, however, since they have not been in place for too long, you will be able to do so without too much difficulty. Every day you do something, it becomes more ingrained as a habit so consider what kinds of habits you want to have.
Below are some tips to get you back on track with healthy eating during quarantine:
- Be mindful. Before you grab for something, notice if you are really hungry or if you are bored, anxious or stressed out. If you are struggling with lots of difficult emotions, learn to manage your mind. Mindfulness meditation is a great was to do this. You can check out a free resource on my website (Karen Vincent Solutions) or go to YouTube for many free resources.
- Drink water. If you do determine you are hungry, try drinking a full glass of water before grabbing for food. Often, when we feel hungry, we are actually thirsty. Drinking water throughout the day will help curb hunger, in addition to helping you feel better in general.
- Ask yourself how you will feel after you eat whatever you are wanting to eat. How often do you eat something and then regret it (hello, bag of chips!)? Visualizing how you will feel after eating something unhealthy or after overeating, often helps in making healthier decisions.
- Don’t over-shop. During the first couple weeks of quarantine, many people shopped like the world was going to run out of food and then still ate all of what they bought during the first week or two. If having lots of snacks on hand is going to temp you (or your family) to snack more than you should, don’t have them in the house.
- Prepare healthy snacks. Prepare healthy snacks that you enjoy ahead of time and make them easy to access. Often, we grab for the bag of chips or box of cookies because it is easy (ok…and they taste good!). Try to have healthier snacks you enjoy as easily accessible as the unhealthy, prepackaged snacks.
- Create more structure. I know I do better with everything when I have some sort of schedule and structure to my day. Try to focus on having 3, healthy meals each day. If you fill up during scheduled meals, you will be less likely to snack in between. You will also be less likely to call chips and dip “dinner”!
- Slow down when you are eating. Most of us have time right now to slow down and enjoy a meal. When we eat too fast, our brains don’t have time to catch up with our stomachs. When you slow down, you are more likely to get the signal from your brain that you are full, before you overeat.
- Practice portion control. If you are snacking, don’t eat right out of the bag, the box or the ice cream container. Instead, use a smaller cup or bowl and serve a one-person portion. When eating meals, try using a smaller plate or fill up your plate one time and then skip the second helping.
- Write out your food plan for the week and review daily. Have a plan as you go into each day and make ever effort to stick to it.
- Stay on track 80% - 90% of the time. These are challenging times so you may want to have a special treat a couple of times during the week. This is not going to cause you to gain massive amounts of weight if you stick with your plan 80% - 90% of the time.
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol is empty calories and can result in significant weight gain. In addition to gaining weight from the alcohol itself, often, people will make poor food decisions when drinking.
If you have gained weight or notice that you are just not feeling well, take a good look at what your eating (and drinking) patterns are during quarantine. If you don’t like where things are now, you have 100% control to make a change starting today. Don’t tell yourself you will wait until this is “over” because we don’t know when this will be “over”, or even what that will look like. Things will not go back to the way they were for a very long time, if ever. You have control over your eating habits, which is powerful, during a time when you cannot control so many other things.
How do you want to look and feel at the end of this? Get really clear about that and consider it each morning. Then, when you go to eat something, ask yourself, “will this get me to how I want to look and feel at the end of this?”.
We are all figuring out how to make this work. You’ve got this!
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