Life has changed quite dramatically for us and it will stay this way for the next foreseeable future. Life used to be busy, go-go-go, filled with travel, work, after-work socializing, and weekend out-of-the-house fun, meeting up with friends, and celebrating time and life’s moments together. That life had its own challenges as it relates to food. Now we are working from home, not seeing our friends and family in person, hardly leaving the house, and can’t go to the gym. There are no parties, celebrations, or weekend hangouts. This isn’t our normal usual “party” life. This is our new current reality: social distancing.
You would think social distancing would make us eat healthier by keeping us away from most restaurants and fast food places, but I’ve noticed this has also thrown our eating habits for a curve ball too. There are the top weight loss pitfalls I’ve been seeing right now and how to combat them:
Problem: Grazing eating patterns. It’s a problem because we never really feel full and satisfied. We don’t realize how much we actually are eating, and half the time when we are eating we don’t even taste it. It leads to an increased calorie intake throughout the course of the day which leads to weight gain.
Solution: Set times that the kitchen is “open” and “closed.” Meal times are generally spaced 4-6 hours apart. Give yourself a 30 minute window before the meal to prep food, 30-45 minutes to enjoy your meal, and 30 minutes for clean-up. After that 1 ½ hour time span passes, the kitchen is closed for another 4-6 hours. When the kitchen is closed, all the cabinets are closed, fridge is closed, pantry is closed.
Problem: Losing your sense of routine. A routine helps us eat structured, well balanced meals.
Solution: Write down your schedule for the day that is to be followed for the entire week. Ask yourself “What time is: wake up, bedtime, breakfast, lunch, dinner? What time is: workout, wind-down, and virtual social time?” If your routine normally involves going to the gym right after work, do a home workout right after you are done with your work-from-home job for the day. If your week normally includes after work meet ups with friends, make it a point to schedule virtual hangouts with them. Keep your routine as similar as you can within what is available to you right now.
Problem: Relying heavily on boxed on canned shelf-stable foods. This can be an issue because highly processed foods (ie. canned tomato sauce, macaroni and cheese, boxed pasta kits etc) are often high in sodium and added sugar.
Solution: Let me clarify. Not all shelf-stable foods are bad for you. The issue comes when the foods we are selecting are higher in sodium and higher in fats and added sugars. Foods that are high in sodium (more than 300 mg sodium per serving) can lead to high blood pressure. Foods that are high in fat and added sugars are calorie-dense foods that provide more calories than they do nourishment and fullness factor.
It’s okay to choose shelf-stable foods that are lower sodium, lower fat, and overall healthy ingredients. Try some of these pantry staples: canned tuna/ salmon/ chicken in water, canned tomatoes, whole wheat pasta, plain oatmeal, brown rice, dried chickpeas/ garbanzo beans, dried black eyed peas, dried lentils or any other dried legume.
Problem: The gym isn’t open so workouts aren’t happening. This is a problem not only because lack of physical activity contributes to weight gain and other obesity-related co-morbid conditions, but also because the lack of exercise negatively impacts your emotional well-being.
Solution: If you have a tablet, smart phone, or any screen that has access to internet connection, you have access to in-home workouts. There’s a growing list of resources because gyms and fitness centers want to continue serving you, so they’re putting out great free home workouts. Bonus! Subscription workout platforms are having awesome introductory deals right now (Beachbody On Demand, Daily Burn). These some of my personal favorite free online workouts:
Please let me know if there is anything else you've been struggling with nutrition wise during social distancing. I am more than happy to help you live your best life, no matter what life is throwing our way.
Cheers to health,
Andrea Dietz, MS, RD, CD
The Party RD