You’ve heard of the “freshman 15,” right? Well, think of this as the “COVID-quarantine 15.” But rest assured, says dietitian Bethany Watkins, as easily as those pounds came on, you can get back to pre-pandemic weight by implementing a few healthy habits into your daily routine.
As many offices open back up, some of us are just now physically feeling the alternate effects of COVID. With forgiving comfortable clothes being put away, and workwear being brought out, we’re quickly realizing that the stress of COVID not only impacted our mental health but also impacted our waistline. First of all, know you’re not alone. Millions of other Americans are looking for a way to get their weight back to “pre- quarantine 15.”
But before you start subscribing to an expensive, unsustainable 2022 fad diet or weight loss treatment, know that there are several healthy habits you can easily implement to help nourish your body properly and to get you the weight change results you desire.
Below are my suggestions to help you shift your mindset towards healthier eating behaviors and habits.
- Choose a healthy method of daily tracking to increase your awareness of healthy (and maybe not-so-healthy) eating behaviors and habits. Examples include tracking hydration, fiber intake, vegetable servings, snack consumption and/or timing, meal timing and whole-food vs. processed food consumption. You don’t have to log every detail, but just by choosing one thing to track you’ll increase your awareness of what simple steps you can take to change a not-so-healthy behavior.
- Think about hunger vs. boredom when eating throughout the day.
- Plan your healthy snacks for the week ahead of time and only have those options available (protein + carbohydrate paired together as a snack).
- Drink water routinely (or seltzers, sugar-free electrolyte beverages are other healthy examples).
- Eat in a place, and at a time, that you are undistracted (do not consume food in front of a computer at work or TV at home).
- Avoid skipping meals, dieting or restricting yourself of calories. Those types of behaviors will only lead to binges and the development of unhealthy eating behaviors. If you’d like a cookie just “Eat The Damn Cookie,” enjoy it and move on.
- Choose a stress management technique that you can easily participate in regularly that does not involve food as the coping mechanism. Contact a mental health professional to connect with a type of support you won’t get at work or home if needed.
- Think about some old hobbies that you used to have that brought you joy and consider adding some of those back into your life to have the same benefits return.
- Don’t forget about physical activity, movement, or exercise; anything is better than nothing. Your heart, lungs, and blood need the cardiovascular benefits of being used, and your muscles need strength training to maintain proper function.
- Contact a registered dietitian to get a nutrition program that is tailored to fit your medical needs, lifestyle and behaviors.