Registered Dietician at Dragonfly Nutrition Kimberly Suraj advises that now is not the time to start being irresponsible by practising unhealthy eating habits and turning to comfort foods such as chips, chocolates, soft drinks and snacks/foods high in fat and added sugars.
Here are Suraj’s tips to stop overeating and therefore avoid weight gain during self-quarantine:
A new reality of being at home during the coronavirus crisis would cause some of us to be unsettled and confused. Some of us may sleep late, binge-watch Netflix, and lounge around in our pajamas, disrupting our regular eating patterns, and leading us to mindlessly snack more.
Maintaining structure is very important. Try to set and stick to a routine, set a time for breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner.
Planning meals is also important when maintaining structure. If you plan ahead what you will be eating daily, chances to overeat, miss meals or eat snacks all day are low.
Many of us are stocking our pantries or cupboards with non-perishable items to avoid going to the groceries frequently.
Purchasing canned products is an option but they usually have a high sodium content. Therefore, look for low sodium canned products or more frozen non-perishable food items such as frozen vegetables, peas and fruits. Some vegetables and provisions can be peeled, cut and frozen such as sweet potatoes and green fig.
Limit buying highly processed snacks high in sugars and fat such as cookies and chips. If you limit buying them, then it would not be frequently used.
You can pack in some high fibre foods to help curb your hunger. Eating a diet rich in fibre, makes us feel fuller and therefore helps us avoid overeating or mindless snacking.
Having fibre in your diet also helps with digestion and constipation. It is important to get fibre from a variety of sources— whole grains, peas, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds to provide you with a healthy balanced diet.
Men should aim for 38 grams fibre per day and women 25 grams per day. Be sure to increase your fluid intake. Increasing your fibre intake in your diet helps with bowel movements.
Choose to drink more water over any other drinks to decrease calorie and sugar intake. Drink at least 1 litre of water a day to stay hydrated and keep your body systems functioning. Avoid fruit juices, sugary drinks, soft drinks and even alcohol, as these can easily pack on the unwanted pounds.
When you reach for something to eat, ask yourself ‘Has it been three hours since I last ate?’ or ‘Why am I reaching for this? Am I dehydrated? Am I bored?’ or ‘Am I eating because I feel stressed?’’. Call or message a loved one to talk about your feelings if you have to, in order to curb emotional eating.
Place a serving of snacks in individual ziplock bags or small containers to prevent overeating. Do not sit down with an entire can of chips or crackers.
While trying to purchase healthier foods at the grocery is important, what is also important is how we prepare them. Try to limit frying foods and desserts to decrease unhealthy fats in our diets and thereby decreasing our body fat. Try to practise healthier cooking methods such as baking, grilling, barbequing, “fake” frying (breading the meat and baking), currying, stewing (without too much oil), and steaming. Bake plantains and fries, instead of frying. Try to limit making pastries since they contain hidden fats which can lead to weight gain and high cholesterol. Therefore, try to look for healthier recipes that entail using healthier cooking methods and ingredients.
Calories in versus calories out, helps with maintaining weight or losing/ gaining weight, therefore, being active should be scheduled on a daily basis. Walk up and down a stairs, use a workout video on YouTube, do an online workout, play with the kids in the yard, do some gardening. These are all ways we can try to get our bodies moving.
It is important to self-monitor ourselves in order to practise prevention rather than treatment afterwards.
Once a week or once every two weeks, bring out the bathroom scale and weigh yourself, keep a track of your weight weekly or biweekly. That is the only way you will be aware. Prevention of obesity and chronic diseases is better than finding a cure. You can also use a food journal, to track the time of the day it is, what food you are having and the amount, keeping yourself accountable.
While stress, anxiety and boredom may tempt us to emotional eat or stress eat, this is a time we can take the opportunity to eat better and develop healthier habits.
It is a great opportunity to try different foods, trying out new and different healthy recipes, and practising our cooking skills. We also complain that we are too busy and too tired to eat better, lose weight and take care of our health. Why not just try to take advantage of it right now?