Hey Angels and Alphas,
We know that self-isolation has been widely suggested to protect us against the ongoing pandemic, but we know that being stuck at home and having our routines shifted around can lead to many unhealthy behaviors, including overeating due to boredom and stress.
And while taking comfort in our favorite food is a normal reaction when we’re feeling stressed, overeating continuously can negatively impact our mood, our health, and our anxiety levels.
Today, we’re looking at 8 ways we can stay on track with our fitness goals by preventing comfort eating while we’re stuck at home. Let’s get right into it.
*Disclaimer. It’s important we’re clear right off the bat – stress eating and disordered eating are two completely different things. If you feel like you have a disordered eating tendency, these tips shouldn’t be relevant to you. For information about eating disorders, consult a doctor or physician so they can correctly address your needs. That being said, let’s get started.
1. We have to start by removing temptations.
Even though having a bowl of your favorite colorful candy or a cookie jar on your counter, this can easily lead to unaccounted calories and therefore overeating.
Having tempting foods at arm’s reach almost always leads to frequent snacking and overeating because when we’re working at home or just going about our day, we tend to get distracted and reach for our favorite snacks even when we aren’t hungry.
There’s actually research out there that suggests that visual exposure to high-calorie foods creates stimulus in your striatum, the part of your brain responsible for modulating impulse control. This, in turn, leads to cravings and overeating.
So if you do keep a snack shelf at home, make sure it’s out of your sight so you can reach for a snack when you actually need one. There’s nothing bad about snacking, but overindulging too often can and will harm both your physical and your emotional health.
2. We also need a healthy meal schedule.
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you should change your normal eating schedule. If you’re used to a schedule of three meals a day, just keep doing that even if you’re working from home.
When your day-to-day schedule gets disrupted, it’s easy to stray from your normal dietary patterns. That’s why it’s important for us to make an effort to continue our regular eating patterns and be mindful of our needs and preferred eating times.
If you’re really thrown off, and you find yourself reaching for snacks too often, make sure your schedule has at least two solid meals a day and base your snacks around that so you can reach a comfortable consistency with your eating habits.
3. Remember not to restrict!
One of the best nutritional rules anyone can follow to prevent overeating is to not deprive themselves of foods they love. More often than not, being overly restrictive with your food intake will backfire on you with cravings for high-carb, high-calorie foods, naturally creating an easy path to overeating.
It’s never a good idea to follow an overly restrictive diet. It’s never a good idea to deprive yourself of food, even more so when you’re stressed.
Research has shown this – restrictive diets are not only ineffective and unsustainable in the long-term, but they also have adverse effects on physical and mental health, skyrocketing your stress levels even more.
4. Staying hydrated.
Drinking enough fluids somehow always makes it into lists on how to stay healthy and prevent overeating, and for good reason. Not only is maintaining proper hydration vital for your overall health, but science tells us it can help prevent overeating related to anxiety and stress.
Research has found a direct link between a higher risk of obesity and chronic dehydration. Dehydration also alters your mood, focus, and energy levels, which can either work for or against your eating habits.
If you have difficulty drinking more water than you feel like you need, add a few slices of fruit to your water so you can give it flavor. This will help you stay hydrated throughout your day without adding any significant amount of calories to your diet.
5. Staying active!
Perhaps the biggest problem with being stuck at home is that our activity levels plummet, leading us to boredom, stress, and increased risk of unnecessary snacking. That’s why it’s important that we always make time for physical activity, even when we’re stuck at home.
If you’re feeling bad about the fact that gyms and workout studios are closed, you have to make an effort to do home workouts, take hikes, jog and take walks, and just do anything you can to maintain your activity levels.
It’s no secret that physical activity helps us improve our mood and alleviate stress, instantly reducing your chances of stress eating.
6. Practice portion control.
Do you realize how much overeating happens just because people eat snacks directly from the containers in which they come in?
For example, a bowl of ice cream is more than enough to satisfy all your cravings, but if you’re eating directly from the container instead of taking out a single portion, nine times out of ten, you will end up reaching for another spoon. And another spoon. And another spoon.
To prevent this, always make sure you single out your servings in portions of food instead of eating out of large containers.
7. Make your meals count!
Fill up your shelves with filling, nutrient-dense, low-energy-density foods, and you’ll see a massive change in your overall health – that’s a promise. Not only will you reduce the tendency to stress eat and munch on highly palatable foods, but you’ll also be making smart choices that actually nourish your body and fill you up in a healthy way.
Filling foods are foods usually high in healthy fats, fiber, and protein. These include seeds, nuts, fruits and veggies, beans, eggs, and more. They’re both satiating and satisfying, helping you prevent the casual munch on chocolatey snacks.
8. Prevent boredom!
If you find yourself with a lot of extra time on your hands, boredom is a guarantee. It will quickly set in once you’ve tackled everything on your to-do list that day.
However, if you want to prevent boredom and make sure it’s not a reason for sacrificing your health, find ways to make good use of your spare time. New hobbies, physical activity, interesting projects, these are all options you can use to fill up your otherwise busy schedule.
This is the perfect time to be learning new skills, focusing on home improvement, organizing your life, taking an educational course, or start a new business endeavor.
Learning new things or starting new projects doesn’t just prevent boredom, but also helps you feel more productive and release the stress that comes with being stuck at home.
Bringing it all together…
Due to the current circumstances, you might be finding yourself stuck at home, feeling stress and bored all the time, and making poor decisions that lead to overeating and weight gain.
And while indulging in stress foods is a part of our nature, we can’t let it turn into a habit and take a toll on our physical and mental health.
With these tips, you’ll be able to control the stress and anxieties you feel that are the root causes of overeating and overindulging. Follow them and keep a checklist nearby, and I guarantee you, you will walk out of this situation a better, healthier, happier you.