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To say that we are living through an incredibly stressful time is to put it mildly. These are really uncharted territories and there is no perfect way to navigate through them. The kind of stress we have experienced in 2020 is for the most part unprecedented in our lifetimes. It’s exacerbated by isolation, being cut off from family and friends and our daily routines, as well as ongoing uncertainty. So in short, understandable and kind of tough to manage. And while we’re all doing our best, it makes sense that some coping mechanisms are going to start to pop up – eating just happens to be one of them.
Let’s face it, eating just feels good. It’s satisfying, comforting, kills some time and fills that empty void, literally. And most of us have overstuffed refrigerators and pantries right now, and have probably bought food and especially snack items that we might not otherwise, purely out a desire for some comfort and something that feels good in the midst of all this craziness.
But if you’re getting a little tired of reaching for the Doritos, feeling bloated and watching your waistline expand try these tips to break the cycle and get back into a healthier routine and flow.
1. Find A Little Inspiration
Food is easy. It tastes good, feels good and it’s just right there. One of the keys to stop reaching for the cookies is to have another plan. What would you really like to be doing with your time right now? What are some of those things that you’ve been meaning to get around to but have put off because you just never seem to have the time? Well now’s the time to do them. Write, paint, do those little home improvements, start your Etsy store and make a little extra cash. Anything to feel inspired! If you’re really engaged in something fun you won’t even want to get up for food.
2. Tune Into Your Triggers
Awareness is everything. Get off autopilot and start paying attention to when you want to reach for food and what exactly you’re inclined to reach for. Is it really hunger or are you craving something specific like carbs, salt or sweetness? Are you bored and looking for stimulation? Have you been scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest and been bombarded by super delicious looking food pics? Is it a response to anxiety? Or did you just finish dealing with emails are are now looking for a break? Try not to judge, just observe. Once you know what’s going on you can choose what to do about it.
3. Tone Up and Try Something New
How about using this time to jump on some online fitness videos and get into shape or try something you’ve meaning to for a while like HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Yoga or Pilates but just haven’t gotten around to. Peleton is offering 90 Days FREE right now, a bump from their normal 30, and some of the classes are actually LIVE! Schedule time with a friend and meet virtually. A lot of the classes are 20-30 minutes so you could even do a couple a day just to keep your body moving.
There are also hundreds of exercise, fitness and yoga videos on Instagram. Check out people’s IGTV for some pretty amazing, and free offerings.
4. Make It Easy To Get Going
Maybe you thought about doing that online yoga class, but your mat is upstairs, and well… the food is right here. If exercise is one of the things on your list, get set up. Sign-up for an account if you need to, pick a device, cue up the videos and set up your workout space or decide on a location if it’s going to be outside. Same goes if you are going to paint or do other crafts, or maybe start writing that screenplay or novel. Set up a workspace for yourself and get all of the supplies together. This alone makes it much easier to just walk over and get started.
5. Make The Junk Food a Little Harder To Get At
Okay, this is my personal trick, whenever I buy snack foods like cookies, popcorn, chips etc., they go on the very top shelf of the cupboard. Yes, the one that I need a step ladder to get to. It reminds me when I do want them to think twice about this and not just grab them mindlessly. And sometimes, not all the time, getting that step ladder out, getting the snack down, putting the step ladder back, and then repeating the process in reverse when I’m done, is just enough of a deterrent to prompt me to find something else to nibble on or something else to do.
6. Have a High Protein Snack Around 3 p.m.
This is a tip I picked up from a nutritionist friend of mine. Around 3 pm is when your blood sugar, and consequently energy level, really tends to drop. Prep a healthy, yummy high-protein snack for this time of day and even set an alert to remind you when it’s time to go grab it. Try something low glycemic to avoid dramatic energy swings such as an apple + almond butter or hummus + veggies
7. Plan Your Meals and Create a Routine
Decide on a meal plan and get really specific based on your schedule and healthy food choices rather than waiting until you’re famished and reach for a sugary or high-carb snack. One of my personal hacks is I set a reminder on my phone 30 minutes before to start prepping food. Also decide at least the night before what you’re going to eat the following day. When you take the on-the-spot decision making out of it, you’re not mindlessly wandering into the kitchen and standing in front of the fridge just eating random things all day. The routine has the added benefit of letting you know when it is NOT time to eat.
Your ideal meal time really depends on you, your schedule and how much you want to eat. If you are doing three meals a day plus a snack, decide exactly what you are going to eat each one of those times. For snacks make sure you potion them out and eat from a bowl or a plate, not out of the container or bag. Also, chill on the multi-tasking while eating. I know it’s tempting but you are less likely to overeat if you eat mindfully and enjoy every bite.
For more on mindful eating read ……
8. Don’t Work From the Kitchen!
If you’re working from home right now, and will be doing more of that in the coming months, try to find someplace else in your home to work from so you are not staring at the fridge all day long and within arm’s reach of the cookie jar. Get your desk or workspace as far away from the kitchen as possible – even on another floor. I will make you think twice about the trip and at least you’ll get in a little more movement and burn off a few more calories when you do go.
We often confuse thirst for hunger. Clinical studies have shown that 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst because thirst signals can be weak. Start taking note of how much water you’re drinking a day and make sure you get it at regular intervals.
Signs of thirst and moderate dehydration can include:
- Feeling sluggish
- Increased heart rate
- Dry skin
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to reach for the H20. Staying hydrated throughout the day helps with digestion, curbs cravings and keeps you feeling awake and alert.
Information or materials posted on this blog are intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment. Any information posted on this blog is not a substitute for patient specific medical information or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare team or dietitian for a more complete dietary plan and recommendations.