The past year was stressful.
The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted our lives so significantly, stress levels skyrocketed. And when stress levels go through the roof, our eating habits change and usually not for the better.
Why people eat more when isolated?
Many of us resorted to baking bread, muffins, cookies, and cakes – feel-good foods when stressed out from a pandemic. Unfortunately, eating homemade goodies full of sugary carbs and when gyms were shut down, was a recipe made for weight gain. In fact, a Harris Poll, conducted with the American Psychological Association found that 42 percent of participants had gained an average of 29 “pandemic pounds” during the coronavirus fiasco.
The problem with weight gain is the propensity to lead to chronic health conditions. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, are just a few examples that putting on pounds can lead to.
If there’s one glaring lesson we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that coronavirus has been a wake-up call for personal health. Too many Americans suffer from at least one or more chronic diseases when it doesn’t have to be that way. The majority of people who succumbed to the virus had at least one chronic disease usually accompanied by excess weight. If you’re ready to make dietary and exercise changes, then you’re ready to start reaching a healthier body weight reducing your risk of an unhealthy life. Here are the steps you need to know:
- Keep fruit, veggies, nuts, beans, and whole grains plentiful in your home.
- Remove or stop buying ultra-processed foods – boxed TV dinners, cookies, chips, pretzels, sugary cereals, candy, soda, and other sugary beverages.
- Ninety percent of your food choices should be whole foods meaning what you would find in nature. Limit intake of processed foods.
- Eat meals at your kitchen table and not in front of the TV. Listening to music is fine but otherwise allow no electronic devices when eating including watching TV. These devices are distracting leading to mindless eating leading to eating more calories than you need.
- Invest in at least one or more healthy cookbooks. Chew gum while cooking discouraging temptations to snack.
- Portion size matters. Putting food on a plate instead of eating from a package curbs how much you end up eating.
- Eat three meals a day at regular, consistent times to prevent hunger. Skipping or delaying meals or ignoring hunger signals only causes overeating or choosing unhealthy foods.
- Choose water as your main beverage source. Avoid sugary beverages which are the main contributor to excess calories.
- To have better control over what you eat, pack your lunch and snacks for work.