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Healthy Eating during COVID (and beyond)!

CDC Food SafetyMany of us have been impacted by COVID-19 and changes in our workplace and home life. For some this has led to increased stress, decreased activity and added unwanted pounds. Let’s go back to the basics. Most of this is review but look over the list and find one new thing to try.  Successful long- term weight loss is achieved by daily choices of healthier foods/portions, exercise, stress relief, good sleep and a positive attitude. 


Weight Loss Strategies

- Set a realistic goal for yourself.  A reasonable weight loss is one to two pounds per week. Some other good goals are: add a piece of fruit to lunch, pack a lunch from leftovers at home, swap water for soda once per day, walk 10 minutes every day.

- Eat three meals per day. Scheduled meals have been associated with the highest weight loss success. 

- Avoid snacking all day long or having one large meal per day. Intermittent fasting can be achieved by not eating anything after dinner until breakfast the next morning. 

- Never skip meals; meal skipping usually leads to overeating.

- Participate in some kind of activity when cravings strike; activity often lessens hunger pangs. Exercise also decreases stress and improves sleep. If there is a time of day that is especially tempting for you to eat junk food, look for options to move/exercise. Always assess if you are truly hungry or if it is boredom, stress or you are dehydrated. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger.

- Keep food records and write down the amount of food you eat, when and where you eat and the mood you are in. Review your records for any pattern or bad habits. Being aware of what you’re actually eating is often eye opening. It can reveal hidden calories. For example, the last time I did this I realized I eat a lot of food while I’m prepping meals. If you can cut just 100 calories per day, that is 10# in one year!

- Get support from family and friends. Share successes and tips that worked for others. Exercise together.

Where?

- Only eat at a designated eating place for all meals and snacks.  Do not eat in front of the TV, while reading, multi-tasking or driving in the car. If you are now working from home, take the time for a break. Get some activity in (even if it is 10 minutes) and eat in a different space rather than in front of the computer.

- Avoid places that may give you trouble. If you are working in an area where there’s always food around, pack your own healthy snacks to supplement what is around and limit how many times you walk that way. Always take the long way to get there.

- Always have low-calorie options available.  Rearrange the refrigerator by placing the healthiest foods at eye level.  Have fruit and veggies ready to grab and eat. If working from home, don’t buy multiple kinds of junk food. Try a new fruit or veggie each week. If it is not mealtime but you are craving something to eat, add a quick walk or stretch break in. Then decide if you really still need a snack.


When?

- Eat and chew slowly.  Lay your eating utensils down after each bite of food; this will help you to eat slowly. Engage in conversation. Put the phone away. 

- Use a smaller plate to make portions look larger.

- Avoid eating while you are cooking & cleaning up from meals.

- Take only one portion at a time.  If you are tempted to eat more, wait 20 minutes.  It takes that long for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full.

- Keep foods away from the table to prevent the urge for second helpings. Keep food on the stove or countertop so that you have to get up if you want seconds.

- Put all leftovers in your lunch for the next day or freeze them. Try to do this right away after you have finished eating to avoid the temptation to finish them.

- Eat the lower calorie foods first. Double up on fruits and vegetables - have a variety of these at meals.

- Brush your teeth after each meal.  This will discourage between meal snacks.

At the Grocery Store

- Make a shopping list to avoid buying unnecessary and often high-calorie foods.

- Don’t shop when you are hungry. Shopping on an empty stomach leads to over buying; especially unhealthy foods

- Buy only the quantity you need.

Good luck and healthy eating!

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