Hopefully, you’re social distancing and staying safe and healthy in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you need a little help with weight loss during these unusual times, or are just trying to maintain a healthy weight, here are my Top Ten Ideas For Managing Your Weight While Social Distancing.
1. To avoid grazing if you’re staying home, eat by the clock and stay out of your kitchen between meals (and scheduled snacks). This might not be the best time for “intuitive eating”.
2. Close your kitchen after dinner. If you’re tempted to wander in and look for a treat, just remind yourself that the kitchen is closed! Put up a sign if that helps.
3. Brush (extra credit if you floss!) your teeth after eating, to signal to your brain that now you’re done with food for awhile.
4. Wear a fitness tracker and challenge yourself (and your family) to get 10,000 steps. Dust off your old treadmill, walk your stairs, walk in your neighborhood, walk your dog, dance around your living room, and if the weather permits, ride your bike.
5. You’re going to want/need some sort of outing from time to time, so walk somewhere without crowds like a local forest preserve, Botanic Gardens, or the beach.
6. You don’t have to be perfect to manage your weight. It’s fine to have an occasional pleasure snack or treat. Just be sure you’re eating plenty of plant forward balanced meals, and avoid ultra-processed foods whenever possible.
7. Stick to a routine for meals, and also for sleep. It’s easier to manage your weight if you get enough (good quality) sleep. Commit to a bedtime and set your alarm for the morning, in order to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
8. Make half of your plate produce! If you’re trying to eat fruits and vegetables (which you ARE, right?), don’t despair if you can’t stand the long grocery lines to buy fresh produce. Frozen produce is just as healthy! Even canned veggies are fine, though avoid canned fruit with heavy syrup. The important thing is to keep eating balanced meals that are packed with nutrients.
9. Avoid the temptation to order in. There’s data showing that BMI increases with number of meals ordered in/eaten out. Swap out that Grub Hub app for the Fooducate app or Calm. If you’re ordering in, don’t let it become a food carnival.
10. Set yourself up for success by keeping your environment free of excessive temptation. Remember that you’re only human. If you stock up on large amounts of ice cream, chocolate, and Flaming Hot Cheetos, you’re vulnerable to overeat those things. While it’s fine to have modest treats while hunkering down at home, please don’t buy unusually large portions of any ultra-processed or “junk food”. You’re just setting yourself up for an unnecessary struggle.
Can I add one more, just for kicks?
11. Remember to breathe. We’ll get through this. Take care of your mind, your body, and your health during this unusual time. Reach out to friends, neighbors, and family by phone or video calling. There is a lot of data on the benefits of social connectedness, meditation, and stress management for both weight and health. This is a terrific time to try a one minute meditation from YouTube or to check out the Calm or Headspace apps.
Wishing you (and those you love) the best of health.
Lisa Oldson, MD
Diplomate, American Board of Obesity Medicine
Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine