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Keeping your Health - and Weight - in Check During Stressful Times

Keeping your Health - and Weight - in Check During Stressful Times

Living through a historic pandemic brings many uncertainties and challenges. From taking on the role of home schooling, filing for unemployment, or fighting fear and anxiety, many of these situations have added a new meaning to the word “stress.” As soon as gyms closed and routines were thrown out of the window, healthy eating and exercising took a nosedive for many people. The good news is that it’s not too late to pick yourself back up and set new goals to help get you back on track.

While you may be tempted to seek out an extreme diet or a fat burning miracle supplement, remember these quick-fix solutions will rarely lead to the results you want. Focus on things that you can incorporate into your lifestyle permanently to give you sustainable results. Maybe for you that means giving up sodas or filling up half of your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Remember, small changes make a big difference, and slow and steady wins the race. In fact, research suggests that a 1-2 lb weight loss per week is desirable.

Here’s a few ways to get back on track:

Evaluate what you’re drinking

The calories and sugars in sodas, juice, lemonade, sweet tea, and alcohol add up quickly and often lead to a rapid blood sugar spike which can promote more fat storage and more cravings. On the other hand, diet beverages, laden with artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame, can disrupt the metabolism.

  • Opt for natural calorie free sweeteners such as monk fruit or stevia to sweeten beverages like tea and coffee and of course keep water as your primary beverage.
  • You can use fruit infused water or even add a naturally sweetened drink packet to your water
  • Most individuals need between 64 – 100 oz of water per day. Thirst is often confused with hunger so make sure that you are drinking enough water to prevent excess cravings.

Start reading food labels

What does the ingredient list say on your groceries? Processed foods are filled with preservatives that negatively affect your mood, energy, and digestive system and can also disrupt metabolism. The shorter and simpler the ingredient list the better. The majority of things you eat shouldn’t even have an ingredient list. Think fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and beans.

Close the kitchen after dinner

Avoid late night grazing and mindless eating which is when extra calories can pile up. It can be beneficial to have a 12-hour fasting window between dinner and breakfast the next day.

Make more family meals together:

With everyone at home the past few months, it’s no fun to feel like you’re always eating your separate “healthy” meal from the rest of the family. If you have kids at home, involve them in the shopping and cooking process. Kids are much more eager to try new foods when they’ve been a part of the process.

Add more movement into your daily routine

Take more walks, search for some You Tube home workouts, or crank up your favorite playlist and do a circuit of exercises like lunges, squats, or planks. Accountability is a big factor in re-charging your motivation to exercise. Reach out to a friend or family member and ask them to join you! If you are outside and keep a safe distance, the risk of transmitting germs in pretty low. You’ll never regret exercising. Setting aside 30 minutes each day is well worth the benefit you yield for your mood, energy, sleep habits, and waistline.

Track your food intake

If you need some extra accountability with your eating habits, track your food. You can use an app like My Fitness Pal or simply write your food intake in a notebook. Tracking what you’re eating can help bring awareness to what you are consuming and your portion sizes. Be sure that each meal has a source of healthy fat, protein, and fiber to promote fullness and blood sugar balance.

Get rid of the junk food

Set yourself up for success by keeping unhealthy foods out of the house as much as possible and load your fridge and pantry with healthy foods. Spend some time in the kitchen and meal prep so that you don’t have the burden of cooking on busier days. When time is limited have some backup options for healthy meals like a homemade smoothie or chicken salad with fresh vegetables for dipping.

When the road gets bumpy just remember to recalculate and stay committed to your journey. If you need more structure and direction, reach out to a dietitian for guidance to get a more customized nutrition plan. You can reach our dietitians at Baton Rouge General at 225-819-1175 to schedule an appointment.

Kristin WestKristin West, RD, LDN
Baton Rouge General Health & Wellness Center
(225) 819-1175