We all know what’s happening. Stuck in the same few rooms day after day with unlimited access to our kitchens, we are eating much more than we typically do during our normal busy lives. Overeating is hard enough to control under ordinary circumstances. Add quarantine to your lifestyle and it certainly adds to the challenge. Still, with a little knowledge and some smart strategies, you can stop eating so much and stay on track to your weight loss goal.
The first step is to understand what causes you to overeat. The reasons vary and you may have more than one (most people do). However, by becoming aware of the triggers, you can choose responses that work best to help you regain control. Even better, the experience you gain now in learning to limit overeating will be just as useful when we’re able to return to our busy, active lives again.
Here are some tips to help you stop eating so much during the quarantine:
Why: Worries about the health of you and your family. Uncertainty about the future. Feeling trapped inside our homes. Conflict with other people. All of us are experiencing more stress than usual while in quarantine. When we’re under persistent stress, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. According to Harvard Health, cortisol increases our appetites and our desire to eat. What’s more, research shows that people under stress are more likely than they usually are to eat foods high in fat, sugar or both.
Try: Spending 20 minutes in nature lowers your cortisol levels, according to a study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Another study, published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, found that yoga also decreases cortisol levels. Try incorporating a home yoga workout and some meditation into your daily routine. Make time to appreciate the natural world and to practice mindfulness each day and it will reduce your urge for unnecessary eating at home.
Why: Many of the same causes of stress are keeping us awake at night. When we get less than seven hours of sleep, the two hormones that manage our appetite are disrupted. Ghrelin signals to your brain that you need food so you know when it’s time to eat. Leptin lets your brain know you are full. Lack of sleep increases the production of ghrelin and reduces the leptin in your body, leading to overeating. Worse, those excess calories often come primarily from carbohydrate-rich foods, according to research, published in Clinical Nutritional and Metabolism Care.
Try: Give yourself a boost of energy to get through the day by including plenty of PowerFuels in your healthy meals and snacks. These foods are high in protein and healthy fats, so they keep you going strong and feeling full for hours after you’ve finished eating. Smart choices include nuts and nut butters, non-fat yogurt and Nutrisystem NutriCrush Chocolate Shake Mix. Avoid extra trips to the grocery store and consider signing up for a healthy food meal delivery service like Nutrisystem to get protein-packed food delivered directly to your door. This will allow you to continue practicing social distancing safe at home with a kitchen full of guilt-free options.
Why: Sometimes we eat just because we see food that we like. The packaging shows off enticing photos and we begin to imagine how good it tastes. Then we find ourselves in an inner struggle to resist the urge to eat, even though we know we’re not hungry. When we’re stuck inside in quarantine and can’t divert our attention away from the tempting foods, the impulse to eat often overwhelms us.
Try: Stock up on a wide variety of snacks from Nutrisystem. From savory favorites such as Honey Mustard Pretzel Bits and White Cheddar Popcorn, to sweet treats like our Chocolate Brownie Sundae and Peanut Butter Cookie, you’ll find options to satisfy any craving. Snacks from Nutrisystem are made with the guidance of our team of dietitians and crafted by our chefs to ensure they are nutritious and delicious, so you can enjoy them when temptation strikes and still stay on track to your weight loss goals.
Clean out your kitchen while in quarantine to make room for a healthy food haul. Click here for our step-by-step guide. >
Why: When our days are stuck on repeat and each one feels the same as the last, we start looking for excitement to break up the boredom. Eating when bored is a common problem many of us struggle with that gets amplified when our activities are so limited. Too often we reach for junk food to add a little treat to an otherwise dull day, according to a study, published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Try: Nothing brings out the joy in people like dancing. When everyone needs a fun distraction, start a family dance off, with everyone getting a chance to choose the song and show off their best moves. Bonus: Dancing for 30 minutes can burn as many as 223 calories in a 155-pound person, says Harvard Health Publishing.
Need a few ideas to avoid letting boredom get the best of you? Check out these nine warm weather activities that torch calories at home! >
Why: The signals your body sends when you need food and when you need fluids originate in the same part of the brain. Those signals can feel very similar: a rumble in your belly, a lack of energy and maybe a dull headache. What’s more, when you’re even a little dehydrated, your liver holds on to its glycogen reserves, the essential source of energy for your body. That means you may crave food because your body isn’t getting the fuel it needs, even though just drinking water will get the fuel pumping through your system again.
Try: Make a habit of drinking water steadily throughout the day. On Nutrisystem, we recommend drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day. If you get bored with plain water, you can add lemon and mint or substitute sodium-free seltzer. Black coffee and unsweetened tea will also count towards your daily water intake. However, just keep in mind that they may contain caffeine, which could make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
Why: For many of us, overeating is not caused by eating too often but by consuming too much at one time. When our appetites are satisfied, our digestive tract sends a signal to the brain to tell us we can stop eating. However, there is a lag between the time that we’ve had enough food and when our brain receives the signal. Even more challenging, for some people that message isn’t as strong as it is for others, say the experts at Harvard University School of Medicine.
Try: Nutrisystem weight loss programs are designed to help you learn good eating habits for the rest of your life. One of the most important lessons is to understand healthy portion sizes. Every Nutrisystem meal is prepared to give you exactly the amount of food you need to satisfy your appetite and your body’s nutritional demands. When you’re making meals for yourself, follow your Flex meal guidelines and refer to our handy Grocery Guide so you know just how much of each ingredient is the right portion for you. Stick with those guidelines and you’ll be full and well-nourished after each meal and snack you eat. You can also our free online tracking app, NuMi, to keep track of your food intake throughout the day and prevent going off plan while in quarantine. Log meals in your own personal food journal and even set daily reminders to drink water and stay hydrated.
What does 100 calories really look like? Click here to find out! >
Want healthy meals delivered to your home? We’re here for you! Learn more about Nutrisystem meal plan delivery or shop our menu a la carte. >