By Megan Zakarewicz, DO, medical weight loss physician with Grand View Health
It is easy to conclude that weight gain is inevitable during this stressful COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t have to be. With all the uncertainty surrounding us, it’s very empowering to take control of your personal health.
That’s why it’s a great time to evaluate your personal goals. If losing or maintaining your weight is a priority, you can make healthy choices now to get or stay on track. Try these 5 ways to avoid the “Quarantine 15’ (a weight gain of 15 pounds or more during #StayAtHome orders):
- Write it when you bite it.
Accurate, honest meal logging is the single greatest predictor of long-term weight maintenance. Write it down in a journal or use an app. Our Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss patients have access to the GVH Health tracker app. This helps them learn about nutrition and gain insight into their eating habits. Through the app, we also provide real-time feedback to our patients and answer nutritional questions as they arise.
- Have a plan.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Most of us have a lot less structure in our lives than we did before COVID-19. Writing down each day’s meals and snacks ahead of time can give you some structure. It also will help you limit your trips to the grocery store. Perhaps you can look up some simple, healthy recipes and write down the ingredients you will need. Be flexible and have a back-up plan in case the store is out of what you need.
- Snack with intention.
When you find yourself in front of the fridge (again), stop and think, “Am I hungry?” If the answer is no, step back and figure out a better way to fulfill the emotion you are feeling. Is it boredom? Stress? Loneliness? By acknowledging the emotion, you are one step closer to figuring out how to fill the need in a healthier way. If you are hungry, follow some basic snacking rules.
- Keep your snacks to 100-150 calories or less.
- Avoid processed carbohydrates and refined sugars.
- Do not eat directly out of a package. Instead, read the nutrition label, portion out the snack and put the package away prior to eating.
- Sit down at a table and mindfully enjoy your snack instead of eating it in front of the TV, computer screen or smartphone.
- Practice the plate method.
We recommend our patients fill half of their plates with non-starchy vegetables before adding any other food. Next, add 4 – 6 oz. of lean protein. The combination of protein and fiber is satisfying, can help cut down on cravings and help control blood sugars.
- Move it or groove it.
Now is a time to get creative. Your gym is closed? No problem! Technology can not only help us stay socially connected during this time, but it can help us get in shape or stay strong, too. There are tons of fitness app and YouTube channels devoted to exercise. There are apps and videos for every fitness level and preference. If it is safe for you, take a walk or run outside. You can also put on some music and just dance. This not only burns calories, but also reduces stress hormones and helps to promote more restful sleep. Set a goal. Make a daily plan for how many minutes you can be active, and work to stick to your plan. Most of us have a little more time on our hands these days, so make the most of it!
About the author: Megan Zakarewicz, DO, is a primary care physician with certification in obesity medicine. She leads the Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss program. She is accepting new patients via telemedicine appointments. For more information, call the Grand View Health hotline at 215-453-4100 to schedule an appointment.