Updated: Nov 25, 2020
I'm not one to obsess about weight but working from home during COVID took a toll on my body because...well...wine.
I will be the first to tell you the scales don't matter (especially during a global health pandemic) but feeling out of control around food is the worst so I'm here to help, Since things have somewhat normalised in Australia, a few clients have asked for diet advice to help lose the 'COVID curves' but here's the thing...
Nutrition is a minefield of information and it's easy to fall into the latest fad diet in desperate search of a quick fix. What I eat won't have the same affect on your body as it does on mine so there's no point following a generic food plan if you want long term results.
The best way to regain control of your eating in a sustainable way is by making small, manageable changes to your diet so here are my 5 nutrition tips to help you crawl out of the post-COVID slump.
Tip #1. Keep your snacks at 600kj (150 cals) or less.
Restrictive diets can ironically cause the extra kilos to sneak on but more often than not, weight gain is attributed to over-eating. Snack foods are the easiest to over-eat because we don't realise how much 'one serving' really is (and they are usually quite moreish!)
If you're time poor, the best way to buy snacks is in pre-portioned packets. They are more expensive to buy this way but convenience is king when it comes to making healthy food choices.
Having a single serving ready to throw in your bag on the way out the door means less chance of mindless over-eating or buying something high in calories when you're in desperate need of a snack!
Make sure to check the back of the packet to keep each snack serving at 150 cals or less.
Tip #2. Use a food planner to map out your meals and display it somewhere obvious.
Displaying a food planner in plain view will help you stay focused on the week ahead (we have a big magnetic one on our fridge)
Write down what you have planned for home-made meals each week using a black marker then write down the meals you plan to eat out using a red marker. If your planner has more red than black marker on it, that means your balance is out. 80% black and 20% red is right on the money!
Preparation is the key to success when it comes to nutrition but don't beat yourself up if you waver slightly from your weekly plan. It is important to allow some flexibility with your diet so you don't become obsessive around food.
Tip #3. Stick to a healthy diet for at least three months (making small changes along the way)
Food choices you make now may take weeks or even months to change your body.
Like literally months.
If you eat and drink too much (hello COVID) for an extended period of time, the extra body fat will show up eventually; whether it appears on the outside of your body or around your organs (visceral fat). The same rule applies if you change your diet for the better.
We can not expect our bodies to change unless we are consistent with a healthy diet for at least three months so look at your weekly meal plan and decide if you could easily follow it for 90 days. If not, adjust your meals or portion sizes slightly based on how you feel each day.
For example, if you eat 1 cup of oats in the morning but you feel starving 30 minutes later then try 1,5 cups of oats the following day or add some fruit or a sprinkle of nuts to fill it out.
You may not get it right straight away. Making small adjustments to your diet each week is the best way to figure out what works best for your body. Be patient.
Tip #4. Don't set yourself up for failure.
Testing your resilience isn't the solution to side-stepping your eating habits. If you buy a block of chocolate and smash it all in one sitting, that doesn't mean you're weak; it just means you are human and you might need to buy a small bar of chocolate instead of buying in bulk.
If you go out for dinner, order the dessert but split it with your partner, order some chips but order a plate for the table so you don't eat the whole plate on your own then feel guilty about it for the next 12 hours. Unless you're one of those people who can eat a couple of chips off your plate and leave the rest (weirdo), don't set yourself up for failure.
It's not always about what we eat but rather how much we eat so think about ways to manage portion control as opposed to relying on will power to resist the Ben and Jerry's calling your name from the freezer!
Tip #5. If you over-indulge, accept it and move on!
Guilt is simply not helpful if your goal is to develop healthy eating habits. It’s a negative emotion that can cause your body to produce more of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline that trigger the 'fight or flight' response to stress. Over time this can scatter your thinking, increase your level of stress and undermine your physical and mental wellbeing. No one ever lost weight by worrying about something they ate yesterday. It's literally time and energy wasted!
Weight gain is frustrating but 'quick fix' diets never work in the long term so if you've been one to yo-yo in the past, maybe now is the time to change the way you approach healthy eating.
True happiness can't be achieved from something as quantifiable as weight loss so focus on seeking fulfilment in other areas of your life and the rest will happen in time. A little bit of patience could mean a lifetime of feeling good about your body and that's well worth the wait!
Here's to a happy, healthy and balanced you,