It’s been almost a year since coronavirus broke out. While the situation has improved since then, it would be naive to expect that the virus is going away anytime soon. And although the lockdown isn’t that strict in most places anymore, we are still advised to stay home unless necessary, maintain a social distance, and generally keep practising the precautions we have been in the past year.
One thing that has remained constant throughout is the struggle to avoid stress and boredom-induced food cravings. The extra time everyone’s spending at home has increased boredom and easier access to some of our favourite snacks and comfort foods. As a result, we indulge in a lot more snacking, which may not be healthy for us. This can lead to various issues, such as weight gain and cavities.
However, being cooped up inside our homes for hours on end means that focusing on our diet and health is more important than ever. As awful as it seems, being stuck at home does come with a few hidden blessings. This could be a great time to detox yourself from all the pollution of the outside world and become more mindful about your eating habits.
Follow these tips to avoid temptations during the lockdown, and use it as a time to eat more healthily.
Structure an Eating Plan – And Follow It!
It is easy to reach for that packet of chips or that leftover bagel in your fridge if you don’t follow a structured and scheduled eating plan. This may be the foremost reason people have gained so much weight during the lockdown.
Try creating a structure for your eating. Plan your meals in advance, prepare them in portion sizes, and eat at predetermined times daily. Add nutritious and fillings foods to your plate so that you don’t feel hungry between meals. You can also look into intermittent fasting – it has many benefits and prevents you from overeating.
With SOPs still preventing restaurants from functioning like before, many people have switched to take-away and home delivery instead. It can be very tempting to eat directly from the plate, but this can often lead to overeating. The food delivery packages are designed to store more foods. As a result, you may not be aware of how much you’re eating.
Emptying your food on a plate will make you visually aware of the amount of food in the package. Doing the same things for other packaged foods such as chips, biscuits, and ready-to-eat meals also helps in the long run, and it may even prevent you from opening a second package.
Eat A Variety of Food
One of the significant reasons people crave certain foods is because the body lacks specific nutrition. However, we are generally incapable of understanding what nutrition our body is craving and always consuming refined carbs and high-sugar foods to satisfy our cravings. For instance, if you’re craving sweets, you may be deficient in chromium – a mineral found in many foods and fruits. However, you’d probably reach for a donut instead of an apple while experiencing such cravings.
This doesn’t solve the issue and only leads to more cravings. It is no secret that our body needs various nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to function correctly. However, no single food can supply all the nutrients in the amounts you need. Eating multiple whole foods, including various vegetables and fruits, meats, fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, cheese, yoghurt, etc., can provide you with the essential nutrients your body requires. This can leads to reduced cravings over time.
The advice you’ll find on every health and fitness blog, yet so many people fail to follow it. Our body is 70% water. So it craves a lot of water to function correctly. However, we often mistake our hunger for thirst or cravings. Next time you’re craving those salty treats, try drinking a tall glass of water and wait 20 minutes. Chances are, your cravings will have either gone or reduced significantly. Additionally, make sure that you’re drinking at least 2 litres of water each day; more if you take part in a lot of physical activity or live particularly close to the Equator.
Get Enough Sleep
Another thing that leads to cravings is tiredness. You are more likely to crave carbohydrates and sugar for energy when you have sleepless nights regularly. Not only does your brain craves junk food when it’s overtired, but it also ends up lacking impulse control – a combination that is not good for your health. Try maintaining a sleeping schedule.
Wake up early each morning and try to sleep on time instead of trying to binge the entire season of that Netflix show in one night. And make sure that you’re getting at least 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye.
Find Another Way to Panic
This may sound like bad advice at first, but stick with it for a moment: you can make panicking work for you. The issue is that most people opt for unhealthy coping mechanisms – including stress-induced eating. However, there are many outlets where you can release your stress, which is actually beneficial for you. Learn to release your stress through yoga, meditation, or even by working out. Another thing that works for a lot of people is journaling. So, next time you crave that muffin because you feel stressed, try grabbing a pen and a notebook and writing down your feelings. Or try any other healthy coping mechanism that works for you.
Remember that most of the time when we’re craving something or feeling untimely hungry, it could actually be a signal for something completely else. Try to remain mindful of yourself and your mental health so that you are better able to manage these stress responses.