With the current global health crisis front and center, we have all changed our routines, and for many, our “new normal” has been staying safe at home. With these new routines, and additional stress, have you found yourself eating more than you normally would, or craving more hyper-palatable foods, or snacking a little too much throughout the day? Well, you are not alone. I have heard from many clients and friends that this has been a struggle, whether it is due to stress, boredom, ever-present food options, or less structure during the day.
It is not just about willpower. Your brain plays a big role in overeating.
Your brain helps to drive what, when, and how much we eat. Hormones, fatty acids, amino acids, glucose, and body fat all play a role. Our genes, learned behavior, environmental factors, and social cues also are components of why and what we eat. Foods with high fat content, refined sugar or starches, salty or sweet foods, pleasing textures, flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners, caffeine or alcohol are all types of foods that keep us interested in eating.
Changing your behavior is a positive way to get your hunger regulation system back on track with these following tips:
1. Eat more whole foods and less processed foods: less packaged snacks, sugary drinks, less candy, less highly processed carbohydrates.
2. Eat more lean protein: protein and healthy fats will keep you fuller for longer.
3. Eat more vegetables; you will get more nutrient-rich benefits with less caloric density.
4. Eat quality carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, legumes, starchy tubers, and fruit.
5. Eat healthy fats from high-quality oils and butter, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
6. Eat slowly and mindfully, turn off the electronics, set the table, encourage family conversations, have your children help prepare a meal.
7. Be flexible. It is ok to indulge in some of your favorite, more indulgent foods. Try not to label foods as “banned” or “bad” as that promotes feelings of guilt. Eating a cookie or ice cream occasionally, mindfully, and just until you feel satisfied is a great way to approach it.
8. Self-awareness. Check in with yourself and listen to your body’s cues. Ask yourself how you feel before, during, and after meals. Are you eating because you are truly hungry or for some other reason?
Stay Safe and Healthy! Eat to fuel your body and mind. Move your body, whatever way feels good for you!
Sara Florio is an ACSM personal trainer, occupational therapist, holistic nutrition health coach, and PN1 certified. She became an OT because she wanted to effect positive change in patients and promote independence through movement. She and her partner Marco Antunez (Physical Therapist Assistant and ACSM certified personal trainer) own Total Body Performance Fitness, an in-home concierge and virtual personal training company servicing Fairfield and Westchester counties. Over the years with the ever-changing healthcare system, her thought process has led her more toward a passion for overall wellness as well as injury and disease prevention and how the body can heal itself. This has turned into a great segway into the personal training and the nutrition health-coaching field. She has always been interested in women’s health, nutrition and fitness, and the work-life balance. She is grateful to be able to share her knowledge with others who are looking for a healthy change.
You can learn more about Total Body Performance Fitness at tbpfitness.com and on Instagram @tbp_fit.