How To Stop Overeating While Sheltering in Place
Right now, many of us are dealing with pretty radical changes to our lifestyle that require some adjustment. When you’re sheltering in a place, overeating could be the result of stress, boredom, distractions, or even just missing your mom, among other reasons. If you’ve been overindulging or binging during this rocky time, you’re not alone. But do know that getting back on track is possible.
“Generally, the term ‘overeating’ refers to eating more than one needs during a meal or snack sitting,” explains Yasi Ansari, MS, RDN, CSSD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Overeating can lead to bloating, heartburn, and gas (however, don’t confuse it with binge eating).
Here are some tips to learn how to stop overeating when you’re spending more time indoors:
1. Don’t skip meals or undereat.
You might be worrying about weight gain or thinking you’re not getting enough exercise. However, eliminating meals is not a healthy solution. Surprisingly, one of the biggest reasons for overeating is not eating enough.
If you start skipping meals for any reason, when you do eventually sit down to eat, the tendency is to overcompensate to replenish the key macronutrients your body is missing, explains Ansari.
2. Follow a routine.
Maybe you’ve started sleeping in or staying up late watching Netflix to stay calm. We get it. But try to keep a routine, even if it’s a different than the norm.
“Setting a meal schedule might be challenging in unsettling times, but creating structure is going to be the most helpful strategy for preventing overeating,” says Ansari.
She recommends eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner spaced about three to four hours apart. And make room for at least two snacks peppered throughout the day, when you need an energy boost, such as before or after a workout.
3. Plan balanced meals.
Going to the supermarket is a chore now, or you may be waiting on a re-up on your grocery delivery. But try to eat healthy, balanced meals when possible.
“Add variety to your plate, and make sure to get a serving of protein, carbs, and fats at every meal,” says Ansari.
Each macro plays an essential role in keeping your body satiated and managing your appetite. Carbohydrates, for example, provide efficient fuel and are often good sources of fiber, which helps keep you feeling full longer.
“If you’re not meeting the right level of carbs, you could end up eating more food to compensate for that lack of energy,” she adds.
4. Drink water
“When we’re thirsty, our body sometimes confuses it for hunger,” says Ansari. “When you’re meeting your hydration needs, you’re better able to recognize when you are physically hungry.”
However, hunger can also manifest differently from person to person, ranging from a growling stomach to a lack of energy or “hanger,” among other cues. Get to know your personal hunger signs. And, try to get at least eight to 12 cups of water daily, suggests Ansari.
5. Eat mindfully (not in front of screens).
There might be a ton on your mind (and a ton at your fingertips to keep you constantly scrolling, watching, and listening). However, when your stomach starts rumbling, it’s time to tune out those endless distractions. Dining in front of a screen could lead to overeating and detract from the overall enjoyment and satisfaction you get from a great meal. Let mealtime be a welcome distraction from the doom and gloom you read and see.
“Find a comfortable setting, so you can be aware of what you’re consuming,” says Ansari.
Slowing down can also help your body recognize when you’re full. About 20 minutes is a reasonable time frame for eating a meal, but if you’re still hungry, your body might need some extra nourishment, so go ahead and have another helping, recommends Ansari.
6. Take breaks for movement you enjoy.
“When you’re sheltering in a place, it’s important to incorporate movement breaks into your day,” says Ansari. She recommends at least two 15-minute breaks. If you’re able, go outside for a walk. Or, try yoga or any of the Openfit fitness programs from the comfort of your home.
7. Don’t confuse food and feelings.
“It’s important to separate food and feelings,” says Ansari. “Feeling unsure about the future and not knowing when you’ll see loved ones can really impact someone. Eating can become a form of comfort or a way to pass the time.”
Journal, meditate, call or text a friend, or listen to your favorite music when you’re feeling lonely or sad instead of opening the fridge. And if you do nosh a little more than usual, cut yourself some slack. Times are tough, but they’ll get easier.