You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We all have binge ate at some point. And now that we’re all on lockdown during this COVID-19 pandemic, I’m sure we’ve all done it more than a few times while we’ve been sheltering at home. Once in awhile is normal, but if this becomes part of your quarantine routine, that can be a serious health issue.
To make sure overeating does not become a habit, here are a few of my favorite tricks that have helped me control overeating.
KEEP YOUR SPACE CLEAN
This goes for your entire home, but most especially for your kitchen. Having cluttered and dirty surroundings are not only unhygienic but can lead to very poor eating choices. One study showed that having an untidy or chaotic kitchen increased the tendency to choose junk foods over healthier ones. I’m naturally a clean freak, so when things are messy, it’s stressful for me. And when I’m stressed, I tend to stress eat. Talk about a chain reaction. Makes sense—unhealthy environment, hence unhealthy choices.
JOURNAL YOUR MEALS
Off the top of your head, do you know how many calories you consumed today? How much protein or carbohydrates was in your last meal? The majority of the people I know don’t know the macronutrient and caloric value of the food they’re eating on a daily basis. That’s quite normal, but this means that most people don’t understand what nutrients and how many calories they consume every day. That’s not good.
If you knew that you already consumed two thousand calories by lunchtime, you may be less keen on having a heavy dinner or that late-night bag of chips. Whether on quarantine or not, maintaining a food diary has always helped me keep my food intake controlled and balanced. It’s like having a bank account. Knowing how much you spend daily allows you to make better spending decisions. The same goes for eating!
AVOID EATING FROM THE PACKAGING
I absolutely love potato chips. BBQ flavored is my favorite! Once I open a bag, there’s no stopping till the bag is empty, and that’s a terrible habit! What I do to control this, is I transfer a reasonable amount of chips to a bowl and then I put the rest of the bag of chips away—out of sight. More often or not, I don’t refill my bowl. This tip is much more relevant now when everyone is buying in bulk and we have a lot of food stocked at home. Whenever you eat, plate your food, put away the remainder or package, and sit down away from the kitchen to eat. Easy access to food is great but too easy can also be bad.
TAKE YOUR TIME
What’s the rush? The majority of people now have much more time on their hands while the world is on lockdown. So, take your time when you eat. Be mindful of every bite and every flavor. If you want, take it up a notch and remind yourself how the food you are eating is nourishing you. Not only will you enjoy your meals much more that way, but it also reminds you to be grateful for the food you’re eating. This prevents mindless, meaningless snacking which leads to overeating.
I also have a tip within a tip. When practicing mindful eating, I aim for the six. What do I mean by that? On a scale of one to 10, with one being pretty hungry and 10 being uncomfortably full, I try to go for six in terms of the level of fullness. When you eat, you should aim to be satisfied, not extremely full. So next time, aim for the six!
This pandemic has changed the way we live, including the way we eat. If you’re eating better—healthier and more well-balanced—than that is fantastic. That is one positive outcome of this situation. However, if you’re starting to build unhealthy eating habits as a result of this lockdown, like overeating, I encourage you to try these tricks and see what you can do to nix it before it sticks.