Five steps to maintain your weight and to feel your best during COVID-19

Our lives have been disrupted in ways we couldn’t fathom two months ago. Many of my patients have expressed concern about losing the progress they had achieved towards their health goals before the COVID-19 outbreak began. If you are hoping to emerge from this feeling your best and having stayed on track, consider implementing some of the recommendations below.

  1. Progress over perfection. The all or nothing mentality can be detrimental in achieving our goals. Many of us in the healthcare profession tend to be perfectionists but when it comes to our health, this mindset may not be the best approach. Don’t negate the benefits that small, positive changes in the long-term can make. Set one small goal each week and stick to it. Examples of this include drinking eight glasses of water daily or walking for 15 minutes each weekday.
  2. Exercise. There are countless benefits to exercise. Physical activity can improve sleep, reduce anxiety, help us to maintain or lose weight, strengthen our bones and muscles, and reduce our risk for developing chronic disease. If you have fallen off your exercise routine during the stay-at-home orders, start somewhere and start today. Take your lunch break to get outside and walk. Begin a couch to 5K running program. Stream exercise videos at home. There are a wealth of free online workouts you can customize based on duration, training type, and equipment available.
  3. Rate your hunger. Eating out of boredom is especially difficult for those of us working from home. Utilizing the hunger/fullness scale from the Intuitive Eating movement is an excellent tool to help us become more mindful with our eating habits. Before meals or snacks, pause and rate yourself from one to ten on how hungry or full you feel. A one translates to feeling famished or ravenous and a ten is uncomfortably full, similar to how we tend to feel after Thanksgiving dinner. Check in with yourself again about halfway through a meal or snack. Once you’ve reached a seven, meaning you are full but not too uncomfortable, this is a good indicator to stop eating.
  4. Fill half your plate with vegetables. It’s indisputable that one of the best things we can do for ourselves nutritionally is to incorporate more plants into our diet. The plate method teaches us that at each meal, half of our plate should be filled with a variety of nonstarchy vegetables. Here are some stress-free ways to include veggies with each meal:
    1. Rely on bagged salad kits. These are smart additions to pizza nights or days when you have no time to prepare lunch. You can combine and shake all ingredients in the bag without dirtying up any dishes.
    2. Turn vegetables into noodles or rice. Cauliflower rice and spiralized vegetables like carrots and zucchini (AKA “zoodles”) are getting a lot of PR right now. They’re nutritious and actually fun to make. Consider substituting half of your rice or pasta with these veggies.
    3. Bake a large batch of vegetables on sheet pans and store in Tupperware to add veggies to meals throughout the week. This is a great option if you have some extra time to food prep on a day off from work. You can simplify this even more by buying bagged vegetables that are already chopped.
    4. Stock up on frozen vegetables. For the most part, frozen veggies are equally as nutritious as fresh. They require minimal prep and cook time. Consider steaming vegetables to use as a side dish or adding them to soups and pasta dishes.
    5. Add spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and onions to your scrambled eggs in the morning. Vegetables don’t always sound appetizing first thing in the morning. Try to sneak them into scrambled eggs or add a handful of spinach to your breakfast smoothie.
  5. Go easy on the booze. Alcohol sales are soaring throughout the US amid stay at home orders. When it comes to drinking, moderation is key. Follow the 1:1 rule with alcohol to water. For every alcoholic drink have one large glass of water. Go easy on the super sweet cocktails and margaritas. Approach these drinks the same way you would dessert, meant to be enjoyed on special occasions.

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About Alex DePriest, RD

Alex DePriest is a registered dietitian for UofL Health Diabetes and Nutrition Care. She teaches diabetes self-management education and support group classes, and provides individualized medical nutrition therapy in the outpatient setting. Alex serves on the board for the Louisville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a member of the Diabetes Prevention Work Group through Healthy Kentucky’s Community Advisory Council. She also participates in the Kentucky Diabetes Network, the Kentucky Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Diabetes Dietetics Practice Group through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

All posts by Alex DePriest, RD