As COVID-19 continues to keep people at home, you may start to notice your weight creeping up on the scale. Several factors contribute to this including stress eating, leading more sedentary lives (i.e. telecommuting), and accessibility. Many people stormed the grocery stores when the pandemic first made waves in the United States, buying up staple foods, exotic ingredients, and everything in between. With more stress, less mobility, and stockpiles of food, it’s harder than ever for bariatric patients to stick to their diet. The holidays aren’t helping matters either, as food often plays an integral role.
The following are several tips to help you avoid gaining weight during the pandemic this winter:
- Establish a new routine. Many complained of cabin fever over the spring and summer months, but it’s likely to get worse as cold weather eliminates the outdoors as an option. If you’ve become reliant on daily outdoor activities, now is the time to establish a new routine. Swap out your morning walk with yoga, meditation, or a quiet cup of coffee. Join an online workout class if you prefer lively engagement. Be sure to incorporate self-care into your routine as well to help yourself unwind at the end of the day. The last thing you want is for all the days to begin to blur together or for your entire schedule to revolve around food.
- Make a mini-bucket list. People set out to complete lofty goals at the start of the pandemic. Some wanted to learn another language, while others wanted to write a novel. Many soon discovered those things aren’t so easy to achieve. This is because we are overstressed, which stunts creativity, learning, and more. However, that isn’t to say you can’t set and achieve more realistic goals. With more time on our hands and less to do with it, it’s best to find ways to keep busy. Draw up a list of short-term goals or desires you haven’t been able to achieve and start working through them. Some examples include reading more books, catching up on your favorite shows, or finishing up a craft project that’s been sitting half-finished for too long.
- Get serious about food prep. Your family is going to be home with you a lot more than usual. You’re going to be home a lot more than usual as well. This is much more time spent around food. The temptation to eat when you’re not hungry will be high because of stress, fear, and boredom. If you make dishes and snacks ahead of time, you’ll find it’s much easier to stick to your diet. When you go to reach for a snack, you’ll know you’re making a smart choice.
- Stay active. This will be harder during the winter months. Create a workout space in your home. If you’re tight on space, focus on clearing a small area that is simple to put back together after exercise. For example, moving an ottoman or coffee table to the side of the room can clear enough floor space to allow you to exercise. Exercise can help keep your mind off food, and it releases hormones to help improve your mood. Regardless of whether you were an avid exercise enthusiast prior to COVID or not, you’re moving less now than you did before the pandemic. You will need to find ways to incorporate more moving into your day to combat the increase in sedentary behavior.
- Manage your stress. Stress can lead to overeating, mindless grazing, or eating for comfort. Stress hormones trigger the desire to eat, increase belly fat, and slow the metabolism. However, reducing stress during a pandemic is a tall order. Thankfully, you can download one of many free apps that focus on managing stress. Some examples include Headspace, Breathe, and Calm. Other techniques for reducing stress include meditation, yoga, and practicing mindfulness.
- Set a sleep schedule. Sleeping too much is just as bad for your health as not sleeping enough. Both contribute to increased appetite, weight gain, and poor blood sugar control. You should aim to go to bed and rise around the same time every day for optimum health. If you find yourself wide awake at night but exhausted in the morning, you may need to reexamine your routine. B vitamins can boost your energy levels, so it’s best to take those earlier in the day. Blue lights from phones, tablets, and televisions can also disrupt sleep cycles. Invest in blue light reducing glasses, turn your devices onto night mode, or unplug from electronics an hour or so before bed. Making these changes can improve your sleep cycle.
Having a plan in place can help you stay on track with your bariatric diet during the winter months. The situation may not be ideal, but you can still experience weight loss success. Contact us to learn more about achieving long-term weight loss with bariatric surgery.