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How To Prevent Overeating In Isolation

Many of us are dealing with a convergence of factors leading us to overeat. This includes anxiety and stress, change in routine, shame, lack of productivity, boredom, availability, lack of time to plan healthy meals, and some researchers say there may be a biological need to stuff ourselves for fear that we will lack access to food in the future, like animals preparing to hibernate.  
 
Whether you are comfortable gaining weight, wish to maintain your weight or seek to lose weight while under quarantine is extremely personal. Many people feel happier when they eat healthier. Yet, not everyone will have the strength to follow a plan right now. That said, there are specific steps we can all take to try to limit over consumption of food.
 

Carbs, Mood & Serotonin

As hard as it may be to believe, carbs are essential for weight loss because they drive the system that controls appetite and influence your mood. Specifically, eating carbs triggers a process involving the hormone insulin, an amino acid called tryptophan and a barrier between the blood and the brain. The net result of this process is the production of a brain chemical called serotonin.
 

Serotonin Impacts Appetite

Serotonin is the switch that turns off your appetite. It’s the “I have had enough to eat” switch. Serotonin is also the control that restores your good mood after stresses erode it. When produced consistently and regularly, serotonin prevents the
tendency to eat impulsively when stresses occur.
 

Here are 5 tips to help prevent overeating while under quarantine:

 
  1. Plan. Leaving our eating up to chance can lead to eating the easiest thing around, which is not always the healthiest. Ever go to the grocery store when you are hungry and buy way too much? It’s very easy to lose control over rational decision-making and overdo it when we are hungry and without a plan.
  2. Eat low carb snacks. To prevent intense cravings, eat carb snacks about an hour before each meal. Aim for a snack that’s around 125-150 calories, between 25 and 30 grams of carbs, less than 4 grams of protein and less than 3 grams of fat. Eating too much protein at this time will prevent the serotonin boost. Pretzels, popcorn, dry cereals, sweet potato and reduced fat crackers are all great options. Want more? Here are some of our favorites.
  3. Track your eating. If you aren’t counting what you are eating, you could be underestimating your consumption. Tracking also helps to reinforce positive eating behaviors. When you are eating well and you see the progress in writing, you are more likely to continue eating well. Use an app like MyFitnessPal.
  4. Distract yourself. Also, we don’t recommend sitting around the kitchen all day. Find something to keep you busy, whether it’s getting work done, playing a game with your children, knitting, etc. Calling a friend or taking a walk are great ways to keep yourself grounded and prevent you from sitting around noshing all day.
  5. Eat a low fat, high carb dinner. For so many of us, evenings are really difficult when it comes to managing our food intake. If you eat a low fat, high carb, low protein dinner, you will more likely feel satiated and in better spirits after your meal. To balance out this dinner, you’ll want to eat lots of protein at breakfast and lunch.

Be Kind To Yourself Right Now

We encourage you to forgive yourself if you have a rough day and overeat. This is a tough time for so many of us and it’s natural to have ups and downs. Do your best to acknowledge that and move on.
 
We hope this helps you during this challenging time. Please reach out if you need any additional support.

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