Healthy eating tips for kicking COVID-19 weight gain – Greeley Tribune

If you’re anything like me, staying at home for the past couple of months on COVID-19 quarantine didn’t just take a toll on your mind, but your body as well.

Working from home wasn’t a problem for me.  It was quite nice being able to get up in the morning and not have to worry about brushing my hair, putting makeup on or even changing out of my pajamas.

What was a problem was having constant access to snacks and the refrigerator.

Over the past 9 1/2 weeks that the Greeley Tribune has required its reporters to work from home, I have had a love affair with my kitchen.

Finish a story?  Have a snack.

Wrap up an interview? Have a snack.

Log off of a Zoom meeting? Yep, have a snack.

I started referring to the path from my desk to the kitchen as the “Highway to Hell” because those dozens of little ventures a day were causing hell on my waistline.

The number of trips I made to the kitchen finally got to be so ridiculous that my dog, Don Luigi, quit tagging along, hoping for a chance at some sort of treat. I started to feel self-conscious as Don Luigi laid on the couch motionless and judgey.

Finally, enough was enough. COVID-19 pandemic or not, I needed to get my snacking under control before I became a candidate for the show “My 600-lb. Life.”

Dieting is nothing new for me and I have done everything from the “cabbage soup” diet to Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig. Some were highly successful for a period of time while others were flat-out failures.

Don’t beat yourself up for gaining the weight. (Greeley Tribune file photo)

Not wanting to repeat past diet disasters I reached out to a couple registered dieticians — Lorissa Bronson with North Colorado Medical Center and Katie Kissane with UCHealth — for some tips and tricks to healthy and sustainable eating habits.

“I always advise people to eat when they are hungry, but sometimes we eat when we are bored,” Kissane said. “So we have to keep ourselves busy or provide ourselves some structure on when we are going to eat.”

One of the first things to keep in mind when starting a healthy eating program is to not beat yourself up for gaining the weight in the first place, Bronson said.

“I don’t think there’s a thing as ‘falling off the wagon,’” Bronson said. “I think it’s more about giving yourself some compassion. You need to have compassion for yourself instead of shaming yourself.”

Throwing out the diet mentality in general is a good initial step to successfully losing weight and keeping it off, both Bronson and Kissane advised. Restrictive diets, like the Keto, Paleo and Mediterranean diets, can be hard to maintain long-term, contributing to a low success rate.

“Diets in general are things that a lot of people try to do,” Bronson explained. “They attempt these diets over and over and the weight comes back on. It leaves them feeling like they failed the diet when really, the diet failed them.”

Instead of following a commercial diet plan, try adding in a few healthier foods like vegetables, fruit and lean meats to your meals on a daily basis, Kissane said.

“Instead of trying to take food out of the picture, try to eat more vegetables and fruit and less snack-type foods like chips and soda,” Kissane said. “Just by making that change alone, they could have some weight loss.”

Making a weekly meal plan can help keep you on top of what you eat as well as what you need to buy at the store, she explained.

“When we have a plan of what we are going to eat, it really does help,” Kissane said. “Especially if we can try to have most of those meals be healthy and go to the grocery store to get in and get out and not linger. That way you don’t end up with as much junk food.”

When incorporating healthy foods into your diet, Bronson suggests listening to your body for guidance.

Adding in a few fruits and vegetables to your daily meals will help get you on the path to weight loss. (Greeley Tribune file photo)

“Maybe you are having stomach issues and you need to increase your fiber or maybe you’re feeling sweaty and lightheaded and you need to increase your water intake,” she said. “Whatever it is, your body will tell you what it needs. It’s more goal oriented and purpose to make you feel good in your own body.”

Calorie and food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt! can be helpful tools in weight loss.

Users record what they ate during the day, how much water they drank and the amount of exercise they did to determine their calorie count versus calories burned. Users can also keep track of their weight loss, blood pressure, set goals, get healthy recipes and more with the apps.

However, the problem with calorie and food tracking apps is that the data is based on an algorithm and may not be totally accurate, Bronson pointed out.

“These apps don’t account for all of the activity you are doing,” Bronson said. “Most of the time the calorie app isn’t accounting for maybe you’re outside gardening for a long time or when you did go for a walk. It’s not thinking of you as a whole person.”

Manual food journaling is another way to keep track of food consumption and exercise on a daily basis. Journaling also allows you to make notes of how you are feeling which benefits your mental health as well as your physical health.

Whether you use an app or manually journal, or even don’t keep track of anything, it’s all an individual preference, Bronson said.

While you can lose weight just by changing what you eat, exercise is a big part of keeping weight off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

With gyms not open, people have had to look at other options of exercise such as walking, hiking and biking.

“Obviously try to maintain your distance from people,” Kissane said. “I’ve seen more people out than I have ever seen out. Just try to get outside more and take advantage of the nice weather. You don’t really need to go to the gym.”

Exercise with a buddy to keep each other motivated. Be sure to maintain social distancing recommendations. (Greeley Tribune file photo)

Items such as resistance bands, hand weights, exercise balls as well as exercise videos on YouTube are also great ways to start an exercise routine if your gym is closed or if you aren’t necessarily a gym person.

If you are struggling with losing weight, knowing what foods to eat and how much to incorporate into your diet, or are not sure how to start an exercise routine, don’t be afraid to consult professionals like nutritionists, registered dieticians and exercise trainers.

For more information and ideas on meal plans and healthy recipes, go to www.skinnytaste.com, www.eatingwell.com, www.tastesbetterfromscratch.com and www.acouplecooks.com.