Posted on 4 Comments

7 Lockdown Tips for Weight Control

Whether we like it or not, most of us are stuck at home for now. This means that we’re getting less exercise, snacking a lot more, and stressing ourselves out. Under these circumstances, weight gain may seem inevitable and weight control almost impossible. But, here’s a reminder. Life hasn’t come to an end, it’s only on pause, and you still want to be beach ready when this is all over. So, instead of wallowing in self-pity or despair, seize this downtime as an opportunity to refocus and put yourself first. Staying focused on weight control or weight management is far from impossible and here are 7 simple weight control tips to help you get started.

Simple Tips for Weight Control During the Lockdown

Staying focused on weight control or weight management may seem almost impossible right now, but it’s not. Here are 7 simple tips for weight control during the lockdown.

1. Meal Prep Matters

Without your regular commute to work and the need to juggle an insane workload, the need for meal planning can seem redundant. In truth, meal planning is even more important during the lockdown. A study published in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that meal prep can significantly improve diet quality, food variety, balanced nutrition, and weight control. Meal prep allows you to gain greater control over your diet, in terms of both nutrition and portion control. After all, it’s easier to stay the course when you have your food portioned out and ready in advance.

2. Order Healthy Takeout

Most of us have switched, almost entirely, to cooking meals at home. Aside from the fact that it’s a healthy choice, it’s also one that we’ve been forced into as most local restaurants have been shut. That said, many restaurants still offer takeaway and home delivery services. Ordering takeout is perhaps the best way to break the monotony of eating your own home prepped meals and to support local restaurants during the lockdown. Just make sure that you’re mindful about your food choices, opting for green salads and grilled meats instead of deep fried foods, burgers, and pizzas. Be sure to also watch how much you eat, as restaurants tend to serve oversized meals that are actually meant for 2 people.

3. Avoid Emotional Eating

With the uncertainty around us and the loneliness of social distancing, many of us are struggling to cope with comfort food. While snacking can be a great way to avoid overeating and to maintain healthy body weight, stress eating or emotional eating can be extremely unhealthy. Indulging in unhealthy junk foods frequently will inevitably lead to weight gain and a whole lot of health risks. At the same time, it won’t do you much good in terms of boosting your mood as the mood boost is only temporary, but you’re then left with guilt and even stronger food cravings.

4. Fill Up With Fiber, Complex Carbs, and Proteins

If you’re trying to keep a check on body weight, sugar and simple carbs are the worst things to put in your body. Foods that are high in sugar and simple carbs will cause a spike in blood glucose levels. Not only does this increase fat storage, but it also increases the frequency and severity of food cravings. This means cutting back on most ultra-processed foods, especially cookies, donuts, and other desserts. Complex carbs from fresh fruits and veggies are healthier choices and will also increase your fiber intake, keeping you satiated for longer. Healthy proteins from lean meats like chicken, turkey, and fish or eggs will also help to reduce food cravings and the risk of overeating.

5. Try Mindful Eating

You’ve probably heard of mindfulness meditation, which is a meditative practice that helps cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. While mindfulness will obviously help cope with lockdown stress, it can also be applied to eating. Mindful eating is the practice of eating in a more focused manner, paying greater attention to your body and to your food. It trains you to become more attuned to your body, helping distinguish between hunger and cravings, creates an appreciation for healthy food, and lowers the risk of overeating or making poor food choices.

6. Keep Moving

There’s no denying the fact that it’s harder to workout and stay motivated when every neighborhood gym is shut. They will be back eventually, but in the meantime you can work up a sweat at a home. You can use online workout videos and tutorials to find routines that are perfectly suited for you. Most of these home workout programs don’t require gym equipment or props, but they can be pretty intensive. In fact, many Instagrammers and other social media users have embraced lockdown fitness challenges to get in shape during the shutdown.

7. Don’t Skimp on Sleep

Sleep may seem like the least important thing when you’re focused on controlling your weight, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Sleep has a direct impact on the levels of hormones that regulate hunger, with studies showing that sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can increase food cravings and the likelihood of weight gain. Aside from weight gain, the lockdown would be a good time to catch up on sleep because of its impact on immunity, which is perhaps your best defense against coronavirus infection.

Posted on 6 Comments

How to avoid emotional eating

How to avoid emotional eating

You just finished your lunch and you’re already thinking about what you’ll have for dinner? Do you feel that in front of any plate of food, your life is on autopilot? Do you hardly remember any time when your desire is not simply to chew?

So, you need to accept that you eat emotionally. And although at this moment it seems that there is no way out, that you have no escape, I come to tell you the opposite.

  • To stop eating emotionally, you must change your attitude and mentality. You should change limiting thoughts, such as “I can’t eat much” for thoughts that take away frustration, like “I can eat much better.”
  • In addition, you should eat healthy foods more frequently. Don´t limit yourself to just three times a day! About this, I’ll talk to you in a second.
  • Include any physical activity routine, which not only allows you to connect with the body you want, but with the emotions that make you happy.

You will tell me, “David, it is very easy to say, but doing so is something else.” And you are right. Beating a compulsion is not easy, there will be difficult times, but the first step is to make the decision to do it from a completely healthy place.

Let me tell you Sofia´s story, whom I met through an email she sent me. An email that touched me to the last fiber of my being.

In that email, written with an open heart, Sofia told me about her despair, because she couldn’t stop eating. Her life had been transformed into endless binge eating, which didn’t even satisfy her.

The bingeing did not appear out of nowhere. In a year, she had moved from her beloved Sevilla to Paris, had broken up with her boyfriend and had changed jobs.

All these situations were leading her, without noticing, to a state of terrible anxiety, and she felt more out of control every day. Eating had become unconscious. When she was overeating, she swore that she would not do it again, and the next minute, she was already putting in her mouth one more bite.

And most of the time, they weren’t even foods that gratified her, she almost didn’t enjoy the flavors. At some point, when she felt that food was dominating her life, and she asked for help.

The first request for help, was addressed to a psychologist, and the second S.O.S, was the email she sent me.

She wanted my help to fix the nutritional issue, but also, she wanted someone to inspire her to find through physical activity, a way to control her anxiety.

Because, after all, emotional eating is related to anxiety. In Sofia’s words, she “ate to numb emotions.”

What if instead of numbing emotions, you let them flow through a physical activity that gratifies you? That was what we did with Sofia.

We worked with clear mottos to overcome mental blocks, agreed on a nutritional plan, where there were more “allowed” foods than “forbidden” ones, and established training routines, where she could release her tensions and negative thoughts.

Time heals everything, but you must help it. As did Sofia, who today has a healthy relationship with food, her body, and her surroundings.

Therefore, if you feel that you eat because of anxiety rather than hunger, do not move from there, because I will explain:

  • Differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger.
  • How to identify what generates emotional eating habits.
  • Some ways to leave behind the compulsion for food.

How to differentiate emotional hunger from physical hunger

Before you can free yourself from the emotional eating cycle, you must learn to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. This can be more complicated than it seems, especially if you regularly use food to deal with your feelings.

Emotional hunger can be powerful, but there are some clues that can help you.

  • Emotional hunger appears suddenly. It hits you in an second and you feel overwhelmed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, occurs more gradually. The need to eat is not so serious and doesn´t require instant satisfaction, unless you have not eaten for a long time.
  • Emotional hunger leads you to eat certain types of food. When you are physically hungry, almost everything sounds good, including healthy things like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves junk food. You feel you “need” chocolate or pizza, and nothing else will work.
  • Emotional hunger often leads to meaningless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips without really paying attention or enjoying it at all. When you eat in response to physical hunger, you are generally more aware of what you are doing.
  • Emotional hunger is not satisfied once you are full. You still want more, and more. When you feel physical hunger, you feel satisfied when you have a full stomach.
  • Emotional hunger is not found in the stomach. Instead of a stomach that growls, you feel hunger as a desire that cannot get out of your head. You are focused on specific textures, flavors and smells.
  • Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you are unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you are simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after eating, it is because deep down you know that you are not eating for nutritional reasons.

Now that we can differentiate physical hunger from emotional hunger, let’s look at the triggers that can lead to it.

Reasons why we eat emotionally, almost without realizing it

The first step to stop eating compulsively is to identify the reasons that lead us to do so. What situations or feelings trigger your desire to eat?

Stress: Have you noticed how stress makes you hungry? It is not only in your mind. When stress is chronic, as often happens in our chaotic and accelerated world, your body produces high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet and fried foods, foods that give you an explosion of energy and pleasure. The less you control stress, the more likely you are to rely on food to get that emotional relief you are looking for.

Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or calm down, negative emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you get numb with food, you feel that you can take away those feelings that overwhelm you. But, at the end of the day, you will face the inevitable: awkward emotions are still there.

Boredom or emptiness feelings: Have you ever eaten simply to do something, relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel dissatisfied and empty, and food is a way to occupy your time.

Childhood habits: think about your childhood. Did your parents reward your good behavior with ice cream, did they take you to eat pizza when you got good grades, did they give you candy when you felt sad?

If you are depressed or alone, call someone who makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or go for a walk in the park.

If you are anxious, spend your energy dancing your favorite song, squeezing an anti stress ball or taking a quick walk.

If you’re exhausted, have a cup of hot tea, take a hot bath and light some scented candles.

If you’re bored, read a good book, watch your favorite series on Netflix, or do an activity you enjoy.

And above all, do not miss the tips I offer below.

Tips to stop eating... emotionally!

Now that we know how to differentiate physiological hunger from emotional hunger, and that we can even know what originates it, it is also important to have a clear concept: when there is emotional hunger it is NOT about stopping eating, it is about eating what is right and the right amount of it.

But make no mistake, diets that restrict carbohydrates too much usually lead to failure and overeating foods that we shouldn’t touch.

Why does this happen? The reason is our response to insulin. Since low carbohydrate intake causes our blood sugar to drop significantly, our brain creates a desire to eat in order to stabilize blood sugar levels and replenish glycogen stores.

This, linked to the emotional tensions of our daily lives, such as stress, sadness, anger, worry, or even sleep, will make inevitable to fall into temptation.

So there are several important lessons to learn here:

1.- Include carbohydrates in your diet to keep blood sugar levels controlled.

2.- Modify your beliefs to improve your emotions, everything has a solution!

3.- Make five or six small meals a day.

More than three hours between meals decreases your blood sugar levels, and you´ll need sugars or refined foods to create high insulin spikes. But this will only create an unnecessary addiction for this type of food.

That is why it is important to make 5 or 6 meals a day of small portions and that your main meals include unprocessed carbohydrates and high in fiber: oatmeal, brown rice, legumes, fruits. Served along with vegetables and proteins, will generate greater satiety.

4.- Add protein into your diet.

If proteins are present in your main meal, for example, salmon, turkey breast, chicken breast, eggs, quinoa, veal and lentils, you will have your appetite controlled. Your need to eat is going to adapt quietly to 3 or 4 hours intervals without making you feel uncomfortable.

5.- Make physical exercise a priority in your life.

Physical activity works wonders on your mood and energy levels, and is also a powerful stress reducer.

If you don’t have enough will, you can always count on an online personal trainer.

6.- Try to sleep 8 hours every night.

When you don’t sleep as much as you need, your body craves sugary foods that give you a quick energy boost. Getting enough rest will help control your appetite and reduce cravings.

7.- Take some time to relax.

Give yourself permission to take at least 30 minutes every day to relax. This is your time to take a break from your responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

8.- Connect with others.

Do not underestimate the importance of relationships with your friends and social activities. Spending time with positive people that improve your mood will help protect you from the negative effects of stress.

You don’t always have to behave!

Everything in life is a balance, but definitely 85% of your behaviors are the ones that will have the most impact on you.

If 85% of your routine is healthy, that remaining 15% will not harm you so much. Sometimes it is necessary to get out of the routine a bit and then come back stronger!

As the Roman poet Horacio said: “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero”, which if you do not understand Latin means, “take advantage of the day, do not trust tomorrow.”

It’s time to leave the limiting thoughts behind! If you need help to organize your nutritional plan and your training routine, just let me know.