Over the course of the last year, the COVID-19 virus has dominated our routines and lifestyles. For many, the virus means staying home. Add on the holidays and leftover treats, and you may be putting on extra pounds.
Hillary Lauren, Well-Being Coordinator for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says, "It’s not unusual to reach for snacks when bored, stressed or distracted. Particularly, when there are so many tempting items around with the holiday season..."
Lauren says paying a little attention to our body's signals can make it easier to distinguish real hunger from psychological hunger. "This psychological hunger is a desire to eat without the physical signs that our body truly needs food.”
Lauren also says there are healthy ways to avoid too many snack hunting expeditions to the pantry or refrigerator. “First, do a mental check in with yourself, and think about whether you’re actually hungry. Did you recently eat a meal? What emotions are you feeling right now? And, are you feeling true hunger pain or belly growling?”
Other helpful tips include moving around as you contemplate whether or not you are truly hungry. You can also drink a glass of water and wait 15-20 minutes to see if you are still hungry. You should also consider what may have triggered your food cravings.
Lauren says,“This can be caused by a variety of factors such as boredom, thirst, lack of sleep, stress, being around people that are eating and smelling the food, or watching TV or scrolling through social media and seeing images of food.”
Other tips include keeping a food journal, brushing your teeth, sipping cinnamon or peppermint tea, keeping unhealthy snacks out of site and having lots of fruits and vegetables on hand.
If you do grab a snack Lauren says, "Choose to eat mindfully. Really savor your food and eat slowly. Again, wait 10 to 20 minutes before having another serving, as it takes about 20 minutes for brain to pick up the signal from your belly that it’s full.”
As we spend more time at home in an effort to flatten the COVID curve, it can be easy to fatten our waistlines. Lauren says if you are struggling with snacking, don't be afraid to ask for help.
"If you ever feel like you’re out of control with food or if you’re using food to control your emotions, please do seek professional help. There are many people out there who are more than willing and happy to provide you the support you need.”