Most of us are familiar with the Freshman 15, but what about the COVID 15? You know, the weight gain that is plaguing so many during this time of pandemic. Look, it just makes sense that more of us are overeating and gaining weight. You can’t socialize like before, go on vacations and trips. Most events are online like church, meetings, and indoor activities. In some states, it’s just too hot to do much outside. So, what is left? Eating!

Hey, you can even eat during your online meetings! Just turn off your camera, be voice active while diving into that afternoon bowl of ice cream. And TV is getting more boring, so why not spend your night fixing a snack? At least we can gather around a table in the house and eat together. And our big outing is going to the grocery store and trying a number of gourmet meals.

So, if you’ve gained a few COVID pounds by engaging in overeating, it’s time to reset. Here are 10 tips to stop overeating:

  1. Ask, and answer honestly, am I really hungry? If an orange or some carrots and hummus do the trick, it’s probably hunger. If you think you need a specific food, it’s probably a craving. The trick is to tell the difference and only eat out of hunger. Apart from this, is your stomach growling, do you feel weak, is your blood sugar dropping and do you feel lightheaded? Most likely, this is hunger.
  2. Distract yourself. If you can take your mind off food and do something else, you can stop eating. Go out for a walk. Pet the dog. Play a board game.
  3. When you are bored, those brownies on the counter look inviting.  So, don’t buy tempting foods or keep them in sight. Out of sight, out of mind.
  4. If you really can’t resist a food, take a few bites, savor them and push the rest away. This may help satisfy the craving.
  5. Ask, what am I feeling? Boredom, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, stress, etc.? Then determine not to grab a bite, but do something like read to your child, exercise, take a long bath, etc. Break the connection between your feelings and reaching for food.
  6. Tell yourself, “I can eat this food, but do I really want to? How will I feel later?” Give yourself permission to eat, but press pause and decide if that is really what you want to do.
  7. Like in AA, when you want to overeat, call someone or talk to someone instead of eating. That social connection will fill the emotional eating void.
  8. Practice self-compassion. This is a particular difficult time, thus it’s reasonable to think about food more. But thinking about food and deciding to act on eating can be two different things. You have a choice.
  9. The never-ending stress and bad news are causing more impulsive eating. Therefore, purposely focus on gratitude and good things. De-stress other ways like using meditation, prayer, deep breathing and exercise.
  10. Be mindful. You are not a bad person for overeating. You are choosing food to de-stress. This is understandable, but think long term. Thus, change the pattern by being intentional with each time food goes into your mouth. Why am I eating now? Am I hungry? Can I do something else at this moment? And will I feel bad later? Maybe you are just eating more and moving less. That you can change.

Now, enjoy your meals. But think about why you eat when you do. This can be a time of self-reflection that leads to new and better habits. You don’t have to overeat just because you can!

Putting on the COVID 15!

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