6 Habits That Can Help You Lose Lockdown Weight (and 5 That Won’t)

As people emerge from isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are taking a fresh look at their eating habits that they have maintained for the past year and a half. Some people have actually improved their diets during this time, while others have hit the now infamous “Quarantine 15”.

Regardless of your current situation, it’s not too late to start adopting some of the good lockdown habits that can help you lose weight. Other eating habits that emerged from the pandemic – the ones that led to weight gain – can affect your healthy eating habits in the long run if you don’t address them now. Monica Reinagel, LDN, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Licensed Nutritionist, and Change Academy’s Podcast host, offers expert advice on the nutritional habits you might want to adopt in the future and which are best left behind.

Healthy habits

1. Breakfast

Many office workers switched to home office arrangements during the pandemic to help them get away from the morning commute. And if you’ve ever had a schedule where you had to race through early school leavers and battle the traffic to get to your desk on time, you know breakfast is often the first thing to be cut off a morning routine. “People often give ‘the time is up’ as an excuse for not having breakfast,” says Reinagel.

Without that hectic morning commute, some people spent this time improving their self-care with simple steps like breakfast. And that can help you lose weight. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Nutrition Society in June 2021 found that those who did not eat a morning meal were more likely to consume more sugar, carbohydrates, and total fat as the day progressed. “There are certain things that you want from a healthy diet, such as fiber, which is often preferred at breakfast for the day,” says Reinagel.

2. Homemade lunch

When offices closed because of the pandemic, many were suddenly forced to forego take-out lunch offers – a survey by market research firm Acosta found that 31 percent of people ate lunch at home every day, compared to just 18 percent before COVID – and that may have been a hidden blessing. When researchers rated the nutritional quality of meals consumed in full-service or fast-food restaurants using data from 35,000 Americans between 2003 and 2016, they found that less than 0.1 percent were of ideal quality, based on the American Heart Association 2020 Diet Score on a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in April 2020. As people are increasingly called back to work, packing lunches for the office can help keep the weight in check.

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3. Skip restaurants

Between total closings and restaurant capacity restrictions, many people have eaten out much less often than they used to. From a weight standpoint, this is a clearly positive thing. A study published in January 2016 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that 92 percent of restaurants provide far more calories than you need for each individual meal.

4. Weigh yourself

A tight waistband can signal that you are gaining weight if you wear tight-fitting clothing to work every day. But what if you live in sweats like many people did during the pandemic? Then you have to check in with the bathroom scales. According to a study published in Obesity in February 2015, weighing more often has consistently been linked to better weight results. It’s a good idea to keep it up even after you go back to zippered pants.

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5. Eat whole grains and beans

At the start of the pandemic, people stocked up on long-life ingredients like dried beans and whole grains that could help minimize trips to the grocery store. These are also simply some of the healthiest foods out there. “Consuming these foods more frequently has benefits for intestinal health. Those who eat a lot of it are more likely to have a healthy weight, ”says Reinagel.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in July 2021 found that people who ate three servings of whole grains a day had less waist gains than people who eat little or no whole grains. Now that you may find yourself shopping more often, it is still smart to keep these staples on your list.

6. Cook more

If you’ve spent time on social media during the pandemic, you’ve likely seen a lot more homemade dishes on your feed than ever before. “Day after day, people had to rediscover their ability to prepare meals, and many discovered their enthusiasm for it,” says Reinagel. With few options for off-home entertainment and dining options that are often prohibited, families turned to their home kitchens for both fun and dining.

Home cooking is the king of positive health habits – research has shown that people who normally cook for themselves eat fewer calories and enjoy higher quality diets.

Habits That Can Derail You

1. Grazing and snacking

“For a lot of the people I work with, the work in or next to the kitchen has been tough,” says Reinagel. For those suddenly working from home, the normal meal time sometimes turned into an all-day buffet. It’s easy to grab a handful or a bite of it every time you walk into your home kitchen. Reinagel also notes that there are no social constraints (e.g. not wanting to eat a bag of family-sized chips for lunch in front of a coworker). People were unaware of their snacking habits.

2. Emotional eating

The pandemic brought unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty into people’s lives. If you have finished eating your feelings, you are not alone. “Eating was a constant relief valve for boredom and screen burnout,” says Reinagel.

And research suggests that emotional eaters are 13.38 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than people who don’t use food as a coping tool. Learning different ways to deal with stress and process strong emotions can help you leave an emotional eating pattern behind.

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3. Buy goodies in bulk

In the first few weeks of the lockdown, panicked shoppers cleared the supermarket shelves. “If you played your cards right, you haven’t failed yourself by buying large cans of flavored popcorn and the huge barrel of cheese balls,” says Reinagel. The reality is that a lot of people have done just that. If you still have thousands of Oreos in a shopping club, it may be time to rethink your shopping habits.

4. Misuse of the delivery app

In 2020 there was a sharp increase in the use of food delivery apps. The four leading companies saw combined sales growth of $ 3 billion, MarketWatch reported. A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition in February 2020 sheds light on what people eat when they have dinner delivered through these apps. Some of the most frequently ordered dishes include cheeseburgers, pizzas, nachos, cheesecakes, and baby back ribs – classic calorie bombs that are very likely to ruin any weight loss effort.

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5. Overdo alcohol

A study published in December 2020 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Publish Health found that 60.1 percent of respondents aged 21 and over said they drink more alcohol than before the pandemic. “People tend to underestimate the calories that alcohol adds to their diet,” says Reinagel. “You can easily increase your daily caloric intake by 30 to 40 percent.” Another problem, according to Reinagel? These calories do not contribute to the feeling of satiety, the feeling of satiety and satisfaction you get from food.

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