Increased stress, a constant flow of bad news, and being stuck inside all day has kicked wellness to the wayside. Jessica Werre, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, shares advice for getting back on track with healthy eating, exercise, and a balanced lifestyle.
Balance Is Key
Our diet should consist of 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, whole grains, lean proteins, beans/legumes, dairy and dairy alternatives, and lots of water. Cutting back on foods with added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat is good, but Werre suggests allowing everything in moderation. Forbidden foods often become more desirable.
To help ensure balance, plan before you head to the grocery store. With fewer shopping trips lately, it’s smart to get a mix of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried foods.
Listen to Your Body
With the kitchen in close proximity, overeating is easy to do. To help curb that habit, be in tune with your body. Eat slowly to allow your body time to realize it’s full. Cut out distractions while you eat. No phone, TV, or computer.
“Ask yourself, ‘Am I physically or mentally hungry?’” Werre said. “Listening to the body’s hunger and fullness cues is the best way to ensure you’re eating what your body needs.”
In today’s diet-driven culture, extremes are all the rage: no carbs, no sugar, 18-hour fasts. This is a ticket for failure, Werre said. Start by setting a small goal, accomplish it, then set another.
“Take it slow with behavior change,” she said. “Analyze your habits to see where you can make a minor improvement, manage it for 2 to 3 weeks, and once that is conquered move on to the next.”
A great tip: Don’t focus on deprivation of certain foods, but on what to add to your diet, especially fruits and vegetables.
Steps, Steps, Steps
For the work-from-homers, it’s easy to sit all day. Carve out 30 minutes, 5 days a week for exercise and make it a routine, Werre said. Online workout videos are a great resource, but your workout doesn’t have to be sweat dripping. Gardening, walking, or even housework is effective too.
Wellness Not Weight
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is incredibly stressful and so is weight gain. Increased stress can impact mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels — all factors that influence eating and exercise habits. Focus on wellness, not the number on the scale.
“Self-care activities can help mitigate stress and steer us away from using food as a stress reliever,” Werre said. “Read a book, do a craft, take a bath, or go for a walk.”
It’s about finding what works for you: no extremes, a balanced diet, an exercise routine, and taking care of you.