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Weight gain during Covid? Try spring cleaning your diet

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A recent piece in the New York Times revealed that at the start of the shutdown, many Americans began gaining an average of almost half a pound every 10 days, that translates to almost 2 pounds a month– and if you’re doing the math, that means some folks could have easily gained 20 pounds over the course of the past year.  So much for the quarantine 15!

The spring is the perfect time to address some of the less than healthy lockdown habits that you may have acquired.  While many of us start cleaning our yards and straightening out our living spaces during this time of the year, why stop there?  Why not get a fresh start on improving your eating habits and spring clean your diet? 

Not knowing where to start can be a major stumbling block.  Creating a plan with reasonable goals is a good place to begin.  Focus on lifestyle changes which help far more than any fad diet or promise of a quick fix ever could, especially if you want to lose weight forever—not just right now! 

Look to these tips to help you get started toward good health:

Include protein with every meal.  Protein helps keep you fuller longer.  Good sources include chicken, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, and tofu.

Increase consumption of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Produce in season is more affordable, and has a high nutritional value.  Aim for all the colors of the rainbow, dark leafy greens, yellow, orange, red and blue.

Choose health fats. Monounsaturated fats are heart healthy and help provide satiety.  Think: olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds and avocados.

Choose whole grains. The complex carbs found in whole grains provide the body with fiber and help to keep you satisfied longer. Good sources of whole grains include brown rice, farro, whole grain pasta and oatmeal. 

Limit added sugar. Sugar lurks in many products from beverages to bread as well as salad dressing and condiments.  The current recommendations:  no more than 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of added sugar a day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons or 36 grams per day for men. 

Don’t drink your calories.  Many flavored beverages contain loads of sugar and calories and diet drinks come with additives and chemicals not found in nature.  Water is always the best choice, but if you prefer flavor try seltzer water, fruit infused water or herbal teas. 

Move more. Exercise helps to boost your metabolism and your mood.  If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start with walking and work your way up to including more cardio and strength training.

Have an accountability partner.  Being accountable to someone other than yourself can help you stay on track when your motivation wanes.   A registered dietitian can help you create a sustainable plan and be your built-in accountability buddy. Contact nutrition@waverleyoaks.com to get started today!

Content submitted by Janyce Gately, MS, RD, LDN, CHC