Our lives as we’ve known them have been turned upside down by the COVID-19 virus.  There has been a lot of instability. We haven’t been able to go out and do the things we like to do.  We haven’t been able to see the people that we enjoy seeing. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to keep our jobs have had to adjust to a life of working at home, which brings a lot of complexity to our already hectic daily routines.

We’ve all been finding ways to cope with this new life.  It has been easy to turn to quick ways to relieve stress.  Many people have turned to comfort food as a method of feeling better.  And this has led to something we’ve been calling the “COVID 15” or the gaining of additional pounds due to our isolation and stress. 

We’re here to remind people of one healthy eating practice that can be used at any time to curb the feelings of hunger and stress that lead to unhealthy eating practices.  The practice is called “crowding out.” “Crowding out” means getting more out of the calories we put into our body and finding ways to feel more full so we don’t overeat.

We’ve come up with 5 ideas to help you implement a “crowding out” strategy into your daily diet.  Here is our list of ideas:

1) Water

Most Americans don’t drink enough water on a daily basis.  That is one of the main reasons that our bodies end up craving extra food at the end of the day.  Filling your body with water means not filling it with useless calories. And some studies have found that drinking more water on a daily basis can help to boost your metabolism, putting your body in a better place to effectively manage weight.  Increase your water intake on a daily basis to feel more full and help you avoid unnecessary calories.

2) Change Your Breakfast Habits

The average American breakfast is filled with carbohydrates with little nutritional value.  These breakfasts include cereal, bagels, pop tarts, and other sugary pastries. Replace these breakfasts with eggs or oatmeal.  Both of these foods are nutritionally dense and lead to feelings of greater fullness to help you avoid that mid-morning snack. You can also add vegetables and make an omelette to get an even greater “crowd-out” effect from your breakfast.

3) Add Salmon To Your Diet

Our last blog post outlined the health benefits that can be gained from adding salmon to your diet.  Salmon is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the most nutritionally dense foods you can eat.  And some studies have found that fish protein has the strongest effect on satiety of any protein. Salmon is essential to feeling full and being healthy.

4) Rethink Your Snacks

The best advice on this front is to replace cookies and potato chips with popcorn or vegetables.  Popcorn has more fiber and less calories than the potato chip alternative. You can also cut up a cucumber or some bell peppers and eat them with hummus.  Vegetables are more filling because of their water content and hummus will give a filling effect because it’s bean based. Beyond being more filling they will also carry vital nutrients to the body.

5) Avoid Distraction At Dinner

Avoid the television while eating dinner.  Distraction leads to larger portion sizes. Sit down and eat at the table, even if you’re alone.  You’ll find yourself being more aware of what you’re doing and you’ll feel full more quickly. This will help you avoid useless calories at the end of the evening.

“Crowding out” is the most effective strategy you can use to feel healthy and happy and avoid the weight gain that our isolated lives can create.  Once we elevate our health consciousness we can get to the point that we recognize that everything we eat and drink is either feeding disease or improving health outcomes. Then, and only then, we can make intentional fueling decisions.