Avoiding Weight Gain During Stressful Times

February 6, 2021

New studies report that 1/3 of adults in the U.S. say that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to dramatic changes in their good health habits. Today two nutritionists are focusing not on the stress, but on how each of us can increase our stress management skills to support overall health, with weight loss often coming as a result.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. If you're worried that you have gained or are gaining weight during this stressful time… we're definitely so stressed, Britni, with this pandemic and the ongoing at home and working from home. And you're not the only one. I'm hearing it more and more in clinic. In fact, a survey of 8,000 U.S. adults published in the Journal of Obesity found at least a third of adults in the U.S. reported the coronavirus pandemic has led to dramatic changes in their good health habits. Today we want to talk about some of these behaviors and ways that you can avoid weight gain during the pandemic or during any other highly stressful time in your life. Now that you know what we're going to be discussing this morning, I want to introduce myself and our co-host. I’m Melanie Beasley. And I have been a registered dietitian for the past 30 years. One of the joys of my life is sharing the benefits of eating real food with as many of you as possible. I can speak to the benefits of eating real food, both professionally and of course, personally as well. If you read my bio on weightandwellness.com, you'll see that I've had some very serious health problems over the years, myself. So I truly know the value of eating real food for my own health. At Nutritional Weight and Wellness we all believe health is so much more than the number on the scale.

BRITNI: It is so true.

MELANIE: There's so much more.

BRITNI: We have to feel good.

MELANIE: You have to feel good everywhere: head shoulders, knees, and toes.

BRITNI: Absolutely.

MELANIE: It's sad to say, but it is true that many people just focus on their weight and not their overall health. Well, I know that for me, for years and years, this was really important. So I was always looking at what was the scale. What was on the scale; not what was going on internally. Well, joining me this morning, as you can hear her voice is Britni Vincent, who's also a Registered Dietitian. Britni, you also have had some health problems that went away when you switched to eating real food.

BRITNI: Yes.

MELANIE: Very transformative, I understand? So share with us some of your past health struggles with the listeners and how you overcame them.

BRITNI: Well, good morning, everybody. You know, I was in my early twenties and after finishing, well, towards the tail end of finishing school to become a dietitian, I started to have insomnia, migraines. I was really tired. I will never forget; I was at a bar with a group of friends and I like conked out in the, in the booth because I was so tired.

MELANIE: Oh no! Party girl.

BRITNI: And I, it was not from partying. It was just from being so tired.

MELANIE: Exactly.

BRITNI: I was like, oh, I know that's when there's something going on. And I always say, I saw the light finally. And eating real food; I was looking at what I was eating and it was really just processed, low-fat. I mean, everything that I was taught in school, really.

MELANIE: Me too; yup.

BRITNI: And so I made an overhaul of eating more fats, real vegetables, purchasing better quality foods. And then all of a sudden my energy got better. I was sleeping better. I eliminated gluten as well. My migraines basically disappeared and I was feeling great; feeling as you should as a young adult. And I think that a huge, huge, switch that I made was really the fat.

MELANIE: Really?

BRITNI: Because I was not eating those healthy fats. So making sure and getting that tablespoon of butter or olive oil, avocado oil, some nuts, some avocado, I think really made, made a huge difference for me.

MELANIE: Plus it just tastes delicious.

BRTINI: Oh, right? Yeah; so much easier to eat your veggies with some delicious fat on it. And you know, I think that for everybody listening that you can definitely be touched in many different ways of just changing, changing your diet.

MELANIE: So I'm just curious, did you have anxiety that sort of resolved?

BRITNI: I did not.

MELANIE: You did not.

BRITNI: Well, I, the insomnia would be racing thoughts, but other than that, no.

MELANIE: No.

BRITNI: No, but I'm happy that's, that's over. That is not fun. So yeah, understanding the science of nutrition to help to solve a personal problem is so powerful. I think that experiencing these things ourselves just allows us to better help our clients.

MELANIE: It gives us mercy and compassion for everyone who's walking through the door or through Zoom.

BRITNI: Yeah, right?

MELANIE: So, you know, Britni, when you were talking about that, I got to thinking, let's discuss, you know, getting back to our topic, we're discussing ways to avoid weight gain during stressful times. And certainly living in the midst of the pandemic has its own unique and unpredictable stressors, right? But many of us have had other times in our lives that we have also had highly stressful times. So when I was going through cancer, and all the treatments and all the surgeries, I was stressed. And my family was stressed and there are lots of scenarios where we can have tremendous stress. I think the most important thing that we can learn during these stressful times is how we manage our stress, that we have some, we can develop some tools. Today we want to focus not on the stress, but on how each of us can increase our stress management skills. I want us all to focus on the foods and behaviors that increase our stress management skills. The first step is to see that we have the ability to improve our body's, manage, how it manages that stress. Think of it as adding some tools to your toolbox that you can pull from that you have some control in how your body manages stress.

BRITNI: Yeah. And you know, I hear that from clients who really are dedicated to eating real food throughout a stressful time. And they comment, “I am handling this a lot better than I otherwise would be.”

MELANIE: It really is about chemistry and not people's character.

BRITNI: It is. In a survey reported in the Journal of Obesity, included people from different counties, but also from different states in the U.S. And the study found that the coronavirus pandemic for many adults has led to a major decrease in their healthy habits than that they had practiced prior to the pandemic. And the study found two-thirds of people ate more junk food, while only a third ate healthier meals cooked at home. Again, about two-thirds exercised less because gyms were closed, but many rescued dogs and consistently walked their new dog. Some have more anxiety, slept less, where others were able to sleep longer due to less commuting time. Some people viewed the pandemic as a time to cook more healthy meals at home, sleep longer, also to have time for a pet. The study also broke down the results by the different BMI classifications, such as normal weight, overweight and obese.

MELANIE: I read that study and this study, I noted too that the study found the stay at home order had the most negative impact on the individuals in the obese category. Actually they found the anxiety scores increased most dramatically in people with obesity. The people with obesity also gained the most weight during this stay at home order.

BRITNI: So from results of this study, there are many different questions we could ask. Now, number one: do people of normal weight in general practice better healthy habits? Number two: do normal weight people have fewer cravings; find it easier to maintain a healthier eating plan? Number three: do overweight and obese people have more stress in their lives?

MELANIE: Very good questions.

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: Do you have the answers?

BRITNI: Not necessarily, but we're going to talk more throughout this.

MELANIE: So, to answer some of those questions, we want to share some basic lifestyle and eating habits to help you avoid weight gain during stressful times, because I am seeing in clinic, I do see clients who've gained weight who've never had weight problem.

BRITNI: Yes, for sure.

MELANIE: It's stressful and it's, it's a chemical, it's a chemical process. And perhaps another way to live at this time is to find ways you can increase your stress management skills; those tools in your toolbox. That may be a new thought for you. And yes, you can learn and practice certain tricks to manage your stress, whether it's during a pandemic or taking a high school or college exam, whether you're going through a health crisis. And I think it's time to dig into and demystify these tricks. And the first trick to come out of the magical hat is: eat breakfast every day; not just some days. Breakfast is especially important if you have a stressful meeting or a chemistry exam or a presentation, or you've studied all night.

BRITNI: Absolutely. We're going to get back to eating breakfast, but we have to take a break first. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and we are discussing how you can avoid weight gain during stressful times. We'll be right back.

BREAK

MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Many of our clients tell us they need healthy new snack ideas. So we decided to share a couple with you today. Make an egg salad with celery and expeller-pressed safflower mayo or avocado mayo. Then place a scoop of the egg salad into half of a red pepper; love this snack. I love deviled eggs as well. So my favorite is our salmon patty recipe. That's in the Weight and Wellness Way Cookbook and Nutrition Guide. It's also on our website, weightandwellness.com. And add a variety of raw vegetable vegetables too. And you can dip in some mayo. And then you've got this really nice balanced out snack. So stay tuned and we will give you additional snack ideas. I have to say, I love that. I, I never tried it until, pre pandemic. One of our front desk staff gals was eating it and I thought, “Oh, I want to try this.”

MELANE: And she goes, “Oh, get a fork.” I tried it. I was like, it is so delicious, but we're looking at the ingredients I thought, “Meh”. It wasn't what I wanted to make. Now I make it. You can just plop it, cook it and then take those patties and freeze them. They freeze great.

BRITNI: Nice.

MELANIE: Yeah, so…

BRITNI: Easy.

MELANIE: It’s awesome. So stay tuned because we're going to have more of these ideas.

BRTINI: Yes, we are.

MELANIE: And I think it's time to dig in, too, and demystify these tricks that we have. The first trick to come out in the magical hat was to eat breakfast every day. So Britni, what'd you have for breakfast?

BRITNI: I had a leftover hamburger patty at 6:30 this morning and some mayonnaise and, for something quick, I had part of an apple. Yeah.

MELANIE: Wonderful. You got it done. It wasn't fancy.

BRITNI: I got it done.

MELANIE: My husband always makes eggs for me. He always gets up when I have the radio show.

BRITNI: Nice.

MELANIE: And so a couple eggs and I also do half of an apple with a little sun butter.

BRITNI: Yum.

MELANIE: Good; easy.

MELANIE: Yeah; got it done.

BRITNI: Exactly.

MELANIE: Early in the morning for us, right?

BRITNI: And we’re feeling good for the radio show.

MELANIE: Feeling good for the radio show. And you don't tank out. Your energy is good.

BRITNI: Exactly. You know, and I always tell my clients breakfast really sets the tone for the day. You are going to feel better having a balanced breakfast, and then you're naturally going to make healthier choices because you're starting the day with a balanced blood sugar. It really makes the world of a difference.

MELANIE: The key to that balance blood sugar is like I had the eggs, the protein, and you had the hamburger patty that had protein, and that kind of anchors not only your blood sugar, but also begins the process of making those brain chemicals, the neurotransmitters for us that helps us with our day.

BRITNI: Yeah. I have absolutely recognized I need enough protein in the morning just to feel good the entire day. So I need at least three ounces to, to get me started. And I think that, you know, a lot of people aren't in the habit of taking the time to, you know, make a breakfast. You're after something easy. So you might sit down, pour your favorite dry cereal in a bowl until the bowl is full.

MELANIE: Always.

BRITNI: You know, not a cup of cereal; several cups of cereal. But that may be inviting obesity or anxiety to come for a visit. There have been many studies demonstrating that high-carb, high-sugar diets often lead to anxiety and obesity. So what could be happening when you eat a big bowl of breakfast cereal, which could easily have 81 grams of carbs? Well, when you consider how high carb that is and how high sugar foods affect your brain chemistry, it's very likely this unhealthy breakfast is causing a reduction in your serotonin level. And serotonin is one of most important neurotransmitters. You can think of neurotransmitters as feel-good brain chemicals. And serotonin helps to make us happy, calm, less anxious, more focused; all things that we, that we need, right?

MELANIE: If you could just have a cup of serotonin. But the next step: we can’t just buy a cup of serotonin, is that protein.

BRITNI: Exactly.

MELANIE: So important. And we know a diet high in processed carbs raises blood sugar level above normal, and then the pancreas produces excess insulin, leading to people being overweight or obese. So when we say processed carbs, think of the foods that come from a factory versus the farm. Cereal is one. There is no cereal bush.

BRITNI: No, there's not.

MELANIE: Another interesting fact is obesity is associated with having more anxiety. One study found that obese people have a 25% increased risk of suffering from mood and anxiety disorders. Additionally, chronic stress can also increase the fat stored in the abdominal area and around our organs. It is also an increased risk for type-two diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, so many risk factors we want our clients to avoid.

BRITNI: Absolutely. And that's often a question I ask a new client. If weight loss is one of their goals, asking them where their, where they have gained weight; where they're storing it, because that can indicate to us hormonally what could be going on. And I'm sure you can agree, but I'm hearing more and more people are storing in their abdomen: that stress. And then also, you know, eating more of the processed carbs increases the insulin resistance. So it can really be twofold.

MELANIE: You know, when you mentioned earlier, we talked about if you have that bowl of cereal and maybe skim milk, possibly some sugar sprinkled on top, it raises that blood sugar. And when your blood sugar goes higher than the body wants it to, it really is a stressful event internally. And when we have that stressful event internally, we're increasing our stress levels.

BRITNI: Yep.

MELANIE: So that's a simple tool really.

BRITNI: It is. And you know, our body doesn't know the difference between that stressor of eating cereal or the stress from COVID.

MELANIE: Oh, good point.

BRITNI: We respond to it the same way. So keeping that in mind, and again, we have control of everything we're putting in our mouth. So if that can impact stress that much, we really need to take control of that.

MELANIE: It's nice to have control over a few things. And that is one of them.

BRITNI: Yeah, absolutely. You know, and if you're an adult or teen who starts your day with a large bowl of cereal, your anxiety level can certainly increase. And like we've been saying, you can easily gain weight. That high sugar breakfast may not be cereal. Maybe it's a Pop-Tart and orange juice or a latte, a sugared latte with a giant muffin. Up goes your blood sugar level. And then two hours afterwards, you crash. You know, just ask yourself, how are you feeling a couple hours after eating a breakfast like that? Tired? Less focused? Maybe you're crabby. You're probably hungry and you're craving more carbs or sugar, because your body wants that quickest pick-me-up. And so then you probably have, again, more carbs or sugar. So then you're off with that rollercoaster for the day.

MELANIE: You know, you know, Britni, when you say that, I think about, I was eating low-fat cereal and low-fat sugar. And I think eating protein and eating this way and not having that yo-yo high blood sugar, low blood sugar, I'm a nicer woman. I am not having the crash because when your blood sugar crashes, I mean, everything gets on your nerves. Nobody's driving properly. So it's just, I’m, I feel like a nicer person. And I had a client say the other day, “Oh my goodness. My husband said to me, I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it.” Because she said he would chew too loudly. So it definitely affects not only our neurotransmitters, but how we feel just from hour to hour.

BRITNI: It is so true.

MELANIE: If you have…

BRITNI: It is time for break already. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Next Tuesday, February 9th, chef, Marianne will be sharing her cooking knowledge and skills on this virtual Zoom cooking class. This class starts at 6:00 PM and Marianne will show you how to make healthy comfort food. You definitely do not want to miss this great class, so to sign up call (651) 699-3438, or go online to weightandwellness.com.

BREAK

MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. To honor heart health month, we're offering 15% off all Nutrikey’s Omega-3, CoQ10 and DHA. We now have three different heart healthy options of omega-3: the Omega-3 1,000, Omega-3 Extra Strength and the Omega-3 Extra Strength Liquid, which is so nice for people who have difficulty swallowing pills. We have two options of CoQ10: the CoQ10-100 and the CoQ10-200. We also have DHA-200, the fatty acid for brain health. I love this one because it doesn't have fish in it; so for our clients that are allergic to fish. Each one of these is 15% off during the heart health month of February.

BRITNI: And that, that DHA is also really good for eye health too. And I know we have an article on our website that talks more in detail about these products, too, if you want more.

MELANIE: That’s a great place. If you go to weightandwellness.com, search in the search engine anything you have going on, whether it be eye health or pregnancy or anxiety, and you get a plethora of information, recipes, podcasts, that you can learn more about what's going on with you.

BRITNI: It’s a wonderful, wonderful resource.

MELANIE: Yes. And the recipes are great. Well, when we went to break, we were talking about how stress, a stressful meal made of processed foods can create that internal stress. If you have a presentation to give or a final exam, or you're going to a radio show, your anxiety level may be significantly higher. So high anxiety or increased stress leads to excess cortisol. And high cortisol leads to weight gain. A simple breakfast of a turkey patty with green beans and half a cup of carrots sautéed in butter with a cup of tea or coffee with cream leads to a normal blood sugar level, no weight gain; no anxiety. And you're all set for whatever you have ahead of you: your presentation, your radio show. Like Britni said, it just sets the tone for the day. So to be calm and anxiety free for the radio show today, that's what I ate; a real food breakfast, lots of protein, vegetables, and some natural fats. Simply said, a breakfast of real protein, real vegetables, real fat builds your stress management skills and it reduces your risk of developing obesity. So when I say real food, again, we're not talking about food that necessarily has been processed that has a multitude of ingredients. We're talking about simple food you can find in nature.

BRITNI: Exactly; at any grocery store.

MELANIE: Any grocery store.

BRITNI: And you know, I have some clients that just aren't super hungry for breakfast, but they're really loving those warm smoothies that we have on our website.

MELANIE: Yes. You developed one of those.

BRITNI: Yeah. We have an apple pie one and then a chocolate one.

MELANIE: Yes.

BRITNI: So that can be a great option too. And when it's so cold out, it's nice to sit and enjoy something warm.

MELANIE: It’s a really great way. We've also got some really good healthy muffin recipes.

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: So sometimes if you're tired of the eggs at breakfast, or you just don't want to face protein, like a hamburger patty.

BRITNI: Yep. I make those a lot. And they freeze really, really well too. And you can put different fruit them. I've made a zucchini version; lots and lots of different options.

MELANIE: Love it.

BRITNI: Yeah. You know, there is another interesting study conducted in 2019 with approximately 38,000 people who suffered from depression found that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like pop, energy drinks, sugary coffee drinks, put people at a higher risk for depression. They found if people drank two cans of pop a day, it increased their risk of having depression by 25%. It's a lot.

MELANIE: That is a lot.

BRITNI: That the more pop they drank, the higher the risk for depression.

MELANIE: That is so interesting.

BRITNI: It is.

MELANIE: So you think that you're just having a beverage or a small can. I have a client who says, “Well, I just have a small can.” So when we finally eliminated that one small can of Coke, her anxiety improved.

BRITNI: Wow.

MELANIE: So we see it in clinic all the time.

BRITNI: I had a client. She drank Diet Coke for decades and decades, and she had anxiety for decades and decades. And finally, we got her off the Diet Coke. It was very difficult for her, but her anxiety dramatically improved. And she was able to start lowering her dosage of her medication. And both of us are convinced it was the Diet Coke.

MELANIE: The Diet Coke. So people that are thinking they're saving themselves from a lot of problems by going with the Diet Coke, there's still a lot of those chemicals and artificial sweeteners.

BRITNI: And I know we're going to talk more about that in a little bit too.

MELANIE: Yeah. So you may be thinking, “How does sugar cause depression anyway?” We know the brain needs a little glucose or sugar to function. I emphasize “a little”. So in 24 hours, the brain needs about 62 grams of glucose, which can easily be... we get from eating fruit, vegetables breaks down; anything that has a carbohydrate value breaks down to glucose. And if you consume muffins or donuts or soda or candy or cookies, you can flood that brain with too much sugar. And this excess sugar can lead to brain inflammation, which can result in depression and anxiety.

BRITNI: You know, we hear over and over during this pandemic how teens are really struggling with depression and young adults are struggling with depression. Seniors are struggling with depression. And perhaps we need to look more at what people are eating and how it relates to their level of depression. In a study conducted in 2018 with, with 15,500 adults, they found the people who were depressed ate the most processed carbs, such as bread, French fries, muffins, chips, and crackers. On the other hand, the people who ate vegetables, berries, kidney beans, lentils had the lowest risk for developing depression. So the same could be said for avoiding weight gain during these stressful times. What is good for the brain is also good for the body.

MELANIE: Yeah. We're a package. We have to care of the whole, whole body. Okay, now let's talk about those artificial sweeteners that we mentioned. The artificial sweeteners have significant impact on our health and our brains. Aspartame, also called NutraSweet, and sucralose, also is Splenda. For example, one study found that people who consumed artificial sweeteners also used in diet drinks are more depressed than people who don't consume diet drinks. An interesting study in 2017 on aspartame found that aspartame in diet soda blocks the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine, and also serotonin and a whole host of other ones. So do artificial sweeteners help with weight loss? There certainly are mixed reviews here. I like a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. These researchers looked at 37 different studies on artificial sweeteners to see if they helped people lose weight. They concluded that artificial sweeteners did not appear to help people lose weight. They added that people who drink one or more artificial-sweetened beverages a day had a high risk of health issues, such as weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Our recommendation is to leave the soda at the store and choose filtered water instead. For weight loss, we suggest drinking eight to 10 glasses of filtered water every day: plain, filtered water; nothing in it.

BRITNI: So let's talk about how do people get off the pop?

MELANIE: Yeah, because it can be very addicting.

BRITNI: It is. It is. And what I would think about is what are you looking, what are you after when you're drinking pop? Is it the caffeine? Is it the fizzy, the sweet? And that can help you to find a replacement. For a lot of people just switching to water might not cut it.

MELANIE: Exactly.

BRITNI: And I always think, and this is a really good example, to use the idea of worse, better, best. So of course pop is, you know, the worst option. So if we could move to, you know, an unsweetened iced tea or even a pop sweetened with stevia is a better choice.

MELANIE: Yep.

BRITNI: They are. And then eventually you can move to just basically drinking that plain water.

MELANIE: I like that. It's like sticking your toe in the, in the lake and it's cold. And you have to gradually get there. Some people, and you have to evaluate who you are, listeners. Are you someone that does cold turkey better or are you someone that sticks your toe in the water, lets it acclimate, and then you move a little deeper, a little deeper? So pick what works for you to sort of start weaning off of that soda. Maybe make that your goal this week. How am I going to wean off soda?

BRITNI: Yup.

MELANIE: If that's, if that's your issue.

BRITNI: Yep.

MELANIE: So I think it's important for us to make these small changes. So we hear about it on the radio show. You hear about it and then you start to make small changes so you're not overwhelmed.

BRITNI: Exactly. Yeah. If you try to do it all for most people, it's just too much; too overwhelming and then you don't end up doing any of it.

MELANIE: So that's my challenge. If you're a listener and you listen to our radio shows, is ask yourself, what is the one piece I take away from what Nutritional Weight and Wellness is telling me? What is the one piece I'm going to work on this week?

BRITNI: Yep.

MELANIE: Then you hear the radio show the following week and then you decide, what's the next thing that I'm going to do?

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: Makes it easier.

BRITNI: And if it's not, if you're not a pop drinker, maybe you focus on breakfast, cause like we were talking about, you're going to feel better just switching up your breakfast.

MELANIE: I also challenge listeners, if they have protein powders, roll it over, read the ingredients and check for the sucralose and the aspartame. Another one is acesulfame K. You want to check for these artificial sweeteners in everything. They’re thrown in, in a lot of things, even your, you know, some vitamins.

BRITNI: Yeah. That's a very, very good point. You know, and it is time for our last break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are pleased to announce that we are offering our offering our signature Weight and Wellness series virtually starting February 17th. In this series, you will learn how to follow an anti-inflammatory diet to support your energy, boost your moods, to decrease your achy joints and muscles. And it is such a great series and has always been very well received and highly recommended for anybody. And you can sign up at weightandwellness.com or call us at (651) 699-3438.

MELANIE: We’ll be right back.

BREAK

MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. In our Weight and Wellness series, we always talk about developing an attitude of wellness. Well, what does that really mean?

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: We, as nutritionists, we know cardiovascular disease, cancer and type-two diabetes are all considered diseases of inflammation. On many of our shows, we've connected sugar and processed carbs to be the major cause of inflammation. So we encourage you to develop an attitude of wellness. I think you deserve it. And follow an anti-inflammatory diet at least 90% of the time. And you may be asking, “How do I do that?” Well take the Weight and Wellness series or perhaps learn more from the skills from chef, Marianne, by taking one of those classes, or make an appointment with one of us. We would love to see you. And, or follow up with your favorite dietitian or nutritionist. So if you have any questions, please call us at (651) 699-3438 and a real live person will answer the phone and talk to you and help you. So when we were leaving for commercial break, we were talking about ways that we can decrease cortisol, inflammation, balance that blood sugar. And we talked about breakfast. But what happens when your jonesing for a snack and you've gone longer than three to four hours without eating? And suddenly you want to grab that box of crackers, the muffins that you made for the family, a candy bar, that soda, because you're so hungry.

BRITNI: Yes.

MELANIE: Britni, what do you do for snacks?

BRITNI: Well, I think sometimes thinking of them as little mini meals can be helpful because when a lot of people think of snacks, it is all of those things that you listed and chips and all of that. So it could just be, a lot of times I will do a smaller amount of leftovers. So if I had chili, I would just do a little bit of chili with some, some fat on top: avocado or something, or chicken legs are super easy to make in the Crock-Pot or just bake. I like to bake them; get them a little crispier. And then raw vegetables. I gravitate towards the veggies that you don't have to cut up. So the mini cucumbers or mini peppers, snap peas, and then you could do a dip. We have like a homemade ranch dip on our website. We have a new one: an olive tapenade; love that. So especially those of you that are dairy free, that would be a great option; or guacamole or avocado.

MELANIE: Yum.

BRITNI: And then those chicken legs: I think they're delicious cold. So it's just a grab-and-go snack option.

MELANIE: Yeah. And one of the things that is works really great is a, you know, a nitrate-free MSG-free beef stick.

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: Turkey stick: those are easy. You can even have them in your desk drawer if you're really booked for time.

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: And then throw in maybe a handful of carrots and some hummus.

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: So it, it, it it's whatever is going to work that you can, they have the individual guacamole's you can dip your vegetables in that you just peel back. And one of my favorite snacks is I take a protein smoothie recipe. We've got a plethora of them on our website, and half of that. You can put it in a coffee mug. If you're going to a meeting or “Zooming”, it looks like you're just having your coffee, but you've got that snack at the ready to balance a blood sugar, so that when you're off of that Zoom call or that meeting, you're not looking for the box of crackers.

BRITNI: Yeah. So I would think, I mean, a lot of times the cravings hit mid-afternoon, right? And then…

MELANIE: Especially after dinner.

BRITNI: Yup, after dinner; and I think that now that most people are working from home, I'm finding that more and more people are going even longer without eating, I think because they're not prompted by their coworkers. So, you know, a client this week: we decided she needed to set a reminder in her phone for, I think her craving started at three. So she set a reminder for 2:30. So she got ahead of those.

MELANIE: I love that because we always have our phones.

BRITNI: Yup; yup; cause a lot of times we're busy and we don't think about it until, “Oh my gosh. I'm starving. I need to eat.”

MELANIE: “And I'm crabby.”

BRITNI: Yeah. And it's, it's too late. It's hard to catch up. So having that afternoon snack at a timely time will also help to prevent those evening cravings too.

MELANIE: I love that. And then also making sure that you're having a good, solid lunch because I find after lunch, people do pretty well until lunch. And it seems like it's after lunch that things kind of become unraveled. So, you know, you go back and we ask our clients, what are you eating at lunch? What was the protein that you had? And did you have a good four ounces of protein? Did you have the vegetables with the fiber that helps, helps with satiety? And did you have some healthy fat with it? And so keeping on task with prepping some food that's at the ready is really the biggest challenge. And that's what we try to walk through. What's the easy way for you to do it if you have a busy family? We problem solve with our clients all the time.

BRITNI: That’s what we do.

MELANIE: Good old-fashioned celery and peanut butter.

BRITNI: Yeah, exactly. Easy; easy.

MELANIE: Not a, not a problem as far as coming up with ideas for our clients.

BRITNI: And I think we talked about this earlier, but you know, we are stuck at home. So taking this opportunity to spend a little bit more time cooking, you know, freezing things. And then it's going to get you into the habit when you do go back to work.

MELANIE: Starting in the morning by throwing something in your Crock-Pot. And if the morning doesn't work for you, put it in the Crock-Pot, put your Crock-Pot in the fridge, you know, and then plug it in, turn it on low. And then the smell of it will remind you there's good food making that I need to address because eventually you have to take it out of the Crock-Pot. And so it just makes it easier. I have two Crock-Pots I keep going all the time. Sometimes I'm throwing in a spaghetti squash I poked holes in with a little water, and the other one might have a meal, you know, that, that's ready to go; doing Crock-Pots. That works for me.

BRITNI: And I know we have, we have more, Crock-Pot ideas on our website as well.

MELANIE: And pan meals.

BRITNI: Yes, sheet pan meals.

MELANIE: Sheet pan meals; so easy.

BRITNI: So how do you avoid weight gain during stressful times? Now I believe many people know when they eat real food, protein from grass-fed animals or variety of vegetables, those natural fats like butter, olive oil, avocado, three to four times a day, they certainly avoid weight gain. But it also helps them to avoid depression and anxiety or helps to improve their depression and anxiety. You know, knowing and doing are two completely different things. The knowing is the easy part, right? And the reality is just because someone may know does not mean that they're going to do; so in order to do, most people need support, encouragement, and frankly, accountability.

MELANIE: They do. Everybody needs a team.

BRITNI: Absolutely. You know, this week somebody said, you know, every Wednesday her and her brother are weighing in and sharing in their weigh-in. So they are each other's support buddy.

MELANIE: I love that.

BRITNI: And that's getting them through this, this health journey.

MELANIE: That's great.

BRITNI: Great idea. And, you know, other ideas; if you are a person who needs this encouragement, taking Nutrition for Weight Loss or joining chef, Marianne, in a cooking class, meeting with your dietitian or nutritionist. You know, many of my clients, we just have several appointments booked out every two weeks, every month, because they know that that's what they need for their health. And these are self-care appointments and classes that will support your personal weight, your health goals, keep you on track, you know, with like-minded people too.

MELANIE: It’s so much easier in a group.

BRITNI: It is.

MELANIE: Or to have a team member or someone that supports you. And I feel like it's critical for people to have that buddy system, because whether it be through Zoom or whether it be through your nutritionist appointments or whether it be through a family member, a group of friends, it makes a big difference in how well you're doing to have… the accountability sounds so harsh like someone's going to take you to task. But everybody needs a buddy.

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: And, you know, we're isolated a little bit more and we don't have that social support. So it's one more way also to get social support.

BRITNI: Yeah.

MELANIE: Because times are difficult.

BRITNI: They are very difficult and we're here to support you and, and get you to reaching those goals.

MELANIE: Because wouldn't it be great, you know, everything opens up and you come out a new you instead of a pandemic you.

BRITNI: Yeah. Yeah.

MELANIE: People are frustrated right now. So I feel like it's critical for our listeners to take away that it's important that you, we learn how to manage stress and food is a huge piece.

BRITNI: It really is. You know, our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's simple, yet a powerful message. Eating real food is life-changing. Thank you so much for joining us.  Be safe, be well, and be warm.

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