Diet & Nutrition

COVID kilos still hanging around? Here’s how to ditch them

Our resident dietitian, Melissa Meier gives us the in on how to shed those stubborn COVID kilos.

A lot of us saw the scales creep up in 2020 – and while, for the most part, our lives have gone back to normal, those pesky unwanted kilos could still be hanging around.

To help you say goodbye to COVID kilos, for good, here’s my top seven dietitian-approved tips for healthy weight loss.

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1. Pay attention to your portion size

You’ve heard every dietitian under the sun bang on and on about portion size since well, forever, but that’s because it’s probably the most important thing when it comes to weight management. That’s because how much you eat is just as important as what you eat – and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to overdo it. While it’s not necessary to weigh or measure everything you put on your plate, I’d suggest wising up on healthy serve sizes and re-calibrating every now and then.

2. Adopt the healthy plate model

This is a simple rule you can apply to each and every meal to keep kilojoules in check. Simply fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies (think: leafy greens, capsicum, cucumber, pumpkin, cauliflower), a quarter of your plate with lean protein (like fish, chicken or eggs) and a quarter with quality carbs (sweet potato, quinoa or wholegrain bread, for example). This equation will help you strike the perfect balance of energy-giving carbs, hunger-busting protein and good-for-you micronutrients.

3. Cut back on booze

There’s a reason alcohol is called ‘liquid kilojoules’. A glass of wine or bottle of full-strength beer contains over 100 calories a pop – and cocktails can boast far more than that. What’s more, drinking alcohol is not good for your heart health or mental wellbeing, so if you’re a drink-a-day-kind-gal, it’s worthwhile curbing your intake, and not just for your waistline.

4. Pack your lunch

After eating the same old peanut butter toast or tuna melt at home every day in 2020, heading to the food court for lunch in 2021 might still seem like a novelty. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying your lunch every now and then, but eating out every day is a sure fire way to make the scales head in the wrong direction. Takeaway meals are often huge in terms of portion sizes, packed with saturated fat and refined carbohydrates – so it’ll pay to BYO lunch the vast majority of the time.

5. Do a regular sweat sesh

Exercise is critical for weight loss for two main reasons. The obvious one is that it can burn a whole lot of kilojoules. The not-so-obvious one is that exercise builds lean muscle mass – and the more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism works. In case you’re not aware, adults are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every single week – that’s 30 minutes of huff n’ puff exercise most days.

6. Factor in treats

Yep, you read that correctly. Chocolate, hot chips, ice cream, lollies, biscuits… whatever takes your fancy – but not by the bucket load. A small, sensible portion once or twice a week is all you need to make sure you’re not feeling deprived. This is essential for long term weight management, because there’s no place for restriction in a healthy eating plan.

7. Try mindfulness

I know it sounds a bit woo-woo, but hear me out. Mindfulness is the practice of listening to your hunger and satiety cues and paying full attention to all of your senses when you eat. It helps you to identify true hunger and avoid occasions of non-hungry eating – something a lot of us got used to in 2020 when the fridge was almost always within walking distance (hello kilogram creep). So, step away from your computer, turn off the TV and stop scrolling the gram while you’re sitting down to a meal, and you might be surprised by the results.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.