IGTV Expert Chat: Weight Management During the Pandemic with Joan Salge Blake

By Hannah Follman with expert advice from Joan Salge Blake
Updated on 17. Mar. 2021
Maintaining Weight during the Pandemic Expert: Joan Salge Blake
Maintaining Weight during the Pandemic Expert: Joan Salge Blake

As COVID-19 continues, Joan Salge Blake a Registered Dietitian and a Clinical Professor of Nutrition at Boston University gives Eat Smarter her advice on managing weight during the pandemic.

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As COVID-19 continues, Joan Salge Blake a Registered Dietitian and a Clinical Professor of Nutrition at Boston University gives Eat Smarter her advice on managing weight during the pandemic. Check out her recent Q&A with EatSmarter! You can watch our chat here.

What foods should you include in your diet if you are trying to lose weight?

This whole idea of being hunkered down and having you cook more in the kitchen is actually very good for your weight. We know that when you eat out at restaurants, the portions tend to be bigger, and the meals tend to be lower in fruits and vegetables, which is not good. They also tend to be higher in added sugars and fat, so the calories go up. By being home more often and having better control over what you cook and how much you're cooking, it can be better for your weight. 

One of the most important things that you can do for your waist is what you put on your plate. For all of your meals make half of your plate vegetables. Vegetables are very full of fiber and water, so they are going to fill you up before they fill you out. This is really important. When you go to restaurants you get very few vegetables and too much meat and too many grains. So, flip it now that you're home and make half of your plate vegetables. 

What are the best vegetables to include in your diet? 

The number one thing, the motivator for eating is taste. Go with the ones that you like to eat. There's no sense if you don't like brussel sprouts to start eating brussel sprouts. You can get frozen, and you can get canned vegetables, not just fresh. They are all equally as good in nutrition and they all equally good in fiber and low in calories.

Do frozen vegetables have the same nutrients as fresh vegetables? 

They have exactly the same. Now we often hear fresh is best but that's not always the case. You could be the type of person, and I'm sure everybody has done this, when you go shopping you get fresh broccoli and when you come home you take the fresh broccoli and you open the refrigerator and you put it in the vegetable bin, at the bottom of the refrigerator, which I call the produce graveyard. Then you forget that you bought the broccoli. Then you pull it out, and all of a sudden it has been there too long and it's no longer a vibrant green but rather it's a combat green. It is wilted and a lot of the vitamins, especially the water-soluble vitamins, have deteriorated. It’s still good to cook and you should, but don't assume fresh is always best. 

When it comes to cooking vegetables, you want to cook them the least amount of time in the least amount of water. You want to preserve those water-soluble vitamins. 

What is your advice about finding a balance between healthy eating and working out? 

You want to do both. Working out is something that you need to do. Now that we are all hunkering down, and on social media, or zoom meetings, it is really good for you to get some movement in. When the weather is good, go for a walk. If you used to commute to school or work, you save that commuting time. Let's not waste that commuting time and use that to go outside to walk. What you may want to do is get up and move for five minutes every hour. You can set a timer on your computer or on your phone. If you're stuck in a zoom meeting, and it's a big zoom meeting, and you don't really need to have the camera on, take the camera off. Why don't you move in your room or your home office, while you are listening to the meeting? You don't have to sit there, you can still absorb what is being said, but you could be walking around the room, you could be dancing, you could just get up and move. Don't assume that when you're on that you have to be on all the time. Rather, shut off the video and start moving in your office. If you do that for five to ten minutes every hour for half the day you will have an hour's worth of movement. 

You have to remember that you were moving in your pre-COVID life. You were moving to get to the car, even if you were driving to school or work, you still had a walk to get your car. Now the home office is next to the home kitchen which is next to the home bathroom, so there's no movement going on here. We have to make sure that we get some movement throughout the day. 

What are your thoughts on taking cheat days?

When you take an exam and you get a 90, you get an A. Translate that to everyday life, if 90% of the time your diet is healthy do I really care about the other 10%? Rather than saying I have cheat days, why don't you just say, every day I'm going to have a little bit of something that I like. I'm not going to eat the whole pint of ice cream and eat a whole box of Girl Scout cookies, but I'm going to have a little bit of what I want. You don't have to be 100% perfect when you're eating, just get the A and you still get it at 90%. 

For the full interview, watch it on our Instagram IGTV Series linked here.

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