How To Snack Less When Working From Home

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You ate a healthy breakfast and are slowly checking things off today’s work tasks, yet you find yourself going back and forth between the kitchen and office more times than you can count and it’s not even noon. Before you know it, you’ve had a handful of chips, some trail mix, a few bites of last night’s leftovers and now you’re not hungry for lunch.

Working from home makes food very accessible and tempting.

Constant snacking (otherwise known as grazing) is a normal habit when we are not living our normal routine and/or have added stress. Emotions such as anxiety, sadness, boredom, and lethargy can cause us to lean on food for comfort. While it’s a blessing to have the flexibility to work from home with a well-stocked kitchen, it may lead to overeating and feelings of guilt.

While having a snack is an excellent strategy for providing adequate energy and key nutrients to our bodies, snacks are optional between meals. Some of us might be trained to think we have to eat a snack between each meal, but this isn’t always the case.

Our daily routines can change, causing our eating patterns to change. Maybe we used to be more active throughout the day whether that be through exercise, running errands, or walking around the office. Now we find ourselves at home more often and maybe we’re skipping workouts, turning to new forms of exercise, or simply just have less space to move. Whatever the reason might be, our body’s energy needs change in response to our change in routine.

Why am I snacking?

If you think you’re overeating or grazing on too many snacks while at home, first ask yourself “Why am I snacking?” Are you truly hungry? Are you bored or upset and find comfort in food? Are you tempted knowing food is always available? Do you feel tired and low on energy? Do you really need that extra snack? It’s important to recognize the why behind your snacks in order to choose the best solution.

Keep reading the actionable steps for tips on how to snack less and how to choose healthy snacks when you’re truly hungry.




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Actionable Steps


1

Eat well-balanced meals with adequate energy for your body

There’s a reason many health professionals say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast is known to prevent overeating later in the day, help with weight management, and improve overall daily nutrient intake. Assess your main meals and be sure to include enough energy (aka calories) from nutrient-dense foods.

To ensure you are eating a satisfactory meal, use the meal component method. Include a complex carbohydrate (brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta or bread, potatoes, bananas, etc.), non-starchy fruit or vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, onion, berries… this list is endless!), a lean protein (eggs, fish, tofu, skinless chicken, beans), and a healthy fat (olive oil-based dressing, avocado, nuts, seeds). Combing all of these meal components into one meal ensures your plate has a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), fiber, and vitamins and minerals necessary to not only help you feel satisfied but to give you lasting energy throughout the day.

2

Stick to a normal-ish routine to snack less

Whether you have the option to sleep in or just end up working on a project until midnight, try to stick to a normal eating schedule. Eating about every 3-4 hours (variable by person) helps regulate blood sugars so that they don’t drop too low (causing us to feel irritable and sluggish) and don’t spike after eating.

Aim to still have 3 main meals a day and planned snacks, if needed. Try to eat at your normal breakfast time so that the rest of the day can go according to schedule. By sticking to a schedule, you can prevent mindlessly eating throughout the day.

3

Check in with your hunger cues

Again, are you truly hungry? The decision to eat should be the result of having physical hunger. Physical hunger involves your stomach growling, having an empty stomach, and possibly feeling irritable or tired. Use this Hunger-Fullness Scale of 1-10 to help determine your hunger before, during, and after eating. You’ll snack less if you only eat when you’re truly hungry.

4

Plan and prep healthy snacks

So, you’re actually hungry? Great! Plan and prep your snacks ahead of time so they are easy to grab and crunch. Snack less by only reaching for these snacks, no others. Meal prepping before the workweek helps eliminate making decisions on what to eat when your mind is tired or flustered from work.

Aim for snacks that combine at least two of the 3 macronutrients – complex carbohydrate, lean protein, healthy fat. Try veggies and hummus, an apple and peanut butter, a boiled egg and strawberries, fruit & nut trail mix, or whole-grain crackers and guacamole.

5

Find a non-eating activity to help cope with emotions

While comfort foods can certainly have a place in a healthy diet, food shouldn’t be the only method of coping with emotions such as boredom, anger, sadness, or anxiety. Make a list of non-food related activities that you enjoy. When you feel the urge to eat in response to an emotion, choose one of these activities to take your mind away from the kitchen for about 10 minutes.

Try going for a walk, journaling, calling a friend, or doing a hobby. Oh, and do these activities away from the kitchen! You may find that you’ve forgotten about food.

6

Take time to eat

Eating at your desk might make you feel more productive and efficient with your time but it might be wreaking havoc on your health. Those who eat at their desk tend to eat more at one time. You also lose the satisfaction of enjoying your food.

As you stare at your screen or listen to a conference call, you miss out on the delicious flavors, smells, and textures of your food that all add up to the enjoyment of eating. Without the joy of eating, we feel the need to overcompensate later. Take just a short break away from your workspace to focus on your food and its nourishment.

7

Stay hydrated with water

Sometimes our hunger is actually due to dehydration. Keep a large reusable water bottle on hand and continue to take a few sips every 15-20 minutes throughout the day.

Rethink your non-water drinks, too. If you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, caffeine may not be the fix. You may just need water or maybe your body needs more nutrition from your meals and snacks. Keep hydration fun and interesting by infusing it with fresh fruit like lemons, limes or berries, or brew some herbal iced tea (unsweetened).

8

Get moving!

Sitting for long periods of time allows blood to settle and causes circulation to slow. Without proper circulation, our muscles and vital organs don’t get the nutrients they need to keep us energized. Try to move around for a few minutes at least once an hour. Do some light stretches, finish a household chore, or get in a few air squats. Reassess your hunger level after your break to see if you still have physical hunger.

9

Read more on this topic

We’ve done the research to find the best sources. Try: How to Stop Overeating When Working From Home by Katherine Kimber, RD., How to Prevent Overeating When You’re Working From Home by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD at Health, 10 Tips for Eating Healthy When You’re Working from Home by the Cleveland Clinic. Not in the mood for reading? Watch this short clip on How Having a Mindful Eating Practice Can Help You Make Better Food Choices by McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN at Nutrition Stripped.

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About the Author


shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Shannon is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness Instructor with over 5 years of experience working in Corporate Wellness specializing in overall health, nutrition, and fitness. Throughout her journey to becoming an RDN, she grew her passion for culinary nutrition by teaching and developing hands-on cooking classes for all ages in the community.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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