For many of us working from home, we spend the majority of our days in close proximity to our fridges and pantries. This may mean that snacking all day long has become the new norm. It’s often hard to tell whether you’re snacking because you are hungry, bored, stressed, lonely, tired, or even all of the above.
To help you stay on course with healthy eating habits during this challenging time, we’ve put together our top 6 tips to help you control your snack-appetite. With a little planning, a well-placed, balanced snack can help regulate appetite and meet your nutritional needs both now and once we get back to a normal routine. Here are our tips on how to take charge of your snack routine!
Keep to a routine
Aim to keep to a routine with regular, well-balanced meals thoughout the day. If you find you are overly hungry by the time you get to your next meal, or you get hungry between meals, plan for a healthy snack in between. Aim to include fruits/vegetables and protein-rich foods in your snacks. To keep snack portions in check, portion out snacks ahead of time instead of eating them from the large container. For example, take a portion of crackers and put them on a plate for yourself rather than eating them straight from the package.
Get enough sleep
While this article might seem like a strange place to be talking about sleep, it is important to note that sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on our eating behavior. A lack of sleep impacts your appetite hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Not getting enough sleep leads to a decrease in leptin, the satiety hormone, and an increase in ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Not a good combination in our efforts to curb unnecessary snacking! Practice good sleep hygiene and try to keep to a regular schedule by going to sleep and waking up at similar times each night/morning.
Ensure those healthy options are readily available in your fridge and pantry. Make sure to include healthy snacks on your grocery list before you stock up next. Need some ideas? Have a look at the list below. Here are some great options for healthy snacks!
- Sliced apple pieces or celery sticks with nut/seed butter like almond, peanut, or sunflower seed butter
- Fruit salad (e.g. melon, berries, grapes) with 0% plain Greek yogurt, sprinkled with cinnamon
- A sliced apple, pear, or grapes with a light Babybel cheese portion
- Fruit or raw vegetables and low fat cottage cheese
- Veggies with hummus (try a flavoured hummus like roasted garlic, red pepper, or peppercorn for some variety)
- Wasa or Ryvita crackers with tomato or cucumber slices and low fat cream cheese or Laughing Cow cheese
- Edamame beans, steamed and unsalted or minimally salted
- A small smoothie frozen or fresh berries or other fruits, 0% plain Greek yogurt, milk or almond milk, and chia/flax seeds. Try this strawberry banana breakfast smoothie or easy power smoothie!
- Nuts, aiming for ~¼ cup (small palmful) portion and a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables
- Trail mix (nuts and dried fruits), aiming for ~ ⅓ cup serving
- Wasa or Ryvita crackers with nut butter and some raw vegetables
- A hardboiled egg and some raw vegetables
Avoid ultra-processed options
Try to leave highly processed snack foods (chips, chocolates, cookies, candies, ice cream) at the store. These foods are easy to over-consume, and may be harder to have as the “occasional treat” if they are readily available to you all day every day. It’s easier to say no once at the store, than every day at home.
Sometimes we confuse thirst for hunger. If you find yourself craving something, check to see whether it’s your body trying to ask for something to drink. Water is the best choice, but to spice things up, try flavouring water with fruit pieces, lime/lemon, or cucumber. Soda water or herbal teas can also be good options. Consider keeping a large water bottle close by throughout the day to serve as a visual reminder.
Practice mindful snacking
Before you head over to the kitchen, check in with yourself. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or if you are snacking to meet another need. Are you using food as a distraction? Are you snacking to meet an emotional need? If you are not truly hungry, find another activity (calling a friend, going for a walk, etc.) that better meets your needs.
In addition to checking in with yourself, use these simple tips to practice snacking mindfully:
- Ditch distractions. Focus on enjoying your snacks. Try to avoid snacking while doing other activities like watching TV or browsing social media.
- Engage all your senses. Focus on the smells, tastes, textures, shapes, and colors of foods. This will increase your enjoyment of food consumed and could even help you feel more satisfied from a smaller portion.
- Slow down. Take your time and enjoy each bite. After all, your snack is delicious!
Are you interested in learning more dietitian-approved tips for all ages? Check out Copeman’s definitive guide to