Spending more time at home these days presents many new challenges, and one of them is easy access to the fridge. As a result, we may find ourselves reaching for snacks more often than we normally would, and this can lead to an excess intake of calories above our daily needs. CBHS nutritionist Chantal Collins looks at how we can ensure we don’t accidently overdo snacking, especially on the wrong things.
1. Make a meal/snack schedule
Many of us thrive on routine. When you’re in the office or physically at work, you probably follow a rough schedule for your breaks and snacks. For example, you may have a coffee break at 10am then lunch around 1pm each day. Mimic that same schedule at home to reflect what you would normally do, and aim to only eat your meals and snacks then. Use a daily planner, set alarms or place a note somewhere visible to help serve as a reminder.
2. Prepare healthy snacks in advance
If you find yourself leaving your laptop to sift through your pantry or fridge, prepare snacks ahead of time to reduce the chance of making unhealthy choices. It’s a lot easier to choose a healthy snack when it is sitting there right in front of you.
Portioning out snacks is also a great idea to reduce overeating as many of us find it hard to know when to stop once we open a packet of trail mix and dive in.
- Chop up vegetable sticks and keep them in a small amount of water
- Make a batch of hummus or buy one to dip your veggie sticks in
- Slice up fresh fruit and make a platter to keep in the fridge
- Portion out trail mix/seed mix into single serve containers
3. Pack a lunchbox
If you have kids at home who are constantly asking for snacks, it’s hard not to indulge yourself as you prepare food for them. Instead, pack their lunch boxes as if they were going to school. That way, food is ready to go and the temptation to choose something less healthy at mealtimes is lessened. You can also pack your own lunchbox too to ensure you have nutritious food ready to eat.
4. Don’t skip main meals
Do you find yourself snacking throughout the morning then you don’t eat lunch because you’re not hungry enough? Then later on, you start the cycle again with dinner? It’s important to have main meals to make sure your body receives proper hungry and full signals. Having a well-balanced meal also keeps your blood sugar levels stable so you are less likely to grab that snack.
5. Eat at the table
Eating at your desk distracted by work can make it difficult to know when to stop eating. Make sure you take your breaks, including meals, at a place separate from your workspace, for example outside or in the kitchen.
6. Be present with your food
When you do sit down for a meal, don’t touch any electronics. When you focus on chewing, tasting and feeling your food it changes the way your body reacts, making your senses get in touch with your hunger control centres. This helps you feel when your hunger is satisfied unlike eating while doing your work, texting a friend or scrolling social media. These distractions can make us eat more.
7. Focus on whole foods
Don’t over complicate it. Stock up on high-fibre, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and fruit, wholegrain crackers and high protein yoghurts
TOP TIP: Hide the junk food
Seeing food in your line of vision makes it that much more tempting to graze. This is especially true for snacks like potato chips, biscuits and chocolate. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ can go a long way to reduce that temptation.
Plan out your snacks for one week and see how it helps develop healthy snacking habits.
- 1. Write days and times of your snacks on paper and stick it to the fridge.
- 2. Prepare any necessary foods in advance so they are ready to go.
Ready to put Chantal’s ideas into practice? Download our 20 on-the-go healthy snack ideas for some snack-time inspiration.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.