Feel like you can’t stop snacking while working from home? You’re not alone. With so many of us working from home, I’ve seen more clients start snacking even though it was a habit they’d kicked months ago. No shame, you’re human! But let’s chat about why this is an important one to tackle this week, strategies to keep it contained, and how to stay healthy and (reasonably) happy working from home.
Why is the cupboard calling me?
Most of us are capital “S” stressed this week to start. We’re working in close quarters with all new distractions, the kitchen being a VERY tempting one. Our brains are burnt out from the scrolling, news watching and praying we’ve done lately. It’s no surprise that our exhausted brains are begging for a break from all that, and that is exactly what that grazing is. Whether it’s boredom, overwhelm, stress, or exhaustion – food, and particularly carbs (hands up if you’ve gotten in the crackers) provide a brief “bump” to our happy hormones. Mmmmmm carbs.
So if you’ve been beating yourself up, please stop. It’s just your brain’s most reliable way to feel better for a minute!
Why should I try and pare back the snacks?
Grazing all day will add extra calories, yes, but more importantly can hurt your progress long term whether you’re eating for energy, weight loss, or to soothe an unhappy gut.
- It increases insulin and blood sugar, which should be lower between meals so you can use your stored energy (that’s all fat cells are) making weight loss or diabetes control harder both short and long term.
- It’s a self-fulfilling feedback loop – if you snack every day at 11 just by chance because you get bored at the computer, your brain is going to notice that jump on board and start begging you to keep this fun new habit up. Remember habits can be good or bad – your brain learns what you practice most.
- It can hurt digestion and gut health – we need 3-6 hours between meals to allow our gut to clear out (our migrating motor complex, or MMC likes an empty gut before it does its thang). Ensuring you have time between meals and snacks is particularly important for Irritable bowel syndrome and reflux.
All this to say, don’t sweat the odd little snack – I’ve had more than my usual too during covid too. But it’s time we all got back to what feels good for our body as we adapt to our new daytime digs.
So what’s a snacky, potentially stressed out adult to do?
Start with a lower carb or less processed swap so your blood sugar and insulin stay a bit lower.
- Avoid the flour based foods like crackers, bread, pastries etc.
- Think veggies and dip, a Babybel cheese, nuts or trail mix, or turkey pepperoni. Something filling but not super-craveable so you don’t have to fight the same urge every day.
- If the sweet craving is kicking your butt – try some fruit with a bit of nut butter to slow down absorption. I’ve been slicing a banana in half lengthwise and filling it with a tablespoon of Fatso chocolate peanut butter (essentially turning it into a long banana sandwich), it totally hits the spot.
- If cravings and emotional or boredom eating were a problem pre-covid, think about joining our Conquer Your Cravings group program and kicking this burden for good.
Pretend you’re a kid and build some routine
- Set a timer for mid morning and mid afternoon snacks, and stay out of the kitchen until it goes off. Then ask if you’re physically hungry, and if not take a mini brain break doing something else away from the danger zone.
Get visual reminders to stay out of the danger zone
- Put a coloured sticky note on the fridge to catch your attention, and remind you to pause before opening up. While you’re at – put one on the crackers or snacky stuff.
Try movement or de-stressing breaks when you get the urge
- Snackiness can be your brain’s way of trying to relieve some stress. Do it a favour and fill that need with something else. Bonus, this builds a new habit over time, so it will get easier to resist the call of the kitchen.
- Take a walk, do some jumping jacks or squats, find a 5 minute yoga video – whatever floats your boat
- Turn on a pump up song (Lizzo’s ‘Good as Hell’ for me)
- Do some stretches, my neck has been tight all week and this feels SO good
- Text with your funniest friend
- Read a chapter of a book
- I have a great mobility workout from my peeps at True North Strength that I’ll be trying to get through daily on my breaks.
Don’t beat yourself up OR give up until “this blows over”
I give you zero permission to do either of these. That’s right, serious Michelle will get on your case if you fall into one of these camps for more than a day or two. Your health matters – your physical AND your mental health. You are going to have some days where you ride the struggle bus when it comes to food choices. No.Big.Deal.
- Do remind yourself even Dietitians, trainers and your healthiest friends falter (no matter how perfect Instagram looks)
- Do accept that you’re human, that means perfection is not an option and occasional failure is inevitable. Part of the plan.
- Do make a plan for the next meal so that it feels healthy-ish. Having a plan helps your brain re-centre without getting too rigid.
- Do continue to have planned treats, even if you’ve had a “bad” week. Your brain needs that intentional release no matter what kind of personality you think you have. Make it something delicious, in a portion you feel comfortable with, and enjoy every damn bite. Tonight, I cracked a bottle of GOOD wine. The kind you save for company, and you know what it felt sooooo lovely to just soak it in instead of falling into because of stress or mindlessness. Highly recommend.
If you need some help with the mindful eating and cravings, and missed our 3 Day Mindfulness Challenge, you can find all three videos here. This is the perfect time to practice using that muscle, so you can keep up your healthy habits.
Need some help getting your meals for the week balanced and prepared? If you’d like to receive our free Meal Planning Getting Started Guide AND get in on our weekly emails about all things nutrition so you can get clarity and confidence on what you’re eating, join us here!