By Solene, Intern with Loving Heart
Many of us work from home and spend the majority of our days near the refrigerator or pantry. Now that I’m a student, snacking all day may have become the new normal. Plus, it can be hard to know if you’re snacking because you’re hungry, or feeling bored, stressed, lonely, tired, or even a little bit of all of the above.
To help you stay on track with healthy eating habits during this difficult time, we’ve put together our top six tips to help you control your appetite for snacks and for your sanity. With a little planning, a timely, balanced snack can help regulate appetite and meet our nutritional needs now and once we get back to a normal routine.
As a student, this advice has helped me a lot. Keeping the same routine throughout the day can help save a lot of time and get you into a routine. Try to stick to a routine of regular, balanced meals throughout the day. Like having a good breakfast that gives you strength for the rest of the day.
If you know you’re going to be hungry between breaks, classes and work, plan to have a healthy snack in between. Look to fruits and vegetables and protein-rich foods for snacks. Another tip I have implemented fairly quickly is to divide snacks into portions rather than eating them out of the large container, to make sure you’re watching the portions.
The second tip is to get plenty of sleep, and enough of it! While it may seem strange to talk about sleep in this article, it is important to note that a lack of sleep can have a significant impact on our eating habits. Personally, when I’m feeling tired, I’m much more motivated to prepare food and “food panda” or “grab food” options comes into play quite quickly! Practice good sleep hygiene and try to maintain a regular schedule by going to bed and getting up at about the same time each day.
The third tip is to stock up! This tip has saved me a lot during exams or stressful times with lots of work! The goal is to make sure you have healthy options on hand in your fridge and pantry. Here are a few snack ideas that I have put together:
- Sliced apples or celery sticks
- Fruit salad with Greek yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon
- Apple or pear slices or grapes with a serving of cheese
- Raw fruit or vegetables with low-fat cottage cheese
- Raw vegetables and hummus (try hummus flavoured with roasted garlic, red bell pepper or pepper for variety)
- A small handful of nuts
- A hard-boiled egg and some raw vegetables
- Chocolate 😉
The fourth tip is to avoid ultra-processed options. This option often comes up when you don’t have time to make a meal (hence the need for small snacks) Try to leave highly processed foods (such as chips, cookies, candy and ice cream, or ready-made meals) off store shelves most of the time. It is easy to overeat these foods if they are available all the time. It’s easier to give them up at the store than to resist them every day at home!
The fifth tip is to hydrate! Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger. If you feel a craving, try to check if your body is asking you for something to drink. Water is the best choice, but you can flavour it with citrus fruit or cucumber, or even lemon (plus it is good for your skin!). Mineral water and herbal teas are also good options. My advice would also be to buy a water bottle so that you have water with you at all times and that it becomes a habit!
Lately, try to practice mindful eating! Before you head to the kitchen, ask yourself. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or if you’re snacking to satisfy some other need. Are you using food as a distraction? Are you snacking to fill an emotional need? If you’re not really hungry, try to find another activity, like calling a friend or going for a walk.
*Disclaimer: Tips are solely based on Solene’s opinion. You may do your own research on what food brings benefit to your health and mood.