People tell me they find themselves snacking more than usual, and are looking for advice on how to handle mid-day nibbling. Being isolated at home with your family–while trying to work, helping kids with online classes, preparing meals (endlessly!), and keeping your surroundings sanitary is certainly stressful. And of course I feel you should cut yourself some slack during these difficult weeks. However, understandably you want to feel good, continue to eat well, and not snack away the afternoon. Here are some tips:
- Try to stick to a meal schedule. Maybe for teens and college students it can be: breakfast at 9:00am, lunch at 1:00pm, and dinner at 6:00pm. For working parents, maybe the schedule is breakfast at 7:00am, lunch at 12:00pm, snack at 4:00pm, and dinner at 8:00pm. Of course the timing is personal, but the point is to eat 3 “real” meals, roughly 4 hours apart to keep your blood sugar stable, and 1 snack as needed.
- Take advantage of your kitchen to prepare healthy meals you could not make at work or school. For example, make a nutrient packed smoothie for breakfast, try avocado toast with eggs for lunch, snack on fruit with nut butter in the afternoon, and cook a healthy “stew” loaded with protein, sweet potatoes, and vegetables for dinner in your slow cooker.
- Choose your snacks carefully. A snack should “mimic” your meals, but just be a smaller quantity. That means a snack must have protein, fats, and plants–if you’re craving something salty try roasted almonds, hummus, carrots and rice crackers. For a sweet treat try plain Greek yogurt with blueberries, granola, and chia seeds.
- Ask yourself if you are physically or emotionally “hungry”. If your stomach is grumbling, or you feel low energy and a bit headache-y, you probably have low blood sugar and need to eat something. If you do not have physical hunger symptoms, you may be feeling lonely or anxious. Instead of choosing food, pick up the phone and call a friend, or take a 15 minute walk with your AirPods, or watch a favorite 30 Rock rerun. Food is not a “cure all”, but sometimes we forget that.
I hope you are all coping as best you can, and please reach out if I can help with other tips and suggestions. Remember to get outside a few times everyday, set up phone calls with friends and extended family, and try not to get consumed by 24 hour a day news coverage. We are survivors!