I started working from home full time in September 2019. Before, I worked in gyms and was out and about all day long, with the access to food mostly being what I brought with me or bought.
Now, working from home, I literally work next to my kitchen and fridge. It’s easy to wander that way when things get slow or stressful and end up eating allllll day long.
Here are the top things that have helped me curb the snacking while working from home (or if you are currently sheltering at home):
1. Eat real meals
I know, this sounds way too simple, but it has been a game-changer for me. It’s easy to think I will just grab a little something and “eat later,” when work or the kids have died down in needing me. BUT not eating a solid meal almost always leads to grazing and often eating way more than I would have had I just stopped and eaten a meal. So, even though I am home and have access to food all day long in the kitchen next to me, I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Having a general plan for what I will be eating that week is helpful too, so there’s not the mindless munching as you try to decide what to make for dinner.
2. Eat satiating meals
Each meal I make sure to have protein, veggies, and healthy fat included in them – a meal template I got from Whole30 that has really served me well in keeping me full and cravings down. I get it, a high carb meal is delicious, but usually leave me prowling into the kitchen an hour later. It’s not in your head – carbs have the least chemical component ability to keep you full. So, if you are having pancakes, consider making them out of a flour with healthy fat (like my buttermilk pancakes here), have some sausage on the side, and maybe even throw in some cauliflower oatmeal for some veggies. Boom – protein + veggies + healthy fat.
Eating real + satiating meals also helps me mentally, as I know there is no way I am truly hungry 30 minutes after a full meal – that’s a craving talking.
3. Is this really hunger or is it just a craving?
I have this graphic on my fridge for a solid year to help me get in the habit of distinguishing between the two. For me the biggest cue was that I didn’t want just anything – I wanted something sweet. I love how Whole30 taught me that if you are truly hungry basic nutrient dense foods like chicken and broccoli sounds good. If all you want is something sweet (or salty) like chips or a cookie = THAT’S NOT HUNGER.
Truly hungry? It happens, maybe a weird schedule that day or didn’t eat enough for the last meal. Make sure your snack includes at least protein or a healthy fat. My favorite is a CHOMPS jerky stick or hard boiled eggs + cutie orange + handful of salted almonds.
4. Make snacking inconvenient
One of my favorite habit tips is to make success convenient and bad habits inconvenient. So, how can you make snacking inconvenient? Some ways could include:
- Staying out of the kitchen – if you don’t go where the food is, you can’t eat it!
- Put in the back of the fridge/cupboard the foods you find particularly tempting to munch. Visual cues can be very triggering and keeping out of the kitchen + putting out of sight the tempting food can really help minimize those.
- Can’t resist the siren call of certain foods? DON’T BUY THEM. I love when Melissa Urban said, “If you put it in your cart, you are putting it in your mouth.” Live with other people who insist on having certain tempting foods? At least see if they can hide them in a place you aren’t aware of!
- In our house, the kitchen is closed between meals, except for an afternoon snack. The kids and grown ups both know this and it helps encourage getting nutrients at meal time.
- Put your food on a plate – habit studies have shown it’s waaay to easy to eat more than you intend to when you eat out of a bag. Put some on a plate, sit down, and enjoy it. (Trust me, I know how easy it is to hover over a bag of chips or cookies and devour way more than intended!)
Keep your water with you ALL THE TIME and drink it throughout the day. My 2020 goal has been to drink half my body weight in oz + a little extra. I keep my water by me at my desk during the day and every time I look at it, I have to take a drink. I have never been so hydrated and it’s really helped me not feel snacky.
6. Be honest what you are really hungry for
Are you really hungry? Or are you stressed, bored, tired, etc.? I know, it sucks to feel your feelings sometimes (we’ve all been doing that a lot lately with COVID-19!). But eating your feelings is just putting a band-aid on a broken arm. You still have a broken arm underneath that needs to be dealt with.
Here are some in the moment self-care strategies that have really helped me have specific things to do instead of eat the cookie/chips. I challenge you to two at least 2-3 of them when cravings hit!
Here’s to nourishing ourselves as best as we can!