3 blog posts in one week… I really have to get out of the house. Oh wait, I can’t! #toosoon
Covid-19 is bringing up all kinds of things for people and I do have extra time on my hands. I am seeing many of you being very creative in the kitchen and enjoying family meals at home and it’s warming my heart. It’s nice to see that there are some positives to be found in all of this.
But with being home all the time and stress being high, for some it has become increasingly harder to avoid the snack pantry.
“How do I stop snacking?”
“What are some good snacks with protein?”
Most of these questions are based in fears as we are becoming aware that we may all be stuck at home for a very long time. What does this mean for our diet? What does this mean for the hard work we put in to get to where we are?
I am not here to tell you to chew gum or go for a walk, but I will tell you that the way you eat probably sucks right now and this is why snacking is becoming a big issue.
Hear me out:
If you are asking about snacks with protein, you are probably not eating proper meals with enough protein.
If you are on an overly restrictive diet, you are probably driving yourself to binge and snack.
And big disclaimer before I go on: if you are hungry, then by all means, eat. A diet that does not bend breaks. A diet that is too restrictive is not sustainable. And any adult trying to live on 1400 calories a day is setting themselves up for failure.
- Set appropriate goals and targets for yourself, or work with a competent coach. Restriction always leads to bingeing. It’s also really important to understand the lifestyle that goes with the goals we want. If you are not willing to live the way a physique model does, do not set your goals at sub-10% body fat!
- Eat better meals! This is where it all starts. Start by eating satisfying meals with plenty of vegetables and sufficient protein and fat to keep you satiated. This goes for little ones too: when my daughter was little I always made sure she ate her balanced meals first before reaching for cereal bars and fruits snacks. We are setting up our kids’ future eating habits.
- Pause and wait. Give yourself time to assess whether or not you are truly hungry. If you walk away from the pantry and wait 10-15 minutes, do you still want to eat or did it pass?
- If you do still find yourself feeling genuinely hungry, as I mentioned earlier, please just eat. If you are pursuing weight loss, than yes, managing some hunger is par for the course, but no matter what your goals are you should not be hungry all the time.
- Eat what you want. If you are craving a cookie but eat a rice cake, you are probably going to end up still craving that cookie and sooner or later it will turn into 6 cookies once you lose control! Eat the cookie and enjoy it.
- If you realize that you aren’t actually hungry, grab yourself a cup of tea or a nice sparkling water and find a change of scenery. Sometimes all we need is just a little break. With all of us working from home it’s easy to spend too much time in the kitchen near food. If you can, set up your work space in a new environment or give yourself a little break.
- Know the difference between hunger and feeling bored or anxious. Food can provide that immediate satisfaction when stressed or bored but it is rarely what we really need or want. Text a friend (or call if you are weird like that!), cuddle your pet, hug your spouse or child. Just press pause and reset.
- Know yourself. Are you a moderator or abstainer? There are two types of people, those who can have a couple squares of dark chocolate and those who need to eat the whole bar! Just google moderator/abstainer quiz by Gretchen Rubin if unsure. If you find yourself to be an abstainer, make sure you set up your home environment to reflect this. If a certain food is in your house, it makes it way too hard to resist when we are home all the time like right now.
- Know your trigger foods. For example, I am a moderator, which means I have pretty good portion control. Nevertheless, there are certain treats that cause my self control to go out the window. I know this and I make sure to eat them outside of the house whenever I want them. That’s pretty much the reason why I don’t bake a lot, and if I do, it’s usually to share with friends.
- This one ties in to points 3 + 4, but clean up your environment. Make sure you set yourself up to succeed by making the foods you want to eat accessible and appealing, and create distance between you and the foods you want to avoid. For example, I keep fruits in a bowl on my table and chocolate in the back of my pantry out of sight.
- Always eat off of a plate. Never grab a handful of crackers or chocolate chips and eat them by the pantry. Grab a proper plate or bowl and sit down to eat your food. There should be no guilt or shame attached with eating food, even sweets, but hiding in the hallway just contributes to this kind of feeling.
- Plan treats! Trying to eat clean 100% of the time is not necessary. Unless you have legitimate allergies or intolerances, no foods should be forbidden. Yes, we want to be healthy, eat our protein, eat our veggies, and get real meals in. But if we try to cut out all the foods that we enjoy just because we decided they are bad for us, pretty soon all we can do is obsess over them. I like to think of it as “treat not cheat”. Plan your treats into your day/week and budget them into your daily calories so you have something to look forward to without guilt involved. This way, you won’t start obsessing over them or end up giving up on your diet completely.
To recap: If you’re hungry, eat. Not sure what to eat? Start with real food. Just like you, I have a few packaged go-to’s for when I am on the go. But if I am home, I try to reach for real food first. If you are craving popcorn with movie night, have some. I know I will. There is no “good snacks” or “bad snacks”. Eating an apple does not make you better than eating a bag of chips. Nothing happens in isolation. Always think of your diet as a whole.
Need a trick to decide if you are hungry? My mom used to give me the apple test. Basically anytime I whined for a snack, usually after school, she’d offer me an apple first, and if all I wanted was baked goods or a treat she would tell me that dinner will be served in 2 hours and smile. Simple but effective!
Be like my mom. Do the apple test.
Now that I am adult I do prefer nice satisfying meals over snacks, but my day usually involves an after-noon snack and almost always a little something sweet after dinner. Some of my go-to’s?
- Apple + nut butter.
- Protein shakes & smoothie bowls.
- Yogourt + granola.
- Veggies & hummus.
- Popcorn (Boom ChickaPop is my go-to).
- Perfect bars.
On the go:
- RX bars (peanut butter and berries is my fave!) And Built bars (you have to try coconut cream!) .
- Lean jerky.
- Cereal bars.
- Apples (mom would be proud).
There is no right or wrong way to snack. Your diet matters as a whole. So instead of focusing on that one snack, make sure the overall quality of your diet is high.
Hope this helps! Have a good go-to snack you just love? Share it with me. Stay home and stay safe.