t seems inevitable that folks might feel the urge to snack more as routines, work environments and stress levels change significantly due to the stay-at-home orders that have swept the nation. As many find themselves working from home, the tempting calls from the fridge and cupboard may be hard to ignore. The key to maintaining—and even losing—weight during quarantine is being mindful about why and when you eat. Eating mindfully is easier said than done. It is easy to grab snacks and give into cravings when you need a break, feel bored or feel stressed with work. Take a breath and the time to assess your hunger level. Ask yourself these questions:
- “How long was it since my last meal?”
If it’s only been an hour or two then that “hunger” is likely an emotional response. Take a step back from your desk for a short walk, chew a piece of gum or call a friend for a short break
- “Am I hungry enough to eat an apple?”
In other words, if you are really hungry the answer to this would be yes, a nutrient rich snack sounds great, but if you are leaning toward “no”, and ready to grab the chips, crackers or cookies, then it’s time to find something else to do Another trick is to use the “hunger scale”. On a scale of 1-10, how hungry are you? 1=very full and uncomfortable and 10=starving. You want to be comfortable at a 5, but if you are in the 6-8 range and it’s not mealtime, you need to grab a snack!
Once you have answered those questions and if you decided you are hungry, it’s time to grab a healthy snack. The key to a balanced snack that will sustain hunger until mealtime is to combine a small portion of carbohydrates with lean protein and/or heart healthy fat. The carbs provide energy, and the protein and fats help the body sustain it.
Here are some great sweet and salty nutrient dense snack ideas to keep you fueled through your workday—happy healthy snacking!
- Veggies and ¼ cup hummus or guacamole. Washing, cutting or peeling your veggies at the beginning of the week so they are ready to grab may make it easier for you to reach for them when
hunger strikes. Think carrots, celery, mini peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
- Caprese salad kabobs drizzled with balsamic glaze or vinegar. Don’t forget the fresh basil.
- Cottage cheese and tomatoes with salt and pepper and if you’re craving carbs, whole grain garlic flavor Triscuits are a great addition.
- Cheese sticks, mini Babybel round cheese, or a Laughing Cow cheese wedge with nut/seed crackers such as Almond Thins.
- Edamame with sea salt
- Hard boiled or soft-boiled eggs. Vary the cooking times to find out which style yolk you like best. Older eggs are easier to peel and a splash of vinegar in the water may help too.
- Celery sticks filled with Neufchatel cheese (a less fattening version of cream cheese) with Everything Bagel seasoning—if you haven’t tried this from Costco yet—now is the time.
- Cucumber slices with Tajin seasoning, a delicious Mexican spice made-up of ground chile peppers, sea salt and dehydrated lime juice.
- Crispy oven toasted chickpeas seasoned with your favorite spices—a delicious, crispy snack like chips.
- 3 cups air popped popcorn
- 1 serving (approximately 1 ounce) pistachios, almonds or cashews
- Small fruit with a tablespoon of nut butter (preferably almond or cashew)
- ¼ cup nuts/seeds with unsweetened dried fruit and maybe an ounce of dark chocolate
- 8-12 oz fruit smoothie or peanut butter chocolate protein shake (if purchasing in a bottle be sure it has less than 8 grams added sugar)
- Plain bran cereal and banana (high fiber foods also help control your weight)
- Greek yogurt and mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
- “Energy Balls” – check out Pinterest for tons of recipes to try. How does peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip, chocolate coconut or salted caramel almond sound?
- ½ cup cottage cheese with ½ cup fruit
- 1 string cheese with 1 cup grapes