Healthy Eating at Home
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Brief Article Overview
Working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic has radically affected our everyday lives, including our usual eating habits and routines.
- Having high-calorie, hyper-palatable snacks easily available makes it difficult to control nutritional intake.
- Removing these types of foods from your kitchen cupboards, upgrading your snack choices, eating mindfully and cooking from home can all contribute to healthy eating at home.
Many of our dietary habits have been built around our professional, domestic and social lives. So it’s natural to think that, now we are spending more time at home, we’d find it easier to manage the quality and quantity of what we eat. But from many conversations we’ve had with clients, this hasn’t been the case. Even though we are eating out less, the disruption to our routines and environments pose a new challenge to healthy eating habits. So how can we address this novel problem and improve nutrition practices whilst being stuck at home?
First thing’s first, if certain foods are running against your health and fitness goals, and you can’t handle them in moderation, just get rid of them. We all know the culprits, those hyper-palatable high-calorie snacks like crisps, biscuits, chocolate bars, pastries, cereals, the list goes on. Why torture yourself by having these foods readily available in the house? It’s a needless temptation. No matter how strong-willed you think you are, it’s only a matter of time before you raid cookie jar and feel guilty for doing so.
As well as clearing these items out of the pantry, make sure you don’t buy these items on your next food shop in the first place (eating before you go food shopping will help here). It’s so obvious it’s hard to take seriously, but it’s worth repeating to help reinforce this point.
Having said this, we understand that you have to not only look after yourself, but you may have to appease those you live with especially if you have kids. It’s hard to not have easily accessible snacks lying around. If this is the case, try and take these snacks out of their glossy packaging and put them into an empty jar, then hide the jar. This could also be a great opportunity to teach yourself and your family about home-cooking and healthy nutrition. Why not try to replace their favourite snacks with healthier alternatives and get them to join in on the process?
Mindfulness, Boredom & Snacking
Whilst working from home, you may have found large chunks of time suddenly available to you. You no longer have to commute to and from work, and those impromptu conversations with colleagues don’t happen. This raises the issue of boredom. Boredom can lead to hedonic eating (eating for the sake of eating). When we’re bored (or procrastinating), our minds will spontaneously crave all sorts of tasty things and before we know it, we’ve raided the fridge five times before dinner.
This is where removing these hyper-palatable foods helps remove the ability to carry out these hedonic eating behaviours. It’s also helpful to practice some mindfulness here. Take a moment to think about whether your perception of hunger is a) actual physical hunger, a physiological need for energy which can be satisfied by any food or b) emotional hunger, a craving for something specific cued by your emotional state at the time.
If a) then help yourself to a nutritious meal. If b) then pause and take a moment to think about all the other options available. Maybe try to complete a work task before your next meal, drink a glass of water or cup of tea, go for a walk, have a stretch, meditate, read or listen to something interesting. Before you know it this craving will pass and you can get on with your day as planned.
*Journalling can provide its form of mindfulness and reflection. Why not keep a daily food diary and provide your coach with it weekly.
The Fridge, Pantry & Healthy Snack Swaps
Now we’ve highlighted the things to avoid when eating from home, let’s discuss the actions we can put into place so that your nutrition decisions are not only healthy but feel effortless to maintain.
Home Cooking and Leftovers – You’ve likely been cooking and baking from home more often during the lockdown (if not, we highly encourage that you do). Whilst doing so, why not cook twice the amount, store the excess into Tupper-ware and have it for dinner or lunch the next day?
Keep Fresh Produce In Sight – Having fruit and vegetables ready and available will radically improve your snack choices the next time you get peckish. You could even add low-calorie dips, like hummus, to enjoy them with.
Upgrade Your Snack Options – Beyond fruits and vegetables (always our first choice for snacks), think about upgrading your snack options to high-protein or low-calorie alternatives. Here’s a list of our favourites;
Addressing Problem Foods – We all know the common hyper-palatable, high-calorie culprits, but what relationship do you have with these foods? Can you regulate your consumption of these in a controlled manner? Do you feel bad after you’ve eaten them knowing they’re not part of the plan? If not, then think about complete abstinence from them and return to them in the future.
Assessing your Kitchen Cupboards – We are products of our environment. So design yours carefully! Head over to your kitchen cupboards, open them up and ask yourself these 2 questions:
- What foods & beverages do you currently have in your cupboards?
- Do these options lend themselves to good decisions when you’re stressed out and/or in time-sensitive situations?
Solutions for Success – Don’t rely on willpower alone. Take care of your environment and it will take care of you.
- Pause and reflect – Take a moment before getting up to eat something you’re craving. Are you actually hungry or responding to emotional cues?
- Keep the healthy stuff in sight – Opt for fresh fruit and vegetables wherever possible and put them in plain sight (trust us this works). Prepare these ahead of time if necessary and have them readily available in the kitchen and fridge.
- Stock up on high protein, low-calorie snacks for when in dire need! They take longer to digest and help reduce hunger with greater satiety levels.
Food for thought? If this has encouraged you to think about your health, fitness & wellbeing, why not click this link and fill out our enquiry form. We’d love to see how we can help you on your journey.
Disclosure: This article is not to be used as medical advice. If you are currently experiencing physical or mental health issues, please seek professional advice from a fully qualified Nutritionist, GP or Physiotherapist.