By Lisa Drayer, CNN
The New Year brings with it old circumstances: working from home, isolating yourself again, and having close access to food almost all the time.
Some of us may enjoy homemade meals more and not have to walk too far for a snack, but working near the refrigerator poses a challenge in maintaining healthy eating habits. Rest assured, there are ways to minimize mindless snacking and fill up on empty calories, even when you can’t socially stray from your kitchen cabinet.
After years of nutritional advice, I find that my clients’ judgment of their diet is a great predictor of future behaviors. If you berate yourself for eating too much, it can cause you to spiral into unease, which can lead to more emotional eating. On the other hand, being gentle with yourself can help you establish a healthier mindset when it comes to indulgences, and it can lead to a more balanced lifestyle.
I have found that incorporating conscious strategies around eating – which are not about judgment – can be very helpful for those struggling with “unconscious” eating. Below are some practical tips that can help you minimize unnecessary snacking and get the most out of food.
Stop, think, eat
Before you grab that cookie or bag of crisps, stop and ask yourself, “Do I really want this now?” Or “Do I want this food because I’m hungry or because I’m bored or stressed?” Think carefully – If you want a snack, go for it. But if the answer is no, you’ve stopped snacking excessively. The idea is to make the choice to eat a conscious decision.
The Hunger Meter is a tool that incorporates the “stop, think, eat” strategy, as it allows you to take a break and assess your hunger level before you eat. If you’re looking for a snack but find that you’re not really hungry, you might be craving something else, according to Wendy Sterling, registered dietitian and co-author of How to Feed Your Child Through a Disorder. of food “. Try taking a walk, taking a shower, calling a friend, or taking a nap.
Fill your kitchen with high fiber foods
It is quite difficult to mindlessly snack on foods high in fiber like vegetables, salads, and fruits. This is because fiber contributes to “bulk” and fills you up quickly. Foods high in fiber also help keep your blood sugar stable, which can help prevent impulsive snacking and binge eating at meals.
Don’t take it home
The decisions you make at the time of purchase greatly predict your ability to stay on track. Simply put, if you take it home, you’ll eat it. If you don’t want to derail your diet goals, leave some snacks that will sabotage your efforts in the grocery store aisle.
Practice portion control
When choosing snacks, avoid loose bags that make it easy to munch on without thinking. Go for proportionate snacks, or if you want to buy larger bags, divide the snacks at home into small bags or containers.
Schedule meal and snack times. It is important, especially when working from home, to stop and take a break to eat. Better yet, plan ahead for what you’re going to eat for lunch or afternoon tea. Honoring your meal breaks will keep you from cravings and structure your day more. It will also help you avoid nervous snacking during stressful work.
Plan for intentional indulgences
Similar to meal planning, you can plan a splurge. I think of those indulgences most often in connection with birthday parties or out-of-town dinners (think a decadent piece of chocolate cake), but even in everyday situations, planning out treats can help. minimize concern for sweets and avoid overeating. If you’re in the mood for chocolate, book some Hershey Kisses to eat after lunch. If you like pizza, eat it once a week for lunch or dinner. It can also help to minimize obsessive thoughts about these foods because you have given yourself permission to enjoy them.
Eat at the table, not at your desk
Creating a space to enjoy meals and snacks can help you avoid unconscious eating. Find a table or an island or any place you like to eat and designate it as your dining area in the house. Eat slowly and savor every bite. Pay attention to the flavors and textures of foods so you can get the most from your meals.
Get rid of distractions
Scrolling through social media or watching Netflix while eating distracts from your food and prevents you from signing up when you’re full. In fact, people who played a game of solitaire on a computer while eating ate faster, ate almost twice as much, and felt less full than people who weren’t distracted while eating, according to a study the dietitian found. Lisa Young quotes in her book “Finally full, finally thin. Put away all the screens, phones and anything that will prevent you from being present while eating.
Close the kitchen
Decide when the kitchen will be “closed for the day”, turn off the lights and close all doors. This can be very helpful in avoiding nighttime snacking.
Other tips to try
Here are some other tips that can help you mindless snacking:
Take a tea break
Sipping tea can also help keep cravings at bay. “Drinking herbal tea with a little honey gives you a retarder; it makes you think for a minute about a snack or a meal that may be unnecessary, ”dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix told CNN.
Keep a food and mood diary
Writing down what you eat and how you are feeling at that time can help you identify triggers and minimize impulse snacking. Plus, writing down your daily diet at the start of each day can give you more structure and keep you on track.
Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can cause us to consume up to 800 extra calories, according to a recent study. It is believed that sleep deprivation can cause our hormones to stimulate hunger and / or suppress hormonal signals associated with satiety. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
You can gradually adopt these 12 tips by incorporating one or two strategies into your routine each week. This approach will help you eat healthier.
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Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author, and CNN health and nutrition contributor.