It is certainly nice to roll out of bed and head to your work-from-home desk. However, working from home doesn't come without its own struggles. While a packed lunch or a restaurant meal is the norm in an office setting, at home, with a full kitchen just a few feet away, it's easy to fall into the habit of mindless eating and snacking throughout the day. To help you curb the habit of adding hundreds of unnecessary calories to your otherwise healthy work day, lean on these 10 tips.
1. Meal Prep
Even when you're working from home, take the time to plan and pack your meals and snacks. Meal prepping can sound like an intimidating task to take on, mainly because it requires some planning and time. However, you can still prep your meals (especially lunch) and snacks in a matter of minutes either the night before or morning of if you have a well-stocked kitchen and staples like precooked chicken, pre-chopped veggies, greens or prepared whole grains. Pack your food in a separate bag or container so when it comes time to eat, you have saved yourself the uncertainty of what to eat, an emotional state which often leads to snacking and overeating.
2. Plate Your Snacks and Meals
Whether you end up pre-packing your meals for the day or making the day of, taking the time to place any foods you are about to eat on a plate is crucial for the mind-body connection. Choosing the types and amounts of food and arranging them all together on a plate or in a meal-prep container allows your brain to visualize just how much it is about to consume.
3. Stay Hydrated
On average, many folks are under hydrated, and our body can confuse this symptom with hunger. Take the time to refill glasses or water bottles throughout the day with water or seltzer to help you reach your daily hydration goal. It's also a good reminder for the body that in the moment of confused cravings, all it needed was an extra gulp or two of water. After drinking fluids, check in with your hunger cues to see if you are still genuinely hungry. If you are, a well-rounded, nutritious snack like a piece of fruit and almond butter or veggies with hummus is likely in order.
4. When in Doubt, Snack on Produce
If you find yourself snacking mindlessly, skip the processed stuff and reach for fruits and vegetables. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only one out of 10 U.S. adults take in the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Produce is low in calories, provides lots of fiber and can give you that extra crunch you're looking for when it comes to snack time. And eating fruits and vegetables doesn't have to be boring! Make a fruit plate with nut butter drizzle, a smoothie with fruits and veggies like blueberries and spinach, or a crudité with mashed avocado to keep things interesting.
5. Eat Meals Peacefully
Even when working from home, life can still be extremely hectic! When it's time for meals and snacks, pencil in 10 to 15 minutes for a break that is free of both stress and electronics so you can eat with purpose and intent. This also allows you to be present in the moment and makes your body aware of the food it is consuming and your hunger levels, which effectively eliminates mindless munching.
6. Work In a Space Away From the Kitchen
If you work near the kitchen, chances are you'll be more likely to walk over and search for a distraction given its close proximity. Choosing a room or space in the house that is farther away from the kitchen gives you those few extra seconds to contemplate and consider when you find yourself mindlessly wandering over to grab a snack. On your walk to the kitchen, you may actually realize that you need a break and head outside for a few moments of fresh air, instead.
7. Avoid Bringing Junk Food into the House
If you find yourself mindlessly munching on chips or chocolate candy, keep it out of the house. It's much more difficult to snack on junk food if it isn't within arm's reach. Leave the chips and cookies at the grocery and, instead, place fruits or nuts in a bowl on the countertop so you have healthy food at your fingertips any time a craving strikes.
8. Bring a Healthy Appetite to the Table
Working in a less structured environment doesn't mean you should skip meals to eat healthy, nor does it mean you should graze on little bites all day long. Give yourself time between meals to build up a healthy appetite and be sure to eat before you're ravenously hungry. Skipping meals can lead to eating anything and everything that you can find, instead of sitting down and enjoying a delicious well-thought-out meal.
9. Set an Alarm
If you find yourself getting lost at work in front of your computer and ending up overly hungry, set an alarm to go off for your meals and snacks. If the time between meals is five or so hours, then schedule a snack in between to curb hunger. If you feel hungry at the same time every day, that also may be a time for a light snack. Let the alarm be your reminder to step away from your desk and electronics and grab a bite.
10. Eat Slowly
Although your time at home can be hectic between Zoom meetings, task deadlines and taking care of your household, it's important to embrace meal time. Do not shovel an entire meal into your mouth in five minutes and then return to your desk. Take at least fifteen minutes to mindfully eat. Focus on small bites so you can taste the food completely, and put down your utensils between bites. Use all your senses to enjoy the meal, including things like the crunching of the carrot, the smooth texture of the sweet potato mash, the cool temperature of the salad or the warmed temperature of the cooked quinoa.