Aside from isolation and the lack of structure, diet can be one of the biggest challenges during the pandemic. When you’re spending more time at home, the urge to snack on processed foods out of boredom can easily spiral into an unhealthy habit.
“We have become a nation of snackers,” says Rob Hobson, nutritionist for Healthspan (healthspan.co.uk). “Findings from the market research agency Mintel have shown that over two thirds of people snack at least once a day, and that home snacking will become even more pertinent post-pandemic. ”
So, how can you avoid the all-day urge to ransack your treat cupboard? Here are some expert-led tips for staying on track.
1. Keep tempting treats out of the house
“This sounds pretty simple, but sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference,” says Hobson.
“More of us are working at home as a result of the pandemic, which means temptation lurks at every corner, so if you have the space, try to avoid working in the kitchen.
“Make sure you also keep unhealthy snacks out of the kitchen cupboards. If boredom or stress is your reason for snacking, then try getting outdoors or doing a little breathing exercise to distract the mind.”
2. Satiate your sweet tooth
“Late-night snacking is the Achilles heel of many people, and even more so during the winter months, as it gets colder and darker,” adds Hobson.
“Boredom can leave people looking for something sweet, and many of us are programmed from childhood to expect these foods after eating.
“Try to curb your sweet tooth with herbal teas made with liquorice or mallow, as these are naturally sweet. You could even try a low-calorie hot chocolate drink.”
3. Fill up at mealtimes
“Make every mouthful count when it comes to how you put your meals together,” says Hobson.
“Be sure to include plenty of protein (lean meats, tofu, beans, pulses), fibre (vegetables, wholegrains) and healthy fats (olive oil, oily fish, avocado) on your plate.
“Limiting the amount of carbohydrates – especially processed carbohydrate foods – is a good way to keep you feeling full between meals and balance out your blood sugar levels.
“This is especially beneficial at lunchtime, as many of us are prone to an energy slump, which can have us reaching for pick-me-ups in the form of sugary snacks or drinks.”
4. Mindfully shop
“To reduce the likelihood of mindless snacking at home, try mindful shopping,” says Dr. Aria Campbell Danesh (dr-aria.com), clinical psychologist and author of A Mindful Year (Blackstone Publishing).
“Write a shopping list and go straight for the items you need, rather than walking up and down each supermarket aisle.
“With fewer snacks in your cupboards, you’re less likely to mindlessly reach for them when you’re feeling bored, stressed or low.”