New to spending most of the day in your home? Find yourself walking to the pantry every 30 minutes to forage for food? We feel you. Snacking's not a bad thing, but doing it all day every day can certainly put a damper on your health goals.
Good news, though: There are plenty of little things you can do to curb your snacking while working from home. From making sure you've got actual lunches prepped to setting some boundaries on where you're allowed to snack, these are our expert tips for keeping your stomach full and your mind off the snack drawer while working from home.
Prep your lunches
The first step to not snacking so much is making sure you're getting square meals with all the categories on the food triangle. This means continuing to "pack" a lunch, even if you're not taking it anywhere. If you're a meal prepper, pick a day to get your lunches ready for the entire week. Or try resurrecting those old elementary school lunch menu calendars. "It can be helpful to create a daily meal plan of what you will have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and perhaps two snacks," says registered dietician Mary Jane Detroyer. Having a plan or meal ready takes the spontaneous urges and decision making out of the equation. Everything's set and ready to go.
Keep to a schedule
Eating at home should still be on somewhat of a schedule, just like your meetings and calls are still on your work schedule. “Schedule lunch and snack breaks in your calendar” says DJ Blatner, registered dietician and author of The Superfood Swap. “When you work from home, it’s easy to totally over-schedule, procrastinate, and lose track of time” she says. Putting everything on the calendar—even snack time—helps you stay on schedule and not snack willy-nilly.
Pick filling snacks
We'll say it again: Snacking's not bad! When your stomach is growling, you should feed it. But to keep it from growling again 10 minutes later, pick nutritious snacks. April Crowley, a chef and registered dietician, recommends pairing two snacks to make them more filling. Her favorite pairings are hummus and whole-grain crackers, sliced veggies and fruit, and popcorn and cheese sticks.
Hydrating can help you feel full, reducing the urge to scour your pantry. "Have several types of beverages, such as still water, sparkling water, and herbal tea, available and visible," Blatner says. "It will remind you to drink, and it won’t be boring.”
Don’t eat in your workspace
When you eat while you work, your mind begins to expect those two activities to happen together. (Think of Pavlov's classically conditioned dog.) Stop this mental association in its tracks by eating meals or snacks at the table, away from your computer and workspace. This isn't just good for your waistline and computer keyboard (hello, crumbs), Blatner says. "It also allows you to eat more mindfully and enjoy food more."
Take social breaks
Working from home means you miss the social interaction and mental breaks that happen naturally in an office. Aka, you get bored more quickly. And when you get bored, food comes calling. Ward off its calls by taking "non-food breaks." Tara Coleman, a clinical nutritionist, recommends chatting with a friend, watching a short YouTube video, or cruising social media to replicate in-office interactions and keep the day from being monotonous. Need a change of scenery? Take a quick 20-minute walk to wake up your mind and prevent boredom.
Keep a food journal
Sometimes even when you're perfectly full and well-hydrated, you have an urge to snack. This could be the result of an uncomfortable emotion, like frustration, fear, anger, or loss of control, Detroyer says. Making note of what you're eating and how you're feeling can help you identify and better cope with those emotions.