Tight waistband, extra corona kilos and a feeling that your work from home snacking is out of control?
You're not alone. Many of my regular nutrition clients are reporting the same issues, so let's start the week right with my tips on blitzing your snacking habit.
A snack should be thought of as a "mini meal" – a mix of food that is substantial enough to keep you full and satisfied for at least a couple of hours.
Common snacks we grab such as muffins, biscuits, packets of crackers and chips are highly processed and full of carbohydrates that are digested relatively quickly. We are left unsatisfied, craving more sweet food and more likely to overeat in general. A predictable eating cycle, and soon enough a real habit.
Every time you boil the kettle, grab a coffee or even sit at the desk you are looking for something to eat.
Nutritionally, a well-balanced snack should contain 100-200 calories along with some protein and/or dietary fibre to slow digestion and keep you fuller for longer after eating.
This includes cheese and crackers, nuts and fruit, a protein based nut or snack bar.
Whether or not you need to snack is largely individual. For active people who eat breakfast early and are genuinely hungry midmorning, a snack may be warranted. For many others who do not eat breakfast until 8 or 9am, it is unlikely a snack is required prior to lunchtime.
For most people, the longest period of time in between meals is that between lunch and dinner, and as such a 3-4pm top up, if hunger is experienced, will help prevent late afternoon binge eating.
Very few of us genuinely need to snack after dinner, and as such if you must eat extra food throughout the evening, low calorie foods are best.
In an ideal world, we would eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full, but let's be honest, this is easier said than done, especially when you find yourself within easy reach of the fridge.
If you know you are guilty of mindless munching, knowing your lower calorie options is one way to help manage non-hungry snacking. Popcorn, herbal tea, piccolo coffees, berries, low calorie hot chocolates and verge sticks are all options that will satisfy your need to chew, minus too many extra calories.
Most importantly, if your goal is to reduce snacking, the key is to avoid keeping tempting foods in the home. It has been shown that one of the strongest predictors of discretionary or "extra" food consumption is availability. This means that if you keep biscuits, chocolates, lollies and other treats at home, you will eat them. So basically if you do not buy it, it is difficult to eat it and one of the easiest ways to control high calorie snacking.