Healthy Snacking While Working from Home
Written by: Norine Khalil, MSc RD
And just like that, Labor Day is here, and we’re in the last quarter of this (insert desired expletive and/or descriptor) year. With more time at home, and less time on our feet, many of us have found our step count includes trips back and forth to the kitchen. Working from home, or staying at home, has come with a mixed bag of emotions – and we all know emotions can impact our appetite. Whether you are someone who skips meals, or someone who’s appetite increases in the face of change, the following tips are for you!
To snack or not to snack?
Ahh, that is the question. Snacking can be a very effective way of keeping your blood sugar levels stable over a long day, which is something we absolutely want when we’re looking to improve our energy levels and mental sharpness. If you find that your energy levels rise and fall throughout the day, and you’re reaching for another cup of coffee, or something sweet for a little “pick me up”, snacks are likely a good idea. The key to snacking is: portions and pairing.
To help avoid a snack turning into another full meal, keep the following serving sizes in mind for some of your common snack grabs:
· Fruit – 1 medium fruit (e.g. apple, orange), ½ banana, 1 cup berries
· Nuts – ¼ cup, or the size of your palm
· Seeds – 1 oz, or roughly 2 tbsp
· Yogurt – ½ cup
· Cheese – 1-2 oz (1 oz is the size of a cheese stick!)
· Hummus – ¼ cup
· Eggs – 2 boiled eggs
· Vegetables – 1-2 cups (raw)
Keep in mind, everyone’s body is different – so your serving sizes may need some tweaking, but this is a good place to start!
Grabbing an apple or a banana is always the easiest way to fuel up between meetings, but it may not be the most satisfying. Fruits, or other simple carbohydrates, are digested very quickly and cause a swift spike to the blood sugar. But what comes up must come down, and often with the spike comes a crash 20-30 minutes after. To avoid these drastic highs and lows in energy and blood sugar levels, pair your carbohydrate snack options with a source of protein or fat to stabilize blood sugar and keep you energized for longer throughout the day.
Marie Kondo your Kitchen!
Making smart snack decisions is much harder when you’re having to bob and weave through the pretzels and potato chips to get to the trail mix, am I right? As summer winds down, now is the perfect time to declutter your kitchen and set it up to promote decisions that will keep you fueled and ready to take on the day.
· Move some of the “treats” to the back of your cupboards, and move your healthy snacks front and center.
· Portion your snacks into containers or freezer bags and stack them for easy grab-and-go options
· Organize your refrigerator to make snack decisions quick and painless. Dedicate a shelf to produce, like carrots, celery, peppers and cucumbers, and others to your protein options like boiled eggs, cheese sticks, and yogurt!
· Create snack boxes ahead of time. Bento Boxes are such an easy way to fuel up mid-day. Invest in bento box containers and pack them with fiber-rich, protein-rich foods to satisfy when you really need them. For example, a boiled egg, ¼ cup of almonds, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and ¼ cup hummus.
For those of us that spend hours at our desk at a time, having some easy grabs at your desk is a must! Having pre-portioned containers of a few of these options can help you refuel when you need it most:
· Healthy trail mix (mixed unsalted nut, dark chocolate chips)
· Banana and almond butter sandwiches
· Almond butter-stuffed dates
· Roasted chickpeas
In addition to the above tips, hydrating throughout the day is crucial for energy and concentration. And no, that mug of wine masquerading as coffee doesn’t count! Hydrating with water, or herbal teas can help reduce the risk of dehydration-related fatigue. Try to limit consumption of coffee or other caffeinated beverages after 2:00pm, and notice if your balanced snacks are giving you the boost you need. Spoiler alert: they probably will.
Sending you positive vibes as we enter this final quarter of 2020! For more tips or support with your diet and nutrition goals, book a visit online today!