5 ways to stave off mindless or emotional eating
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While we’re all staying home to help contain the spread of Covid-19, don’t let boredom or worry affect your health and eating habits. Here’s five ways to snack more mindfully while you’re staying at home.
Whether you are still working from home or just trying to stay occupied as you spend time indoors, you may find yourself consuming more food – or worse, more junk food – than before.
“This is because stress, anxiety, monotony and easy access to our fridges and pantries can make us especially vulnerable to developing unhealthy eating habits,” says Discovery Vitality dietitian Terry Harris.
By becoming more mindful about what you put into your mouth, you can avoid unhealthy weight gain and feed your body the nutrients it needs at a time when good physical health is especially relevant.
Here are Terry’s top five tips to help you snack more mindfully while you’re staying home:
1. Stock up on tasty and nutritious snacks
Snacking healthily can help you meet your nutrient requirements. For example, eat homemade popcorn with little or no salt, fresh fruit, plain yoghurt, unsalted nuts, baby tomatoes, sugar-and-salt-free peanut butter on apple wedges, a smoothie prepared with frozen banana and plain yoghurt, veg crudités, or rice cakes with mashed avo, hummus or cottage cheese.
2. Avoid having unhealthy snacks in the house
Having less healthy snacks within easy reach makes them especially difficult to resist. Resist loading your trolley or online shopping cart with packets of potato chips, biscuits, sweets, chocolate, biltong, pastries, salami, sausages and cold meat. Rather swop them with the healthy snacks suggested above.
3. Plan your snacks for the day
Use the weekend to plan your meals and snacks for the week ahead. Then portion out your day’s snacks each morning and set them aside. Set a jug of fresh water beside it so you’re more likely to drink water when you’re thirsty, instead of a sugary drink.
4. Watch your portion sizes
Snacking can significantly add to your kilojoule intake if you’re not paying attention. To stay mindful of how much you eat, you can:
- Keep a food diary
Put the snacks in smaller bowls
Never eat straight from the bag or box
Eat slowly to avoid overeating
Practise ‘portion caution’. Here are some cues to help you understand the recommended portion sizes per snack:
- Nuts = half a handful
- Fruit or vegetables = clenched fist
- You should have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
5. Don’t snack while watching TV
It’s very easy to eat too much without realising it when you’re distracted by a screen. Stay satiated by eating regular, healthy and balanced meals, not staying up too late, and reaching for a glass of water or a healthy hot beverage (like herbal teas without sugar) instead of a snack.
These tips are not just valid during this period, they are healthy eating habits that will help you cultivate a healthy body and mind over time, says Terry.