Since we are all spending so much time at home now many people have reached out asking for strategies to combat sugar cravings, COVID19 weight gain and how to prevent unhealthy eating habits. So I thought it was time I wrote a post to share some healthy nutrition strategies with you.
Having the kitchen in close reach makes it easy to just nibble all day or emotionally eat. I spent the first 6 years of my career working mostly from home and cafe-hopping as an entrepreneur so I have some really great strategies for staying healthy while working from home.
While some of these strategies are common sense, others such as not eating every few hours may be new to you. It's important to recognize that everyone is different, so tweak according to what works best for you and your body!
1. You're at home you make the rules
So on that note, eat when you're actually hungry! Just because it’s 12 noon and the time you would normally take a lunch break at work doesn’t mean you have to eat at that time - you’re at home, you make the rules! Eat when you’re actually hungry. The key here is to listen to your body. Do you have that gnawing feeling in your belly? Is your tummy growling? If the answer to those question is yes, and you're not intermittent fasting then it is an excellent time to eat.
If not, have a big glass of water because you may just be thirsty and it's okay to delay having a meal.
Listening to your body and eating when you're hungry has many benefits such as improved digestion and elimination.
2. You might not benefit from snacking every few hours
You don’t have to snack every 2-3 hours despite what you’ve been told or you may have heard. Unless you're a body builder, you can ignore that advice. The advice that you should be snacking between meals may not work for you because it assumes we are all the same, have the same metabolism, biochemistry, and we do not.
For instance, I rarely have a morning snack because I’m not hungry between breakfast and lunch, but the afternoon is a longer stretch between meals so sometimes I have a snack. The key here is just like my previous point, listen to your body.
Every time you eat, you're using up your digestive enzymes and stomach acids. This is one of the reasons I believe many people are bloated by dinnertime (if food sensitivities have been ruled out) and don't feel hungry because they've been eating all day and depleting these necessary chemicals to facilitate complete digestion.
3. Drink water or herbal tea throughout the day
Drink water. Most people do not drink enough water and end up eating when they are actually thirsty. I never measure my water intake. I just drink water throughout the day and make sure my pee is pale yellow. There are many physical and physiological benefits for drinking water. These include healthy skin, reduction in migraines and headaches, great digestion and more.
Remember herbal teas that contain no caffiene are considered part of your water consumption.
Also, if you eat a lot of hydrating foods like fruits and veggies and hydrating meals like smoothies and soups, you'll find you are less thirsty. I love adding cucumber and strawberries to water. It infuses such a lovely taste!
4. Treat yourself but make it truly special
Since you’re working from home, you probably have access to more treats than you would at work so you’ll want to avoid getting into a habit of having dessert after every single meal or eating a bag of chips at your computer every afternoon.
If you're going to indulge in something indulgent like say... a bag of chips or a croissant, then make it a special occasion treat. Not something you'll have every day so you can really savour and enjoy it to the fullest. The key is to really recognize with awareness that it is a special treat.
When you do have a treat (like this Maca Chocolate Avocado Pudding pictured above), make it a healthy treat and nutritionally dense indulgence. That way you won't want or need to pound back a bowl of chocolate Haagen Daz! This kind of dessert (avo pudding) can be more than once in a while of course because there are many health promoting benefits.
No matter what it is you're eating, try eating with awareness. How to do that? Here are 3 steps:
1. Sit down when you eat, even if it's a snack. Avoid eating in your home office or at a desk, instead eat at the kitchen table.
2. Take a moment of gratitude for your meal or snack. This takes only a second but it helps you be more mindful and therefore completely aware of what you're going to enjoy.
3. Chew your food to a paste. As I talked about in my very first book Joyous Health, chewing your whole meal until a paste is the first stage of healthy digestion and gives your gut enough time to signal to the brain that you are now full.
5. Limit the extremes: Super salty or super sweet
Avoid having a bowl of salted roasted almonds while sitting at your desk all day. Any sort of extreme taste, be it super salty or super sweet, is addictive and lights up the addiction areas of your brain and promotes a surge of dopamine. This is why sugar is so darn addictive.
Solution: Avoid it! If you want to have a snack, then take a handful and enjoy, but not at your desk or work station which brings me to my next point...
6. eat away from your desk or home office
Eat away from the area you’re working in. If you live in a 500 sq ft condo, then clear away your work papers/computer or notebook when you are going to have a meal. Make every meal as enjoyable as possible. When you’re eating mindfully and focussed on the task at hand, you’ll have better digestion, a better sense of when you’re full and it will be far more enjoyable.
7. Eat the best quality food you can afford
Stick with 1-ingredient food and you’ll never go wrong - meaning buy food ingredients with the intention of making something. This means you'll avoid packaged foods that have numerous food additives and food-like chemicals. Have you tried this Golden Soup or Golden Smoothie yet?
8. Have a bit of a plan for your daily meals
Just like if you were working a 9-5 job (remember when!?!) and you’d bring your lunch to the office, and have a sense of what you’d like to eat for lunch. There’s no reason why you can’t make your lunch in the morning so it’s ready to go! I love making soups, salads and smoothies or superfood drinks to enjoy later on.
I hope these 8 strategies help you feel confident through COVID19 quarantine -- you got this!
Ps. Share with me below what you've been doing to stay healthy and joyous through COVID19!