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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.
You'll have stronger stomach acids and enzymes to properly digest and assimilate the food you eat. This means less bloating and easier 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!
Hello Joy, I don't really have any tips to share about Covid -19 except to say that I have throughly enjoyed following you and your recipes during this social isolation time! I saw a show you did on City TV about three years ago and honestly, you had me at sweet potato brownies:) I have been making them ever since then for special occasions ( I do have a sweet tooth.) Anyway, since I am now at home I have had the time to explore a wide variety of your recipes including soups, smoothies and main dishes. I love them all! Thank you for posting some of your recipes online! I am going to try the Beet Bean burger this week. I would love to try some of your desserts (to satisfy my sweet cravings) but do not have a food processor as of yet. BTW I am a senior (67 years) and am committed to maintaining my health by eating properly as well as getting proper exercise and sleep. Thank you for sharing your recipes and your health tips.Reply
Hi Risa, thank you for your thoughtful comment, I really appreciate it. I hope this pandemic ends so I can go back on Cityline I love that show! Glad to hear you've been loving those delicious brownies. The Beet Bean Burgers are sooooo yummy!! That's amazing you're committed to taking good care of yourself. Take care and stay healthy :)
Hi Joy Love your Recipes as I am trying to eliminate wheat, gluten is ok Why do i get constipated when I eat recipes with coconut or almond flour? Is this common? Cheers CandiseReply
Hi Candise, it could be that you have a sensitivity to these foods. Here are some posts for you to read: https://www.joyoushealth.com/27272-blog-9-natural-ways-to-prevent-constipation-and-deal-with-it-in-children
I know that post is for kids but all the the same info applies!
Love this post! Another good tip that helps me is I make sure to not do groceries on an empty stomach so I'm less tempted to buy unhealthy foods. Instead I load up my cart with a lot of healthy foods, so when I'm working from home I don't have the temptation in the house. I like to prep on the weekend so I have healthy foods on hand. Today I put together a Buddha bowl, it was loaded with different vegetables, some fresh strawberries, almonds, sauerkraut, quinoa, lentils and a healthy salad dressing that I put together on Saturday. I also find that I am eating less since I get to get up at 6:45 now instead of 5:00 am. I don't need that morning snack anymore.Reply
Hi Joy, I’m at home with my 2 girls and husband. I try to have a lot of one ingredient items in the house like fruits, veggies and we make a lot of things together - when kids help make it they’re more likely to eat it! Keeping busy and engaged helps us not eat from boredom too!Reply
That's awesome Nicole, thank you for sharing!