If you're one of the millions who are now working from home due to coronavirus, you'll probably feel like you're more than familiar with the four walls around you at this point.
Social distancing has introduced an unprecedented sameness to your daily routine that will likely pave the way for boredom, and boredom usually equals unnecessary snacking.
Pair that with the fact the supermarkets are only sparsely stocked with food (no thanks to the rush of people panic-buying 12 packs of pasta at a time) and it's not exactly ideal to be drilling through your grazing supplies at super-speed.
But stopping snacking is easier said than done, so we enlisted the help of Yvonne Wake, a registered public health nutritionist at Karidis clinic, to share some useful advice on how to go about it.
1. Become a mindful eater
"As more of us begin to work from home, and cancel plans such as going out for a drink or not seeing anyone, our mindset is used to receiving rewards when we are feeling sad or low," says Wake. And that's where snacking comes in. "Our mindset says that we deserve a gift, but our mindset has to change. We have become mindless eaters instead of mindful eaters," she explains.
Mindfulness – which involves being actively present in whatever you're doing at any given moment – is "essential in healthy eating", advises the nutritionist. "Being present whilst you eat is essential in helping us avoid reaching for the cupboards when we think we are hungry."
2. Don't stock up on the wrong things
The first rule of thumb to avoid a basket full of purple-packaged goods? "Don't go to the supermarket if you are feeling hungry," warns Wake. "You get such easy access to unhealthy food as it is just next to the counter. Prevent a craving by having your lunch first."
When you do go to the supermarket (or shop online), focus on buying "complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, all vegetables, beans, brown rice, quinoa, apples, berries, banana for example, as the sugar seeps into your body slowly throughout the day and keeps you feeling fuller for longer." That's if there are any complex carbohydrates left on the shelves, of course.
3. Snack on food containing tryptophan
We didn't know what tryptophan was either. But according to the nutritionist, it's "an essential amino acid which will help the body to make proteins and brain signalling chemicals, which turn into serotonin that will control mood and help sleep patterns." Foods containing the amino acid include bananas, salmon, nuts, seeds and eggs - all great snacking foods. "Turkey is also a great boost for serotonin levels which can help stabilise your mood," adds Wake.
4. Cook wholesome recipes
The idea being, if you "make proper food" then "there is absolutely no need to snack anyway." The nutritionist recommends you "start working from those recipes that you’ve always wanted to make, and eat proper meals at the table. If you are alone, cook for a few days and either freeze or eat the same food over two days. If you eat protein each day, you will not feel like snacking."
5. Drink, drink, drink
No, not the alcoholic kind (though we'll allow you a glass of wine or two to get you through these tense times). "Herbal teas and drinking water is a bit of trick to prevent excessive snacking, because we become full after drinking water," advises the expert.
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