During this stressful Coronavirus Pandemic time, most of us are trying our hardest just to get by. This means socially distancing from our family, friends, and coworkers so that we can remain healthy. It also means sustaining ourselves with whatever food is available in our homes so that we aren’t hungry. For some, that means whatever food that will get delivered to our doorsteps will have to suffice, and for others, it means eating extra healthy so that our immune systems don’t have to work too hard in case we become exposed to a coronavirus carrier. No matter what you consider to be your way of getting by, it’s probably not what it was before our country was put on pause and you became quarantined.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has shut down so many of our most important institutions like schools, nonessential businesses, places of worship, and governmental agencies, the general public has turned to what makes them feel better to comfort themselves. Many have turned to food to seek comfort and others have turned to drink alcohol. Some have turned to help others at their time of need while others have become more productive. For the sake of this article, I would like to concentrate on the fact that most use food to feel better about the situation happening right now which at least temporarily, makes us feel a bit better.
Our past routines allowed us to control what we ate when we ate and how much we ate because we had schedules that we all needed to adhere to. These days, all the days of the week seem to all blend together. Now that most of us are working from home, we can eat any meal at any time and it really doesn’t matter. -or does it? I think we all know the feeling of having unlimited access to our fridges and pantries. It feels kind of liberating, doesn’t it? No one is really judging or watching what or how much we are eating. No one… including ourselves. This is what is called mindless eating. Mindless eating can be habit-forming in a very bad way because it can cause us to overeat which subsequently promotes weight gain. It’s eating performed by our unconscious minds which means we are not consciously aware of the decisions we are making regarding the foods we are choosing to eat.
Between working from home, being home without a job, or being home with kids and trying to keep them busy and happy, we can probably all agree that we all have some kind of stress in our lives which then, unfortunately, can lead to mindless eating. Now the question is: How can we fight this?
Here are some tips to help you snack smarter and feel better during this quarantine:
a. Plan your snacks:
Random snacking is what most of us do when we are hungry between meals or even if we are just plain bored. Planning which snacks we are going to enjoy makes the process of choosing a snack less frustrating as well as quicker! We can decide ahead of time, like on a Sunday afternoon, which snacks we would like to eat for the week. We can then carve out portions for each day and plan some healthy snacking options so that the snacks we choose are healthier yet still satisfying. We can count the calories, carbs, fat, protein, and sodium so that when mindless snacking takes over, our mindful decisions have already been made for us! This eliminates the urge to grab unhealthy snacks whenever we feel the desire. Just remember to always wash your hands before eating.
b. Be consistent in your meals:
Have a consistent meal plan. Always ensure you eat healthy nutrition filled breakfast. In doing this you will ensure yourself of starting the day with a well-balanced meal that will carry throughout The whole day. Sticking to a regular schedule of eating a healthy meal two or three times a day so that you won’t have the breadbasket effect. The bread basket effect is when we finally eat after many hours of not eating and we overeat. This happens when we are offered a basket of bread when we go out for a meal at a restaurant. We attack the bread because we’re so hungry and end up eating so much of something we never even planned to eat or wanted to eat in the first place! So if we restrict our meals too much, we may feel hungry at odd times which can easily lead to unhealthy overeating. Knowing our own personal schedules of eating, activity, and working makes consistency our best friend in fighting the urge to overindulge on the “bread”. Ensuring our meals have the right amount of nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and sodium, and vitamins will keep us all feeling good, healthy, and strong enough to perform the tasks we need to complete throughout each day.
c. Snack right, snack smart:
What is smart snacking? Smart snacking is not just when we’re snacking or why we’re snacking…it’s what we’re snacking. We need to make sure we get the most bang for our buck. I mean this figuratively in the sense that we need to make sure that our snacks are not only satisfying our taste buds but also satisfying our need to push us through to the next meal. The best snacks for these needs are protein-rich snacks which will keep us going for a long time without feeling hungry, tired, or weak. Those snacks that contain high carbs won’t take us to the rest of the day without being hungry for more carbs shortly afterward and certainly won’t make us feel energized and ready to do more.
This is where Shrewd Food comes into the picture. As one of the most sensibly smart snack companies in the world, they have created a great tasting, healthy, crunchy, high protein snacks that everyone can enjoy. Their snacks are perfect for kids, athletes, diabetic patients, keto and paleo followers, and everyone in between. Their snacks also do not contain any artificial colors, preservatives, soy, dairy, or gluten.
They are exactly what a good snack should be; delicious, fresh, crunchy, satisfying, and healthy. Not to mention they can be delivered right to our doorsteps so they’re super easy to order online.
d. Understand why you’re eating:
This should make the list of the top ten survival skills during this quarantine season. We should all learn to differentiate our own specific reasons for why we are eating. Are we eating because the clock says it’s lunchtime, or are we eating because our stomachs are growling from being empty? Are we really hungry or are we merely bored?
A good way to determine hunger is through a scale from 1 to 10. 1-2 means very hungry. 3-4 means not too hungry. 5 is neutral. 6-8 is satisfied. 9 to 10 is very full to the point where you feel uncomfortable.
Finding your right level of hunger at a given point will help you become a more mindful eater. Try to understand your hunger level before you run into the kitchen and eat the first thing you see because it probably won’t be what you really need (unless you’ve placed your preplanned snacks out accordingly -good job!). Try to understand the difference between emotional eating (like being bored or frustrated) and physiological eating (because you’re hungry from not eating for a few hours or more). If you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry, maybe it’s time to stop yourself and think about what could be wrong. Are you anxious, bored, stressed, or eating because the snack is close to you? identifying the triggers can help you eliminate them later on.
e. Drink lots of water:
We need to keep our bodies hydrated every day. We will feel less hungry if we are all properly hydrated. This includes taking in other sources of fluids that will flush out our toxins and lubricate our organs like fruits and vegetables.
Keeping water nearby while working or watching TV will keep us satisfied until we are really hungry. That way, our bodies are taking in enough water daily without even really trying!
f. Stay busy:
Do something every day that you enjoy. Maybe even take up a new hobby or interest that you would never have had enough time to do if we weren’t quarantined like yoga or learning a TikTok dance! Being busy and having fun while doing it makes the days go by faster and it will help you look forward to the next time you do it! No one likes to be bored, so before you get to the point of boredom, write down a list of fun, productive, or necessary tasks that you think you may want to begin instead of digging into the cookie jar. Excessive snacking increases once boredom kicks in, so let’s try to avoid that before we get to that point! I’m sure we’ll all be surprised at what we each can accomplish if we put a little thought and time into staying busy and enjoying it!
g. One slice at a time :
Portion control is harder than it sounds because we have to listen to our hearts and our heads. We all want that extra slice of pizza, but are we really hungry enough to have that right after we ate the first slice? Chances are we are not… we just want it -we don’t need it. What we need to do is to start controlling the quantity of the foods we are eating. Controlling our portions. If we control our portions, we will reduce the number of calories we consume. This is the key to smart snacking. If we choose the right snacks, we need to make sure the quantities we are eating don’t sabotage our successes. We can order healthy snacks in portion-controlled bags delivered every week so that we don’t have an overabundance within our reach. We can also divide our snacks into single-serve bags ourselves so we can just grab and go (or in this case, grab and stay).
Making it through this pandemic means many things to many people. However you choose to define this, it makes you more aware of the changes you need to make in order for you to survive. It could mean surviving the actual virus, it could mean surviving living with your mother in law, it could mean surviving to work from home with a house filled with bored kids or it could mean that your clothes still fit you when this pandemic is hopefully over. However, you choose to “make it through” I wish you success, good health and happy smart snacking.