How to eat well when you're spending more time at home
Many of us are spending more time within our homes at the moment. This means we have easier access to food and this can lead to overeating, particularly when it comes to snacks. Here we'll look at some advice to help you eat well, when spending more time at home.
1. Try to start your day with breakfast
Not everyone swears by breakfast to start their day, but do try and eat something otherwise you’ll definitely be reaching for mid-morning snacks. It's also a meal that helps you tick off some of your nutritional requirements for the day. As a reminder, we’re aiming for a balanced breakfast that contains some carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats (unsaturated fats).
Some speedy-to-make options to help you achieve this include, nut butter on a wholemeal bagel with some fruit, overnight oats with fresh fruit and nuts or cereal with milk and chopped fruit or berries. On the weekends, when you may have more time to prepare this meal, try poached or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or avocado.
2. Eat a decent-sized lunch
Our body needs a certain amount of calories (energy) to get us through the day regardless of the amount of exercise you do. If you under-eat in the earlier part of the day, you may find that you're snacking more during the latter part of the day because your body is needing the energy.
Try having a slightly larger lunch and see if that makes a difference. This could simply be adding a small pudding such as a yoghurt with fruit or serving yourself a slightly larger portion than usual.
3. Ideal snacks
Snacking helps to bridge the gaps between meals for adults and kids alike. The advice is to try and aim for healthier snacks that are nutrient-dense to help you reach your nutritional intake goals for the day. Think fruit, energy balls, plain yoghurt with berries, fruit, oat cakes etc.
However, if you fancy a ‘less healthy’ option then don’t restrict yourself. Less healthy options fit within a balanced diet and restricting yourself can lead to bingeing rather than enjoying them when you feel like them.
To help with healthier snack selection, make sure they are easy to reach and visible. Keep fruit out in a bowl and have other items ready in the fridge or cupboard.
4. Hungry, thirsty or bored?
Sometimes we snack because we’re genuinely hungry, and sometimes we snack because we’re bored, tired or stressed. If you're eating proper, balanced meals (as highlighted above) and sticking roughly to your usual meal times, you may not need to bridge the gap to your next meal with a snack.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't have one, but it can be easy to snack throughout the day particularly when you’re working from home or spending more time at home as we currently are.
If you’re reaching for snacks more frequently than you used to, think about the following:⠀
- Are you thirsty? As thirst and hunger signals are processed by the same area of the brain, we can sometimes mistake thirst for hunger which in theory can lead to snacking rather than grabbing a drink. If you feel hungry but think you’ve eaten sufficiently, try drinking a glass of water and see whether you still feel hungry in 15 minutes or so. ⠀
- Are you bored? Try a little movement, read a book, distract yourself with something else. If you still fancy the snack, then go for it.
5. Mix up your meals
Variety is really important in our diets as it provides a greater spread of nutrition and prevents fatigue or boredom from certain dishes or meals. However, humans are very habitual and often stick to what we know.
During this time at home, try to mix things up a little on the meal front. Grab your cookery books off the shelves or look online and challenge yourself to a few new recipes. Failing that, try a few different vegetables or grains which will also have the added benefit of upping and diversifying your fibre intake.
Fibre is a really important nutrient that many of us don’t eat enough of. It supports our digestive systems and helps to encourage diversity within our gut microbiomes which in turn supports our immune health.