During this crazy time of the pandemic, many people are having to work from home or have been furloughed. Additionally, we were hardly given any notice, and before you knew it, people were stockpiling any foods they could find. This included many non-perishable goods such as unhealthy snacks. More time at home, as well as increased stress levels, often leads to more time spent in the kitchen searching for snacks and anything tasty to nibble on. For most, snacks tend to be the naughty option and it can be hard to curb those cravings for sweet treats or fatty foods. And as time at home keeps getting extended, so do our waistlines. So it can be helpful to know how to snack better at home.
Although this article is aimed at ways to snack better at home, this is not to say many people didn’t snack unhealthily when they were at their place of work or out and about. But as more people are working from home with less of a routine than in a workplace, it can make it more challenging. A recent study done in the USA by the NPD (NPD’s Snack Food Behaviors in Challenging Times) showed that treats and snack foods (both savoury and sweet) have increased by 8% this year during the pandemic (compared to the Great Recession in 2008-2010 which increased 1%) (1). These tips can be applied in most cases to help better snack at home, at the workplace or if on the go.
Top Tips to Snack Better at Home
With careful planning, prepping and consideration, healthy snacking is easier than you think.
1. Think before you snack
It is really easy to reach for the most convenient snack as soon as you feel like having one. But think before you do. Are you really hungry? Perhaps you are thirsty or just bored. Try having some water to drink or keep yourself busy to avoid snacking if you don’t actually need one.
2. Plan & prep in advance
Planning out some healthy snacks (and meals) for your day can be a huge help. Chop up some carrots or cucumber to have with hummus, or boil some eggs to have sliced up with some spinach and avocado. Portion out a small handful of nuts or dried fruit.
3. Snack-size matters
Like with all meals, your overall portion size can make it or break it. If you are going to have a snack, apart from choosing a healthy option, make sure it is not too big a portion. Using a small plate or ramekin dish can help you to control your portions.
4. Choose your snacks to fill the gap
When choosing what to snack on, try and fill the gap with extra valuable nutrients. Having some fruit will provide fibre, water and a whole load of vitamins and minerals that a bag of crisps won’t give you.
5. Limit caffeine, and stay well hydrated
Having that 5th cup of coffee may not seem like a snack, but if it’s loaded with sugar, or super milky, it all adds up. Not to mention that too much caffeine affects your quality of sleep, can cause headaches and anxiety. Limit your caffeine to 2 cups avoiding sugar if you can. Make sure to drink plenty of water which is a much more powerful option for keeping alert, as well as helping to cut sugar cravings.
6. Only have healthy snacks at home
When it comes to choosing snacks when shopping, make sure to choose healthy snack options for at home (see list below). It is really helpful to shop after you have eaten and are not hungry, as you are less likely to choose unhealthy options.
7. Don’t multitask while snacking
Just like when you eat a main meal, your snacking should be focused on too. Avoid eating this in front of your laptop or TV. Take a break and enjoy your snack. Besides, a break will help you to focus better when you get back to work. Go for grains, fruit, protein and healthy fats
8. Go for grains, fruit, protein and healthy fats
When choosing snacks, opt for a combination of nutrients. Fibre, protein and/or healthy fats will help keep you more satisfied and less likely to reach for that chocolate hidden away. And fruit will not only provide you with fibre as well as multivitamins and phytonutrients, but also (hopefully) hit that sweet spot.
9. Make healthy, simple swaps
Instead of having the usual and easy snacks, make a simple swap to a healthier alternative. Instead of crisps, choose light homemade popcorn; instead of sweets, swap them for a small portion of dried fruit. Swap a cinnamon roll or doughnut for a slice of cinnamon or fruit bread with light cream cheese.
Healthy Snack Suggestions
- A hard-boiled egg, sliced, with 1/4 avocado and handful of spinach and lemon juice
- A piece of fruit, any fruit
- Turkey or chicken breast slices with cottage cheese in a lettuce cup
- Sliced apple with a small portion of peanut or almond butter
- Sliced apple with a small amount of cheddar cheese
- Rice cakes or wholegrain crackers with light cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes and basil
- Sliced up pita with beetroot hummus
- Carrot sticks and light hummus
- Sliced cucumber with tzatziki
- Sliced red pepper with a small portion homemade guacamole
- Celery with nut butter or light cream cheese
- A small portion (palm size) of unsalted nuts or/and dried fruit – be mindful as nuts and dried fruit do contain high amounts of fat and sugar respectively
- Blended fruit and veg shake ( I love mango, pineapple , spinach and carrot, but you can mix whatever you like)
- Frozen (or regular) sliced banana with almond butter
- Greek yoghurt with cinnamon and berries
- Greek yoghurt with cinnamon and 1-2 Tbs nutty granola
- 1 square dark chocolate and small portion (around 10) whole almonds
- Edamame beans
- Pear slices with ricotta or cottage cheese and cinnamon
- Chia pudding pot (rich in omega 3 and fibre)
The Final Word
Although it is easy to turn to unhealthy snacking, with a little prep and thought, snacking can easily be made healthy and tasty too! Take some time on a Sunday to plan ahead. Plan what to buy from the shops and what you are going to make. Some snacks can even be made ahead of time, ready for you to grab when you needed, so you are less likely to reach for the unhealthy options (if you allowed them into your kitchen in the first place). Different ways work for different people, but hopefully these tips will help you to snack better at home (or when out).