13 Tips to Stop Snacking While You're Staying Home
Snacking when you’re bored is a hard habit to break, especially when you’re spending more time at home and doing less socializing (hello, emotional eating). Grazing is also deeply ingrained in our modern work culture.
Whether you’re WFH or in the office, readily accessible snacks in our daily lives make it easy to have the munchies all day long. Mini meals are great for recharging. But, if you’re not keeping track, those 100-calorie packs of almonds can add up. Thankfully, you can learn to how to embrace healthy snacking and tame the munchies.
Try these tips to stop snacking when you’re bored. Eliminating unnecessary calories could help you lose or maintain healthy weight.
1. Schedule snack times
“When you’re home, it’s important to stick to a regular schedule for meals, snacks, and breaks,” explains Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, FAND, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes. “It will help you avoid nonstop grazing when you’re bored or stressed.”
2. Nosh mindfully
“Snacking all day is not so much the issue,” says Sheth. “Depending on your lifestyle and metabolism, you might actually need the calories. However, mindlessly snacking is a concern.”
If you’re staring at a phone or computer screen and eating while you’re distracted, you might be loading up on extra calories.
3. Explore other ways to deal
“It’s 100% normal to snack when you’re bored because food offers the fastest path to comfort, but you need to ID why you’re snacking,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a registered dietitian based in New York City. “Is it entertainment, stress, or sadness? The goal is to practice other ways to cope with those emotions and have several tools in your toolbox instead of only seeking solace in food.”
4. Don’t ban treats
“Deciding that a food choice is off limits can often have a halo effect, where you start to want that food even more,” says Sheth.
A better alternative is to consider what you’re craving. Then, either find a healthy snacking option or eat that treat in moderation.
5. Contemplate a chocolate square
Try a mindful eating exercise. This technique helps you savor food by engaging all of your senses, such as touch, smell, and hearing (listen to the crackle of that chocolate wrapper).
“You might be amazed at how differently a piece of chocolate tastes using this method,” says Sheth.
6. Walk away from a snack attack
If your thoughts are focusing too much on nibbling, shift your mind in a different direction with some exercise.
“Whether it’s a walk in your neighborhood or a home workout, find a fun, physical activity,” recommends Sheth. “Put on some music and have a dance party, or try an online yoga or fitness class.”
7. Stay connected to your social network
Anxiety and stress from spending too much time on your own can lead to emotional eating.
“With many social events cancelled, it’s especially important to stay connected virtually,” says Sheth. “Talking with friends and family will allow you to commiserate and avoid feeling isolated.”
8. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Our bodies can sometimes confuse the sensations of hunger and thirst.
“When you’re working, keep a water bottle next to you to remind you to sip water throughout the day,” advises Sheth. “You can make it more flavorful and satisfying by infusing it with fruit, veggies, or herbs — or try sparkling water because it’s bubbly and fun.”
9. Prioritize healthy sleep
“If you’re lying awake at night stressed out, that disruption to your sleep can promote extra snacking during the day,” says Cassetty.
Lack of sleep can mess with the hormones that control appetite. When you’re struggling to sleep, relaxation techniques can help you drift to dreamland quicker — and exercise can also help you slumber more restfully.
10. Pump up the volume
For days when you still feel like plowing through an entire bag of chips, air-popped popcorn is a great alternative because a serving size is three cups and it has fiber, explains Sheth. (Fiber keeps you full longer.)
“You can get creative and add your own spice mixtures to popcorn to make it more interesting,” she says.
Cut-up crunchy veggies (like cucumbers, carrots, celery, or bell peppers) have low calorie density and may help fulfill your desire to munch.
11. Take the pace down a notch
“A serving size of pistachios in their shells is a good way to slow down your eating,” says Sheth. “Look for snack options that take a little effort.”
When boredom is making you peckish, consider chomping on pumpkin or sunflower seeds in their shell, snacking on edamame in pods, or even mixed nuts you have to open with a nutcracker.
12. Downsize it
When you buy a bulk-size bag of trail mix to save some cash, measure it out into serving-size containers or reusable baggies.
“Instead of a gallon- or pint-size ice cream, you can also buy individual tubs or bars to avoid overeating,” recommends Sheth.
13. Give yourself a break
“I notice a couple of things that happen when you over-snack,” says Cassetty. “One is you may throw in the towel altogether because you feel defeated and the other is that you might beat yourself up about it. Staying healthy isn’t about one day or one meal. Eating well includes splurges. Look at the big picture and learn kinder ways to talk to — and about — yourself.”