Stress eating is a real thing, and there’s no doubt about it, this is an extremely stressful time for everyone. People are worried about their jobs, and they’re concerned about getting sick, or even worse, getting a loved one sick. With all this pent-up stress and nowhere to go, it’s easy to develop bad eating habits while cooped up. Especially considering you just stocked up on all your favourite snacks to get you through this pandemic!
The good news is, snacking is a great way to manage hunger, and you shouldn’t shy away from it. Under eating is just as harmful to your body as overeating, but the trick is making sure you’re snacking smart! So, we’ve put together some tips to help you do just that.
A smart snack should be just that, a snack. Enjoy healthy snacks providing fibre and protein – and you will experience a positive impact on your energy level! A great way to control your portions is to put your snack in a small plate or bowl; this will help keep you from overeating and stress eating.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: FIBRE IS YOUR FRIEND! Health Canada recommends Canadian women eat 25 grams of fibre per day and men 38 grams of fibre per day, and for a good reason. Fibre has many benefits, one of them being weight management. It also helps to prevents tons of uncomfortable disorders that can form later on like diverticular disease, even hemorrhoids. Adding fibre to your diet doesn’t need to be a pain in the butt; in fact, it’s a wonderful way to make your snacks both healthier and more filling! Consider having a tasty snack of hummus and broccoli instead of reaching for that bag of chips next time you place your grocery order. Or a delicious bowl of oatmeal with some honey and berries can be a snack at any time of the day, not just breakfast.
If you’re struggling to find fresh or frozen high fibre veggies during these trying times, you can also consider trying things like oral nutritional supplements containing fibre. These nutritional drinks come in a convenient ready-to-drink format, they can be taken as a meal replacement or, in small amounts, as a snack when your reserves are low, and you’re waiting for that next grocery order.
Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet and goes a long way to helping you feel full! You should be trying to get protein from a variety of different sources, according to Health Canada. Things like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, lean meats, fish and eggs are excellent sources of protein. Mixing things like nuts to your snacks is a quick and easy way to increase fibre and protein and may help you feel full longer. You can also add more protein to your diet with options like protein bars, make sure you’re reading the labels. They provide both protein and fibre, and they are delicious!
Netflix and chill with a bag of chips! What could be better? Turns out, mindlessly eating in front of the TV is one of the biggest reasons for over-snacking. When we eat on autopilot while our minds are busy focusing on something else, we can miss cues from our bodies that let us know that we’re full.
Andrea Hardy, Registered Dietitian and gut health expert says: “We should be eating the moment we sense hunger, not when we are starving. When we eat, we should eat slowly and spend time to chew our food thoroughly. Giving your body enough time to sense fullness allows us to eat less food and digest better. So, the next time you eat, put away your smartphone or digital gadgets and focus on your plate – you will have better control over your appetite from overeating.”
A big reason why we tend to reach for things like chips and cookies is the convenience of it. They’re just sitting right there in your cupboard, ready to be pillaged. So, planning out and prepping healthy snacks that are easy to grab, come in handy when you start to feel the need to munch. Do things like pre-cut veggies to dip in your hummus or mix up some granola with nuts and dried fruits for a quick handful of fibre packed protein. Healthy foods don’t need to be boring, be creative and have fun when planning your snacks.
If you have been struggling with either stress eating or under eating during this difficult time, give these tips a try. Making proactive steps to manage your hunger and snacking will take the additional worry of managing your nutrition off your plate.