Given the current climate and the rise in Australians working from home (30% of us to be exact), it is no surprise that our eating habits have changed dramatically over the past few months.
According to recent data from the Australian Heart Foundation, 1 in 3 individuals have indicated that their diets had ’worsened’ as a means of eating due to stress, emotion or as the result of food unavailability.
If this all sounds too familiar and you are snacking a little too often, you are not alone! It’s important to remember that in times of uncertainty it is completely normal to turn to food for comfort measures or to fill an emotional void. The main thing is that you don’t feel guilty for partaking in these behaviours and implement sustainable changes that help you feel in control around food to keep you feeling your best.
To help you get back on track, we have collated our top dietitian approved tips to keep you feeling your absolute best while working from home. We promise there are no restrictive diets or cutting out your favourite foods.
1. Implement a meal and snack time routine that mimics your eating habits in the office
Greater access to the pantry and fridge can often mean reaching for food more often than you would if you were working in the office. Setting yourself a simple yet flexible eating routine can prevent eating out of boredom or because the food is ‘looking at you’, for the lack of a better term. I think we can all relate to the idea that if we know there is food within arms length we are more likely to reach for it. If you don’t have morning tea at work because you don’t feel like it or your schedule doesn’t allow for it, perhaps it would be worth re-thinking having it at home because or eating because the food is simply available.
2. Listen to your body to help you identify if you are eating out of hunger or boredom
Pre covid, I think we can all agree that life was busy for most of us. We lived in a go-go-go society that had us eating lunch at the desk, in front of the computer or in the car on the way to our next meeting/picking up the kids. Our lives became so jam packed I think we ended up losing touch with ourselves. We were probably eating out of habit or because “we really should eating something” rather than actually being hungry. Now we have all this time on our hands and many of us don't actually know how to acknowledge their hunger and fullness skills. Our advice, check in with yourself.
The hunger scale is a great tool to use to help you identify your ‘why’ or your purpose for eating.
All you have to do is rank your hunger from 0-10 (0 being ravenously hungry you feel faint and 10 being so full you feel physically ill). In an ideal world, we should aim to start eating at a 3 (comfortably hungry) and conclude eating at a 7 (comfortably full). Implementing this strategy takes a bit of time and practise, but next time you are tempted to reach for something out of the pantry, rank your hunger to help you identify your purpose for eating. If you are eating due to hunger, wonderful! If it’s more so boredom, stress or for an emotional purpose, it may be worth finding another activity to help you manage your situation.
3. Remove distractions during meal times
The practise of eating more mindfully and recognising your hunger and fullness cues involves you to remove all distractions so you can be fully present during times of eating. This means moving away from screens (phone, computer, TV, iPad etc) so you can appreciate your food and how you feel at that moment.
4. Avoid keeping snacks at your desk
Let’s say you keep a bag of almonds at your desk, chances are you will mindlessly reach for these more often that you intended or more often that you would if they were kept in the pantry. This comes back to the concept of eating mindfully and removing distractions so you are able to recognise what you are eating and how much of it
5. Replace the activity
If you generally fill your gaps or breaks with periods of eating or if you are eating as an excuse to step away from your desk, try your best to find other activities that make you feel good too. Here at KOJA, we love going for a walk around the block, listening to a podcast, stretching or reading a book with a nice cup of tea.
6. Have healthy snacks available at all times
Stocking the pantry with nutritious snacks means that when and if you do opt to eat more regularly than initially planned, at least you are filling your body with wholesome foods that will make you feel your best.
Given some of us may have a little more time on our hands, why not try some of our favourite snack recipes:
- Apple & Peanut Butter Slices
- Brilliant Boiled Eggs
- Pita Chips with Guacamole
- Strawberry and Peanut Caramel Smoothie
- Chocolate Protein Muffins
Oh, and how we could we forget! Keep a stash of KOJA Natural Peanut Butter Bars in the pantry to ensure you have a nutritionally balanced snack on hand at all times that will keep you satisfied and energised.
Written by Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist Millie Padula.