If working from home is your new normal, you’re likely burning extra mental energy adapting to a new normal. The foods you eat throughout the day play an important role nourishing mind and body with fuel you need to thrive. At the start, it’s easy to fall into bad snacking habits that can be difficult to break later on.
The Snack Oasis in your Kitchen
Your well-stocked kitchen offers a smorgasbord of snacking options unlike the kitchen cabinets at the office (which tend to be devoid of anything edible). Anything you could possibly eat from your kitchen is suddenly fair game for a snack during the workday. A pre-packaged granola bar, cookies, or even that leftover garlic bread from dinner last night are all fair game.
With all that available food and the freedoms of working from home, it’s very easy to fall into a pattern of over-rewarding ourselves with snacks. Send an email, grab a cookie. Finish a long conference call, enjoy some leftover birthday cake. Finish running a report, grab a bagel. Needless to say, this can lead to all sorts of bad habits and dietary side effects – not to mention mounting feelings of regret and lethargy throughout the day.
Fortunately, there are ways to curb the snacking and make it more meaningful at the same time.
Don’t skip lunch
Planned meals help keep us from becoming hungry quickly after long stretches of working. They’re also important for mentally breaking the day into two parts, which goes a long way to keep days from being monotonous.
Just as you prioritize your meetings and tasks, prioritize lunch in the middle of your work day. Put lunch on your calendar every day as a recurring event and do your best to stick to it.
Meetings run long, tasks take extra time, and days sometimes get really packed. It’s reasonable to be flexible with lunch, just don’t cut yourself short.
Snack when you’re actually hungry
Snacking only when you’re actually hungry is a great way to avoid overeating throughout the day.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of snacking out of habit as a self-reward for just about anything. Finish a long meeting, snack. Complete a task, snack. Run a report, snack. At best, you’re not going to be hungry for lunch (or dinner) and your weeks worth of snacks runs out on Tuesday.
Try keeping just a single snack at your desk for when hunger strikes. Keeping more more than a single snack at your desk is dangerous. It’s far too easy to be tempted to eat one snack for the heck of it knowing full well that another is within reach.
Have afternoon tea with your house mates
In the age of social distancing, we still need that human connection and an occasional break from our work. In the absence of the proverbial office “water cooler”, our housemates can stand in for a very English tradition: afternoon tea.
It’s simple – sometime in the mid-to-late afternoon, grab a beverage and small snack and enjoy it together with your housemates. Take the opportunity to catch up on what’s going on with each-other.
No housemates? Setup a standing time with a friend to video conference in the afternoon for 15 mintues.
Make your own snacks
Convenience foods are great – but nothing satisfies quite like homemade snacks. We sometimes make batches of granola, banana muffins, and protein bars at the start of the week – enough to fill the snacking need through Fridays.
In addition to generally being healthier, as you gain experience making your own snacks – you can adjust your favorite recipes to make them more interesting. Homemade snacks are almost always more cost effective, too.
It’s all about self control
Long term, it’s important to build up your self-regulation and resiliency capacity – something you’ll need a lot of when working from home. Putting your snacking habits in check is a powerful way to help build this muscle.