With the COVID-19 pandemic dragging on, it is looking like remote work is here to stay. And with remote work comes the temptation to snack at home, and maybe not make the best food choices. We have all heard of the Quarantine 15 – those 15 pounds or so that some say they are packing on around their waistlines.
We sat down with Adventist Health Simi Valley Registered Dietitian Maren Stein to talk about how we all can make healthier choices while eating at home.
Q: We’ve all probably been indulging a little too much during this pandemic. How can we continue to snack while staying satisfied?
A: So, you might be feeling some snack fatigue if you’re spending a lot of time at home. Have a variety of fruits and vegetables on-hand to help when you’re having a craving for something sweet or crunchy. Pair your produce with nut butters and/or dips to help increase protein and fat content, which can help make you feel more satisfied. You can buy pre-chopped produce for convenience, or buy whole fruits and veggies to save some money and cut them yourself to have easy snacks whenever you want.
Q: What are some examples you might recommend?
A: Apples or bananas paired with nut butters. These provide fiber with the plant-based protein and unsaturated fats of the nut butter. Bananas are also a great source of potassium, which is a mineral that many Americans don’t have enough of in their diets.
Q: And what about vegetables?
A: Sliced bell peppers, carrots, celery, jicama, or snap peas served with hummus. You can make your version of a fancy crudité spread at home with a variety of veggies that you and your family enjoy with a plain or flavored hummus dip. The vegetables will provide a variety of different vitamins like Vitamin C from bell peppers, and Vitamin A from carrots, with the additional protein from the chickpeas in the hummus leading to a satisfying snack.
Q: And what if folks are wanting something more savory? What can they reach for?
A: If you’re craving something savory, make your own charcuterie board with a variety of meats, cheeses, breads/crackers, nuts, and/or olives. This contains all the macronutrients our body needs (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) that can lead to a filling and satisfying snack. While prepared deli meats and cheeses can contain a higher amount of sodium, these can still be included in an overall healthful dietary pattern.
Q: I have a sweet tooth. What do you recommend for somebody who loves desserts?
A: If you’re craving a sweet and salty combination, some good options can be trail mix with nuts, dried fruits, and/or chocolate chips or yogurt with some granola and honey drizzled on top.
Something to consider is that it’s OK to have chips, cookies, ice cream or other satisfying snacks in the house. When you feel like you can’t allow yourself to enjoy these types of snacks, you may start to feel deprived. This can lead to feelings of immense cravings and you can end up overeating them, leading to feelings of guilt or shame.
These snacks can be included as an enjoyable part of an overall healthy eating plan. All foods fit.
Maren Stein is a registered dietitian at Adventist Health Simi Valley. Follow her on Instagram @guiltfree_dietitian.