Healthy habits while working at home

food

The COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures have upended personal and professional work lives. To accommodate various needs, homes have transformed and reconfigured to serve as the new office space, school classroom, and gym (sometimes all at once). While it’s hard to predict when offices will welcome back employees or when fitness studios will host another class, it’s important to consider the implications this new lifestyle could have on your physical and mental health. 

With the new home workspace only a few steps away from the kitchen, it’s easy to make frequent visits to the fridge or pantry for convenient but sometimes unhealthy snacks. 

Fortunately, Laura Goodwin and Dawn-Michelle Timms, two Registered Dietitians at North York General Hospital (NYGH), offer insight to help readers embrace healthy habits as they adapt to this new ever-changing reality.

Q:How can readers resist the temptation to avoid constant snacking?
  • Nutritious food – Try not to keep high calorie, high fat snacks in the house or at least limit how many you buy in the first place. Replace some of the more indulgent snacks with lighter, healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain crackers, lean proteins, etc.
  • Hydration Make sure you’re well-hydrated. Sometimes thirst and dehydration can present as that ‘peckish’ feeling, when all you need is tea or water to feel satiated.
  • Meal prep – Cut up and pre-portion healthy snacks ahead of time so they’re ready to go – you’ll be less likely to grab something unhealthy in a pinch.
  • Is it hunger? – Before grabbing a snack, ask yourself if you’re hungry, bored or looking for a distraction. If it’s the latter, try going for a walk, stretching, getting fresh air or start a new task to redirect yourself.
  • Enjoying your food – Try not to eat while doing something else at the same time – absent-minded snacking typically leads to the consumption of larger portion and more calories. Listen to your body, put away the snacks when you’re full.
What are some of the smart choices people can make when grocery shopping?
  • Shopping route – Try to do most of your grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store. In most stores, the fresh produce, dairy, protein choices, and grains are found around the outer isles, while more packaged, prepared and convenience foods are found along the inner isles.
  • Making lists – Make a grocery list before you go in order to avoid impulsive choices. This can also help with budgeting from week to week.
  • Shopping on a full stomach – Avoid grocery shopping while hungry. This often leads to the purchase of more snacks or highly satiating foods, not necessarily healthy choices.
  • Reading labels – If you need to buy more convenient or ready-made foods, learn how to read food labels and compare items and brands so you can find the healthiest options to suit your lifestyle.

Laura and Dawn-Michelle agree that having planned menus in advance can help keep meals interesting, healthier and more budget friendly with less waste. Structured mealtimes can also provide some predictability in a highly unpredictable time. For families, this can provide some routine and togetherness.

This article first appeared in the June 2020 issue of The Pulse.

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