- Plan regular meals times
Even though the timing of your entire day may have changed, make set times for meals. Think about planning meals no more than 4-5 hours apart. Just like when you were at work and you had lunchtime, plan for lunch about the same time each day. Your body gets used to regular mealtimes and this will help to control hunger and decrease the urge to snack all day. Regular mealtimes are especially important if you take diabetes medications.
- Take breaks from your work to eat mindfully
Practice mindful eating by setting aside time to eat without your work. Avoid eating in front of your computer or phone. Take time to enjoy your food and be present in the moment while eating. This will give you more control over how much you eat, better satisfaction with food, and awareness of feelings of fullness to avoid overeating. Make eating a separate activity during your workday.
- Keep food out of your work area
Food is meant to fuel our body and give us energy and productivity to work. Keep food out of your work area to reduce the temptation to snack and reduce stress eating. Just seeing food can cause cravings. Eating while working is mindless eating which usually leaves us less satisfied and craving more food.
- Stay hydrated
Water has many functions in our body, including fighting fatigue and helping you to stay feeling full. Drinking adequate amounts of water is important while you work from home. You have probably heard recommendations to drink eight 8-ounce cups (64 oz.) of water daily. That’s a good starting point for most people. Some people may need more or less than that. While you are working, think about drinking 8 oz. or 1 cup of water each hour. If you are working 8 hours and drinking 8 oz. each hour you should be hydrated and meet your 64 oz. goal. If you were using a reusable water bottle at work, keep using it. Keep water with you during the day where you are working-that’s your reminder to keep drinking. All fluids count toward your daily fluid intake but keep them clean. Avoid sweetened beverages and limit diet drinks with artificial sweeteners. To change up plain water, try fruit-infused water or sparkling water.
- Plan for healthy snacks when hungry
While there may have been some tempting food in the breakroom at work, there are probably more food options at home. Especially if you stocked up to minimize grocery trips. Instead of grazing on available food throughout the day, plan for snacks when hungry between meals at specific times. Choose snacks that have protein, fiber, and healthy fats to help you stay feeling satisfied. Don’t forget about the portion size. It’s easy at home to eat snacks from a large bag or container. Plan and portion your snacks before eating using smaller bags and containers that you used for work.
- Keep up with meal planning
If you were a meal planner and prepared meals in advance keep doing that while you are at home. Now may a time to consider reverse meal planning-by that I mean planning to eat food that’s available. Usual meal planning is purchasing the foods you are planning to eat, but we all have different access to food now. This is a good time to look for new recipes for the foods you have at home. You may also have more time to batch cook and freeze extra portions. For people with diabetes, it’s important to still control carbohydrate intake and follow a guide. To include all the food groups and keep carbs in check, try the Diabetes Plate Method.
- Keep healthy pantry staples on hand
While it may be tempting to stock your pantry with snack foods and cereal at this time, think about other healthy staples so you can more easily cook at home.
- Beans-canned or dried beans are versatile and provide plant protein and fiber
- Pasta-try different varieties including whole wheat, edamame, black bean, brown rice, chickpea, and lentil pasta to add some protein and fiber compared to white pasta
- Quinoa-a great source of fiber and protein to add to meals
- Canned tomatoes-use for soups, curry, sauces for pasta, beans, or rice
- Olive oil-healthy flavorful fat to make a salad dressing, dip, or roast vegetables
- Nuts and nut butters-provide healthy fat and protein for meals and snacks
- Canned seafood-think about adding tuna, salmon, sardines, or oysters as an easy protein addition to salads, sandwiches, soups, or pasta
When you can, continue to purchase fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to pair with these pantry staples to balance your plate.
Working from home may be temporary or more long-term but take one day at a time and make the best choices for you to manage your diabetes.
by Christine McKinney, RD LDN CDE