Snacking Smart During 'Isolation'

Keep a healthy 'pandemic pantry'

A Veteran finding a healthy snackThough self-isolating is the best way to protect against COVID-19, the extra time at home can lead to stress, boredom, and unhealthy behaviors, like overeating. While eating comfort foods is normal during times like these, your health shouldn't suffer.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while you stay at home and healthy.

Prepare snacks ahead of time

Some good things come with being stuck at home. You're likely cooking and preparing your own food more, which can improve overall health. You can start by planning a handful of snacks ahead of time.

The next time you are bored, try making a big batch of baked kale chips and putting them in individual serving size bags. This is a healthier alternative to potato chips. Another fun recipe to try is energy bars. This can be a “quarantine” activity, and they will provide energy with every bite. Make at least 5-7 bars to get yourself through the week.

When you want a quick snack

Though having a jar of cookies or a bowl of candy on the counter may look nice, it can lead to overindulging. It's best to keep tempting foods out of sight, especially sugary baked goods or salty chips.

There's nothing wrong with enjoying a snack here and there. Healthy snacking can keep your metabolism burning and prevent overeating during mealtime. There are tasty healthy options. Here are some possibilities that are all under 50 calories for the next time you want a snack:

  • One kosher dill pickle (10 calories)

  • One slice fat-free American cheese (30 calories)

  • ½ cup fat-free Greek yogurt with one teaspoon sugar-free strawberry jam (43 calories)

  • One large tomato, sliced, topped with one tablespoon Parmesan cheese, broiled (44 calories)

  • ½ cup carrots with one tablespoon light ranch dressing (45 calories)

  • ½ medium apple plus one tablespoon low-fat yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon (45 calories)

  • One miniature box of raisins (45 calories)

  • 1½ cups air-popped popcorn (46 calories)

  • ½ cup strawberries with 2½ tablespoons non-fat yogurt (47 calories)

  • 12 cherries (48 calories)

  • 14 seedless red grapes (48 calories)

Or check out this long list of snacks, all under 200 calories.

Dealing with boredom

When you find yourself with extra free time and limited options for getting out of the house, boredom can set in, which can lead to overeating. Making good use of your time can prevent boredom. It's the perfect time to learn a new skill, tackle a project, organize your living spaces, take an educational course, or start a new hobby. We have a few tips to help you avoid boredom:

  • Find a new or longer walking route alone or with your dog.

  • Plant a garden, mow your lawn, or spend time pulling weeds. Get outside!

  • Put on an exercise video from YouTube. A lot of gym and yoga studios are also live streaming free classes.

  • Start to learn a new language, read a good book, or do a crossword puzzle.

  • Call a friend or video chat with family members.

Don't forget water

Being stuck at home gives you more time to focus on healthy habits, like drinking more water. Staying hydrated is important for overall health and may prevent overeating. To give your water a boost, add a few slices of cucumbers, strawberries, lemons, or other fruit. This gives it flavor without adding tons of sugar or calories to your diet.

Keep yourself accountable

Keep a food journal to track your eating habits. Recording your daily meals can help you make mindful and healthy choices when it comes to food. Veterans with a My HealtheVet account can use health tracking tools such as the online body weight and food journal to record and view progress.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Read More

Managing Your Weight with Healthy Eating (MedlinePlus)

Five Ways to Achieve Your Healthy Weight

Strive for a Healthy Weight (National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention)

Updated July 28, 2020