Healthy snacking when you are stuck at home

  • Bad habit: People are more likely to overeat if they snack while watching TV or using the computer

    Bad habit: People are more likely to overeat if they snack while watching TV or using the computer


Given that this is our first apocalypse, Bermuda seems to be doing well so far.

Kudos to the Government, medical staff and local businesses for their action and communication.

Of course, it’s early days, but the sense of community is heart-warming.

Let’s see how we go and get through it together although, to be honest, I am not sure who is more at risk — our elderly population or the parents who are homeschooling.

Alcohol intake from the uninitiated seems to have increased considerably. I am sure all the teachers are now laughing their socks off.

Yes, we get it! Now we know! We don’t understand how you do your jobs. (Help!!!)

One of the biggest challenges on my side has been trying to do my own job, oversee home-school and run what seems like a 24-hour kitchen at the same time.

I totally underestimated how much my kids are capable of eating.

At school it’s easier, as the kitchen is out of reach, but when we’re home there is an endless request for snacks.

It’s easier to say yes (and keep working), but when the kids eat a whole bag of oranges in one day and ransack the cupboards for anything cookie-related, how do you keep it manageable (and healthy)?

Boredom eating is extremely common, but it’s bad for our body composition, budget and teeth!

If you are constantly eating, then you are constantly building up plaque on your teeth.

It’s also unlikely you are burning it all off, so you are more likely to start storing visceral fat (which leads to metabolic disease, even in children as young as 10 or 12).

I do, however, think that snacks can be healthy, we just need to do it the right way. See tips below!

Healthy snacking at home:

1, Stick to a routine

Snacks can be great for balancing blood sugar and keeping portion sizes moderate.

Eating “little and often” works well in this respect, but “little and all the time” doesn’t!

During Nutrifit, I recommend that people have a midmorning and midafternoon snack, so long as their portions at breakfast and lunch have been moderate.

This is a good way to trickle energy into the body as and when you need it, versus eating larger amounts that end up getting stored.

2, Note that kids may need more than you!

Kids are growing and they likely need to eat more than we do, relative to body size.

However, if your child has a weight issue, you may want to plan snack time for after physical activity (when their metabolism will be running higher and they will burn more off)!

Try following the Joe Wicks’ PE workouts on YouTube for kids which have become massively popular!

Sometimes I just send my kids up and down the stairs five times (or round the garden) before we snack. They don’t have weight issues, but it’s a good way to get extra fitness in.

Make sure you have the same rule for everyone in the family so that no one feels singled out.

3, Blame it on the dentist

Your dentist won’t mind, I promise! It’s extremely important not to focus on weight when talking about nutrition with children.

Rather than saying you are worried about their weight, or always connecting food to weight gain, you can make it about dental health (which is equally true, but less soul-destroying).

You can say something like, “We can’t have another snack yet because your teeth need a rest. If we snack all the time, then it’s bad for your teeth.”

4, And … do your teeth!

This will make your dentist happy. People are less inclined to snack when they have done their teeth. Encourage tooth brushing after meals and it will help to signal that eating is over.

5, Snack baskets

This one comes from Facebook and a mum that couldn’t keep up with the amount of snacking her kids were doing.

She set out all the snacks for the day in a basket with each child’s name on.

And when they were done, they were done! She said it made them think more carefully about whether they were actually hungry, or not!

6, Only choose good carbs

To keep it healthy, avoid fast-releasing carbs that are sugary, as they put pressure on your insulin response and encourage weight gain.

This includes all snacks made from white flour and sugar! Choose wholewheat crackers or fruit instead.

7, Combine with protein

When you snack, add protein too. This slows sugar-release (even good carbs release sugars) and gives you more sustained energy.

So have hummus or nut butter with your crackers, and try nuts or seeds with your fruit.

It’s easy! Some of my favourite snacks for kids are: Made Good granola bars with nuts/seeds, wholegrain toast or crackers with nut butter and honey, fruit and nuts, home-made trail mix, fresh veggies with hummus or guacamole, or popcorn with nuts. All easy!

8, Be mindful

The most common reason that people eat constantly is because they are also eating in a distracted way.

If you are working or watching TV, you are not focused on what you’re eating and miss out on the “hedonic” pleasure that comes with eating.

As humans are pleasure-seekers, it means that your body may still send you hunger signals if you skip that part. So have all snacks at the table without distractions.

Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram

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Published Mar 27, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 27, 2020 at 4:12 am)

Healthy snacking when you are stuck at home

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