Send email, open fridge. Send email, open pantry. Send email, open snack drawer.
Sound familiar? Working from home when you're used to office culture can shake up your regular routine and mess with your best eating intentions. Whether you’re sick, holed up with kids, or clocking in remotely for another reason, it’s hard to avoid eating out of boredom or procrastination. To help combat these impulses and stay on track at home, try these tips from registered dietitian t, MS, head of nutrition and wellness at WW:
1. Set a snacking plan
Let's be honest: You're probably going to eat a little something between meals—and that's OK! Acknowleging that snacks are going to happen won’t leave you feeling like you’re deviating from the game plan when you do reach for a handful of popcorn or piece of fruit. To that point: Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to uproot your entire routine. Think about what times of day you typically eat, and aim to stick to it: If you usually have lunch at noon and a snack at 2pm, do the same at home.
Knowing when your next snack is coming can help you resist the urge to graze. “Your personal schedule is your strategy,” London says. “I’d typically recommend a meal or snacks every 3 to 4 hours max so that you’re not starving going into your next meal, which can set you up for overeating.”
2. Make time to snack-prep
When the urge to snack strikes, that bag of unwashed, unpeeled, unchopped carrots won’t exactly look appealing. Plan ahead by setting time aside before your work day begins to wash, prep, and store the ingredients you plan to snack on.
London pre-cuts and skewers fresh fruits like grapes, bananas, and mango chunks, and sticks them in the freezer. At home with kids? Get them involved. “This can be a fun activity to break up the day,” says London, who sometimes dips her skewers in nut butter for a heartier holdover.
Having a SmartPoints®-friendly something—like hard-boiled eggs or ready-to-eat veggies—on hand can help set you up for success. You can also pre-portion snacks that rack up SmartPoints using small containers or plastic bags to keep serving sizes in check and make mindful midday snacking even easier.
3. Lean on veggies and fruit.
Already ate your pre-planned snack—and still feeling munchy? Make your next bite a ZeroPoint™ food. No matter which myWW color you’re following, there are hundreds of options that can satisfy your urge to munch without chipping away at your SmartPoints Budget. What’s more, veggies like celery, radishes, and cucumbers are full of vitamins, minerals, and filling fiber—ever the more reason to enjoy them. Pro tip: Add a sprinkle of salt for flavor.
4. Set a designated snacking zone.
Rather than munching out of your fridge or over your keyboard, plate your snack and go to your kitchen or dining room table—wherever you usually eat real meals—to enjoy it. Eliminating pings from your phone and computer will help you focus on—and enjoy!—what you’re consuming. It can also assist in portion control since distractions make it difficult to recognize when you’re full and to register how much you’ve eaten, London says.
5. Keep baked goods out of sight.
We all need a little something sweet even now and then, but storing that brownie tin in eyesight makes it difficult to resist. London’s suggestion: “Save the portion you plan to eat in the fridge or pantry shelf where you can’t constantly visualize it, and store the rest in the freezer so it doesn't go to waste.”
6. Take a break.
Working from home eliminates the typical workday breaks you take to chat with a coworker in the bathroom or by the water cooler. But “part of a wholehearted, health-promoting lifestyle is taking physical and psychological breaks,” London says.
Instead of waiting for monotony to lead you toward the fridge, take a scheduled work break to close your laptop and breathe deeply, stretch in your backyard, or walk around the block. Particularly if you’re hyper-stressed, this habit can help you sidestep stress-eating before it undermines your wellness goals.
Lucy Shanker is a copywriter at WW (formerly Weight Watchers). Beyond WW.com, the Chicago-born, NYC-based food and culture writer's work has appeared on Consequence of Sound, The Independent, Spindle Magazine, and more.