These Strategies Will Help You Prioritize Healthy Eating When Working From Home

It’s tempting to fall prey to mindless snacking, but making nutritious choices can help boost our well-being.

Soloviova Liudmyla/ Shutterstock
Soloviova Liudmyla/ Shutterstock

Working from home and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic comes with new challenges for our health. Most importantly, of course, we must try to protect ourselves and our loved ones as much as possible from the virus. But there are other, smaller threats to our physical health — one of them being the temptation to snack all day, and another being the increased craving for comfort foods as our anxiety levels rise. Research has found that avoiding processed foods and sugar can reduce our risk of chronic inflammation and help strengthen our immunity, which means it’s more important than ever to prioritize nutritious food choices and stay hydrated during this time.

We asked our Thrive community to share their tips for prioritizing healthy eating and hydration when working from home. Which of these will you try?

Pick a day to plan your meals

“In order to prioritize healthy eating, I plan my meals every Sunday, and then cook from scratch every night.  I plan based on what I already have in the pantry and freezer so I don’t have to go to the store. For lunch, I almost always have leftovers from dinner with a fried egg on top. This is a formula, so I don’t have to think too much about it, but it’s a healthy one.”

—Alexis Haselberger, time management and productivity coach, San Francisco, CA

Store produce at the front of the fridge

“My favorite tip is to wash your fruits and vegetables after you purchase them, and place them at the front of your fridge. When you start to crave a snack or sweets, the first thing that will be displayed and ready to eat are the fruits.”

—Victoria Franca, functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, Miami, FL

Keep fruit-infused water around the house

“To encourage myself to stay hydrated and healthy while at home, I make sure to have water bottles in various locations around the house, and I typically add a squeeze of lemon juice or orange juice to the water. Sometimes, I’ll mix in some mashed cucumber slices, muddled fruits, or flavorful teas.”

—Karen Carnabucci, L.C.S.W., psychotherapist and co-author, Lancaster, PA

Try the 20-minute challenge

“Foods help us with boredom, sadness, anxiety, and stress. One trick I like to use to stay healthy is the 20-minute challenge. When you’re in the mood for a snack, distract yourself for 20 minutes — either by taking a walk, listening to music, or reading a book — and then see if your hunger dissipates. It’s a great way to tell if you’re actually hungry or if you’re falling prey to mindless snacking.”

—Christine Norwitch, health and wellness coach, Miami, FL

Focus on whole foods

“During this time, I find it helpful to focus on eating real foods instead of processed snacks. For the majority of your meals, use ‘real foods’ such as fresh vegetables, meat, eggs, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Have healthy options in the fridge like washed, chopped celery and carrot sticks, with rice crackers and hummus. Also, prepare snack size portions of mixed nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.”

—Katrina Love Senn, teacher and author, UK

Try intermittent fasting 

“Fasting helps me feel like I have control over something in a world where control is sparse. My family and I eat during set meal times, enjoying our food together at the table and talking. We eat food we are excited about and look forward to. We eat until we are full.”

—Eve Mayer, author and consultant, Carrollton, TX

Keep greens in the fridge

“I make a big green smoothie and keep it in the fridge to grab before meetings or after a morning workout. I also add something green to every meal, like baby spinach and frozen peas. I always have salad leaves and veggies washed and stored in the fridge so I can throw something together with a few more ingredients for lunch.”

—Camilla Thompson, managing director, Sydney, Australia 

Be compassionate with yourself

“I’m trying to incorporate more fruit into my diet, but with so much going on right now, I’m not as strict as I should be about processed foods, and that’s OK. I’m not going overboard, but also not getting too stressed about it.”

—Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer at WebMD, Washington, D.C.

Fill glasses of water before starting the day

“As I start my workday at home, I fill a pitcher with water, squeeze half a lemon into it and put it on my desk along with a glass. I aim to drink about four glasses in the morning and four glasses in the afternoon.”

—Heidi Hauer, holistic health coach, Zurich, Switzerland

Cook a healthy dish as a family

“Once a week, we cook something special we all love, and use fancy china to enjoy it together all dressed up. We’ve also been trying new recipes and have been baking healthy treats once a week for fun.”

—Eve Mayer, author and consultant, Carrollton, TX

Separate your meal space and your workspace 

“When I began working from home, I used my kitchen table as my desk. I noticed my snacking was excessive! I decided to make my spare bedroom into my office and kept myself away from the kitchen unless I was actually hungry. If I feel the urge to get a snack, but am not hungry, I fill my water bottle or make some tea to distract myself. This also helps me stay hydrated!”

—Brie LaPrell, student and administrative assistant, Buffalo, NY

Balance comfort food with healthy sides

“I actually find myself being healthier and less wasteful during this time, since we are eating out less and taking time to plan our meals to make sure we don’t have to visit the store as often. When we’re in the mood for something nostalgic, we allow ourselves to make one comfort food, and try to make the rest of the meal healthy. So, if I make a lasagna, we make sure to have greens as a side dish. It’s all about the balance!”

—Lauren Hyland, entrepreneur coach and small businesses consultant, Pittsburgh, PA

Look for healthy carbohydrates 

“Many people feel like they are craving more carbohydrates to deal with the stress, since carbs can provide a quick serotonin boost. Stocking up on healthy carbs like almond flour crackers and granola can provide me with a healthier treat.”

—Jackie Elnahar, R.D., attorney and founder of TelaDietitian, New York, NY

Use this time to learn new recipes

“To encourage myself to eat healthy at home, I find it helpful to prepare my meals in advance with joy and excitement. Cooking once or even twice every day for yourself or your family is a massive change for most people. If you approach this new situation in a fun and playful way, you might come out of this period a much better cook!”

—Heidi Hauer, holistic health coach, Zurich, Switzerland

Focus on how you feel

“I’ve been able to avoid succumbing to junk food temptations so far by reminding myself that staying healthy and inflammation-free is best for me.”

—Carrie Ann Alford, entrepreneur, Richmond, VA

Do you have a go-to tip that helps you prioritize healthy choices at home? Share it with us in the comments!

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