A couple of weeks ago I shared my 4 Ways to Stop Cravings. The article spurred a ton of response. So I wanted to dig a little deeper into the topic. Also, this month is Nutrition Month. The theme is Eating 9-5. In the background information that was share with me I learned that statistics show that at the end of a busy work day, people’s food choices tend to be more impulsive, falling for unhealthy choices at vending machines and coffee shops during the commute home.
That's certainly been my experience. What about you?
What’s the best way to prevent falling for these traps? As the Boy Scouts apparently say: “Always be prepared!”
By "being prepared", I mean:
Step #1: Don’t Go Too Long Between Meals and Snacks
As I shared in my post a couple of weeks ago, when our blood sugar drops, we’re driven by our bodies towards high fat, high sugar, and high salt foods. Did you skip lunch and now you find yourself in the fast food restaurant on the way home from work? It’s because of a biological drive – not a lack of willpower. Don’t try to work against Mother Nature; you won’t succeed. Instead, eat when you’re just starting to get hungry. For most people this is approximately every 4 hours. Now this doesn’t mean all-day grazing. Plan and eat a healthy afternoon snack to prevent the lure of the vending machine.
Step #2: Pack Healthy Choices
To expand on Step #1, eat a healthy afternoon snack when you’re just starting to get hungry. This means that you need to pack a healthy snack ahead of time. I pack something daily. And, I keep some healthy options on hand. That way on days that either I forgot to pack a snack (hey, no-one’s perfect) or days when I’m not in the mood for what I packed, I have a back-up healthy snack at the office. These can also be kept in the car for all you road-warriors. I was married to one for years so I know you too!
Some healthy snack ideas include:
- Nuts and seeds (as long as your workplace isn’t nut-free).
- Dried fruit.
- Fresh fruit. Apples keep well.
- Energy bars. Look for ones with recognizable food ingredients.
- Whole grain flatbread, such as Ryvita.
- Unsweetened fruit purees. Applesauce and other fruit mixtures come in sealed plastic cups. I also know many adults who use the squeezie packs of organic baby fruit & veggie purees (you can even find ones with awesome whole grains like quinoa).
- Individual tetra packs of milk or plant-based milk alternatives.
Step #3: Fill Your Water Bottle
Often it’s thirst, not hunger, that sends us into the coffee shop or to the vending machine. Even if you only buy a water (and not a drink containing sugar, artificial sweeteners, or caffeine), just going to the vending machine/coffee shop means that you’ll be facing tempting treats. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle before you head out the door. Voila – temptation avoided!
What do you do to prevent cravings on the commute home? I'd love for you to share your tips in the comments section below!
** I’m proud to be a registered dietitian. March is #NutritionMonth – when dietitians across North America share our love of healthy eating! This article is inspired by the Dietitians of Canada's Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca. **