Often when we eat because of our feelings (I’m SOOO STRESSED!) or perceive certain desires as food “cravings,” it’s a direct result of stress. But other times, when we’ve written off diving head-first into a Cup O’ Noodles (and every condiment left in the office pantry), it’s more likely that we’ve skipped a meal, didn’t eat enough or the right combo of nutrients at the meals we actually did eat, and/or didn’t use some crucial tools we need to stay on track.
In initial sessions with clients, I always find that one of these three reasons (or a combination of all three in the same day!) fuels overeating, or tricks people into believing that they have “no willpower” or “can’t stop eating” (trust me, no one’s office vending machine is truly amazing enough to when really it’s got absolutely zero to do with anything!). I call these the “3 T’s:” Timing of your meals and snacks; Type of foods/nutrients to eat to help you feel satisfied, and Tools—the accountability strategies you can use to keep yourself on track and making choices that support your personal goals. Here are the details:
- Truth: You need to eat. Every three to four hours. Regular snacking is the key to sticking with Right-Now Rule #1. In order to actually do this, you have to know your daily calendar and recognize some details about your daily schedule so you can plan ahead for any potential stretches of time that could lead you to skip a meal or a snack. But since timing is now a huge component of how you’re going to stop using the will- power crutch to “power through” your day and starve until you can face-plant into happy hour snacks, you have to make eating regularly a priority. How do you do that? Use the alarm clock on your phone. Have a little “ding” go off every four hours (max) to remind you that it’s time to snack. This is also a tremendously helpful tool if you (a) need to pee during a presentation, (b) cannot listen to Bob from accounting talk about pension for another second, or (c) want to check social media because it’s been four f*cking hours, Bob. Can we wrap this up? Keeping snacks on hand will help you make it through.
- The foods you need to eat to keep your energy up (and your brain away from believing you “have no willpower”). When it comes to your plate, here’s how you’re going to start designing your meals and thinking about lunch and dinner—no matter where you are in the world and whatever else you’re doing, your plate can and will look this way: mostly veggies (at least 50 percent, but vegetables are an unlimited food for you—so fill ’er up!); lean protein, like fish, seafood, poultry, lean cuts of beef, eggs, tofu; some carbs from beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas (those are top preferences), or starchy veggies (tubers and other potatoes, whole grains). There should also be some good hearty fats on your plate, so you can actually stay satisfied throughout the day: avocado; seeds or nuts (about 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup, or a 1-ounce pack, on top of whatever you’re eating); cheese (because it makes everything better, and also packs up to 9 g protein per 1-ounce serving).
- What you need to make sure you hold yourself accountable. Keep a list in your phone of three go-to places from which you can always grab and go with a nutritious meal that combines all the things listed above under “Type.” Use a food-delivery app on your phone to save meal options that can be reordered. This is a brilliant tool to use with the intent of sticking to a healthful eating plan for a given meal during the day rather than scrolling through options and ultimately choosing a huge serving of cheese fries. But more than anything, before you dive into a vending-machine induced food coma, ask yourself the following: Am I thirsty? Even if you’re not feeling completely parched, have a cup or two (8–16 oz) of water, seltzer, or a hot bev like tea or coffee. It’ll help you decide what’s next if you can at least rule out that what you’re actually “craving” is simple hydration. Am I legitimately hungry? Did your exercise schedule change? Did you skip any meals today? How big was your breakfast? Know where you are so you can hack your habits for next time. Am I exhausted? If you can nap at the office, then definitely take advantage of that! But if you can’t: Time for some caffeine—300-400mg/day is a sweet-spot for most of us and recommended by the USDA/DHHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
A GUIDE TO SMARTER SNACKING THROUGH YOUR LOVE WITH FOOD BOX
An assortment of snacks can also replace less nutritious burger‐and‐fries or sandwiches stuffed with processed meats. Try combos like these:
Use these with (about) 1-3 high protein snacks to add fiber:
- When you need something sweet:
- When you’re out of sandwich bread:
- When you just need a little crunch:
- Puffed Snacks + Nuts + Roasted Beans + Cheese Snacks (examples: Hippeas Chickpea Puffs; Zouq Golden Lentil Snacks; Biena Roasted Chickpea Snacks; Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas; Watusee Popped Chickpeatos; Madi K Almonds; Mooncheese; Just The Cheese Crunchy Baked Cheese Snacks; The Daily Crave Veggie Chips)
- When lunch is early (and you kinda want breakfast):
Use these to add to 1-3 higher-fiber snacks or meals (like leftover veggies from dinner, salad or soup at your desk, etc.) or on their own for a <200-calorie solo snack:
- Crunchy: Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame; SuperSeedz 1-ounce Packs; Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpea Snacks; Biena Snacks 1.5-ounce Snack Packs; Watusee Foods Chickpeatos; Manitoba Harvest Toasted Hemp Seeds
- Creamy: Barney Butter; Justin’s Nut Butters; Sunbutter Cups; WOWBUTTER; SuperFat Nut Butters
- Bars (~100 CALS): That’s It, Larabar Mini’s, Health Warrior Chia Bars, Kashi Chewy Bars, Perfect Bar Minis
- BARS (~200 CALS): RXBARS, Redd Bars, Quest Bars, Kashi Nut Butter Bars, Nature Valley Peanut Butter Granola or Protein Bars, Kind Nuts and Spices or Protein Bars, thinkThin Protein & Fiber Bars, That’s It Bites, Larabar, Perfect Bar in Cranberry Crunch
You know how sometimes in the middle of a hectic workday you just need someone to TELL YOU WHAT TO DO?! Same. Try these snack-combos turned mini-meals:
- I Love Sweets! Can I Make a Meal Out of Sweet Snacks? 1 Sargento Balanced Break + 1 piece of fruit + Justin’s Peanut Butter; 1 pack Sahale Snacks (1.5 ounces) + hard‐boiled egg (2) + frozen/fresh berries
- Savory Only, Please! Hummus Snack Pack + 1 part‐skim String Cheese + 100‐calorie Almond Packs; Stuff’d Grape Leaves + Peeled Snacks Dried Pineapple + 1 ounce pistachios pack
- All in One Sneal (a snack meal)! GoPicnic Premade To‐Go Lunch Packs; Peanut Butter & Co. To‐Go Lunch Packs; Horizon Organic Good & Go Lunch Packs = all premade options that serve as healthier versions of old‐fashioned lunchboxes!
- I Want a Sandwich! High‐Fiber cracker (Wasa/Mary’s Gone Crackers) + Barney Butter Almond Butter + 1 apple, pear, or banana (sliced) + 1 crudité cup with a side dip + 1 Babybel cheese
- Okay, but What About Snack-Fast (a snack breakfast)? hard‐boiled eggs + fruit salad + crackers to go (2) + 2 tablespoons peanut butter + 16 ounces nonfat milk with cinnamon and cocoa.
For more info: www.dressingonthesidebook.com