With a new lockdown, many of us are finding ourselves spending prolonged periods of time indoors. This can lead us to experience cravings or pangs for food we do not need.

Jenny Tschiesche, registered nutritional therapist and founder of The Lunchbox Doctor, explains that for many, the hunger for food is actually a need to fill the boredom gap or a need for some form of distraction.

“A lack of daylight can also mean a lack of vitamin D, which – combined with stress at this time – means we tend to want to eat sweet foods as a quick fix for low mood and low blood sugar,” she adds.

Snacking isn’t always a bad thing, but it is important to try and eat proper, nutrient dense meals and stick to meal times, rather than substituting for lots of snacks instead. Focus on including a combination of complex carbohydrate (e.g. wholegrains and vegetables) and good quality protein, (e.g. meat, fish, eggs or pulses) in each meal. This should help to control blood sugars and reduce the need for snacks.

However, if you do find yourself craving something between meals, consider whether you are stomach hungry or mouth hungry. "Stomach hunger is a physical need for food (e.g growling tummy) whilst mouth hunger is when you just fancy something," says Tschiesche. 

"Try to think ‘thirst first’. Drink some water or even a cup of tea, get up and move around the house. Then, see if the hunger is genuine after 10-20 minutes."

If you are genuinely hungry for a snack, there are lots of healthier options that can provide a more sustainable source of energy, rather than causing your blood sugars to spike.

Healthy snack ideas

  • Fresh fruit with a small handful of nuts
  • Savoury wholemeal or buckwheat muffin
  • Falafels
  • Chicken nibbles (avoid processed chicken)
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Vegetables sticks (e.g cucumber, carrot, celery or pepper) with hummus or yoghurt dip
  • Sliced apple with nut butter
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Homemade nut biscuits or seed flapjacks
  • Homemade popcorn with cinnamon
  • Oatcakes or wholemeal toast with cream cheese, pesto, hummus, pate or peanut butter

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