Adhering to quarantine rules became a part of everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many people still working from home to maintain social distancing ordinances combined with an overall lack of physical activity, it can lead to unhealthy snacking and weight gain.
It can be difficult to maintain healthy eating while working from home. But with these healthy snacks, working from home and keeping the pounds off won’t be an impossible task.
Chickpeas are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Not only are chickpeas an easy snack but they reduce the risk of diseases, improve digestion, and help with weight management(1). Because chickpeas contain a high amount ofprotein and fiber, they can help you stay full longer and even lower your calorie intake throughout the day and at meals(2).
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, chickpeas are especially a great option as they are high in protein and make an excellent replacement for meat. They also contain essential amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins needed for crucial processes like the building of proteins and the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.
For a quick and easy snack, roast chickpeas in the oven with olive oil, salt and your favorite seasonings. To roast them, spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them into an oven that’s been preheated to 350 degrees. Once they are crispy, remove the chickpeas from the oven and add them to a bowl along with seasonings such as olive oil, chili powder, thyme and salt. Toss well and serve. If you like your chickpeas extra crispy, toss them into an air fryer for another healthy, alternative cooking method.
Chickpeas can be cooked, smashed and blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and spices for a quick, healthy homemade hummus snack. People who eat chickpeas and/or hummus have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium and iron compared to those who don’t eat chickpeas(3).
Hard-boiled eggs are a low-calorie snack that provides a high source of protein, choline, biotin, vitamin A and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin(4).
The protein found in eggs can help refuel your body and control hunger. One large egg has approximately six grams of protein(5). Eating a diet higher in protein can improve your body’s thermal levels. It takes more energy for your body to metabolize and store protein than other macronutrients, which may help increase your energy and the number of calories you burn each day(6).
A high protein diet can also improve your body composition and appearance. Eating protein-rich snacks such as hard-boiled eggs may help you retain lean muscle during weight loss, helping boost your energy levels(7).
For an easier snack prep, make a large batch of hard-boiled eggs in advance. When left in their shells, they can stay refrigerated for up to one week. Boiled eggs can also be chopped and placed on top of a spinach salad or layered over chicken or tuna salad.
Protein smoothies aren’t just for breakfast. Smoothies can also serve as a healthy, afternoon pick-me-up, making them an easy way to pack fruits and veggies into your diet.
By loading up on a protein-rich snack such as a protein smoothie and skipping a carb-heavy snack, you can reduce the hunger hormone and boost several satiety hormones. This may lead to a major reduction in hunger helping you eat fewer calories and lose weight since high-protein foods promote postprandial thermogenesis and greater satiety(8).
Blend a smoothie using fresh or frozen fruits, mix with some form of calcium such as almond, rice, coconut or cows milk, and add some additional nutritional value by tossing in your choice of hemp seeds, greekyogurtor even greens like spinach or kale.
Avocados contain nutrients and bioactive compounds that may help reduce your risk of becoming overweight or obese, support cardiovascular health and aid in healthy aging(9).
Nutrient-rich avocados contain high amounts of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.
The vitamin C found in avocados make them a healthy snack for keeping the pounds off because people who consume adequate vitamin C oxidize 30 percent more fat while performing moderate exercise versus people with low vitamin C levels(10). When you’re depleted of vitamin C, your body may be more resistant to fat loss.
An observational study that examined the nutritional patterns of Americans found that those who ate avocados tended to have healthier diets, a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and lower body weight than those who didn't eat avocados(11). Avocados also contain high amounts of monounsaturated fat. The oleic acid in monounsaturated fat is healthy and has shown todecrease inflammation and lower the risk of developing heart disease(12).
Try eating avocado toast as a snack that can be dressed up or served simple. For a simple avocado snack, smash a ripe avocado, add a little fresh lime or lemon juice and spread over a piece of toasted bread.
Although nuts are high in fat and calories, they are a healthy snack that may help you lose weight. Nuts are rich in protein and dietary fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer in between meals. They contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols that could prevent cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes(13).
Nuts can help prevent many chronic diseases as they are good sources of vegetable proteins, dietary fiber, antioxidants, plant sterols and unsaturated fatty acids(14). Walnuts are one of the best choices for snacking. They have the highest amount of antioxidants and are associated the most with lower diabetes risk, compared to other nuts.
Try eating walnuts with an apple topped with a healthy nut butter for a quick, healthy snack. For a snack that’s sweet yet healthy, try sprinkling turmeric, cinnamon or cocoa powder on raw nuts or seeds and roasting them at 350°F.
Eating snacks while working from home doesn’t mean your body weight has to suffer. From avocado toast to raw nuts, these healthy snack options are packed with nutrients and can help you keep your weight in check.
Laura Tolliver - Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice