During these challenging times, we may find ourselves being drawn to the pantry or refrigerator and eating out of comfort, stress and boredom. Spending more time at home gives us constant access to food which can lead to mindless snacking and eating. Closings of rec centers, swimming pools and cancellations of summer activities lead to increased screen time and less time being physically active. So what can we do to stay active and be healthy at home?

The key is focusing on being mindful – mindful of what you’re eating, mindful of your hunger and satiety cues and mindful of screen time and inactivity.

5 tips for staying healthy and active at home

Here are five helpful tips and tricks for staying on a healthy and active track while you’re at home!

  1. Limit access to high sugar containing drinks and snacks like juice, soda, lemonade, cookies, cakes, etc. Sometimes the best way to limit access is by not purchasing those items at all.
  2. Have meals and snacks at the table without distractions (no toys, TV, iPad, phones, etc.).
  3. Pay attention to hunger and satiety cues, and be sure that you’re eating out of hunger and not out of boredom. Here are some ways to determine if you’re bored or truly hungry:
    • If you feel like snacking, have a glass of water and then wait 10 minutes, if you’re still hungry, eat!
    • Distract yourself, go for a walk, read a chapter of a book; if after doing so, you still feel hungry have a snack!
    • Give yourself 20-30 minutes to finish a meal. This allows your brain enough time to communicate with your belly to signal whether or not you’re full. If you’re still hungry after eating for 30 minutes, have seconds, but fill up on veggies or lean proteins.
  4. Have healthy snacks! Aim for a protein and fiber containing food with each snack. Good examples include low-fat yogurt topped with fruit, boiled egg with cheese stick, celery with peanut butter, apple slices and nuts, carrots dipped in low fat dressing or hummus.
  5. Get active! Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity every day.
    • This includes doing chores, walking the dog, picking up the mail at the mailbox.
    • You can also do outdoor activities while being mindful of social distancing – go for a family bike ride or hike, take a walk around the neighborhood, go for a jog, play soccer with siblings and parents.
    • Break up exercise into smaller increments, exercise for 10 minutes at a time. Aim to do this at least 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, evening).

Hopefully, these tips can help you stay healthy and active while spending more time at home!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Nicolais Hannah Nicolais, MS, RDN, CNSC, is a pediatric dietitian at the Pediatric Specialists of Virginia.
Pediatric Specialists of Virginia is a medical group created by Children's National Hospital and Inova Health System to be focused exclusively on caring for children. Our specialists are recognized as “Top Docs” by Washingtonian and Northern Virginia Magazine and have appeared in U.S. News & World Report as leading experts in their fields.

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