Whether we’re dealing with a global pandemic or just the regular frustrations that frequently pop up throughout our days, it’s all too easy to get sucked into a cycle of stress eating — even if helping people eat healthier is literally your job.
That’s what nutritionist Julie Upton, RD, recently opened up about in an article for US News & World Report. After gaining weight in quarantine from stress snacking on what she calls “C” foods (cheese, crackers, chips, chocolate, and cookies), Upton made a few swaps that helped her shed those pounds and feel a lot better overall.
The first important step is to actually plan your snack times, not just mindlessly graze. Upton gives herself two slots for snacking each day, but doesn’t specify any particular time she recommends for noshing. It really just depends on your own personal schedule, so take a look at your daily routine and map out the best moments to add in a snack or two.
Upton didn’t completely give up her “C” foods, either — she just tweaked them to be a little healthier. For example, she still enjoys freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, but sweetens them with stevia-based, zero-calorie sugar, like Pyure Organic Stevia ($8.98, Amazon). She also uses Lily’s Dark Chocolate Baking Chips ($5.95, Vitacost) for antioxidants. Upton claims the results taste just as great as regular chocolate chip cookies, but with about half the calories.
When she’s not baking, Upton satisfies her sweet tooth with fruit smoothies made from antioxidant-rich blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, plus some greens like spinach or kale for fiber. Another guilt-free sweet treat she likes to grab: Pre-packaged fruit and nut bars, like KIND’s Blueberry, Vanilla, and Cashew bar ($14.22, Amazon).
On the savory side of snacking, Upton lists options like broccoli florets, which are packed with plenty of vitamin C and even a little protein, and low-fat dip. She also always has a container of hard boiled eggs in her fridge for some protein, A, D, E, and B vitamins, and minerals like zinc and selenium. Pistachios are another protein-rich choice that also serves as a “moment of Zen” while cracking open shells.
You don’t have to follow Upton’s exact choices, but can definitely use them as inspiration for your own healthier snacks. For example, her stevia swap for cookies can help cut calories in all sorts of baked goods — and the emphasis on nutrient-rich fresh fruits and veggies is something we should all follow.
Bottom line: We can keep ourselves happy and full without going overboard and give ourselves a healthy boost at the same time!