Do your healthy eating goals go out of the window every time you’re at work?
It's no secret that working environments can have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing both mental and physical.
Long periods of sitting at a desk paired with sugary snacks and drinks and lots of caffeine to ‘power’ you through the day are a great recipe for weight gain.
But it's not all doom and gloom. If you're working from home at the moment, now is a great time to form healthy habits that will set you up for success when you return to the office environment. Here are our top 5 tips for healthy eating at work to help get you started...
1. Start your day off right
Never skip breakfast. According to nutritionists not having breakfast can make you more stressed at work because your cortisol levels are high after losing energy while you were sleeping. If you don’t refuel, your body will start to break down muscle to replenish its energy reserves instead.
Starting your day with a healthy breakfast will set the tone for the day and make it easier to snack less. Avoid the tempting bacon sandwiches, pastries and the like and rather opt for unsweetened yoghurt, fruit, porridge, smoothies, or whole-grain cereals with low sugar content.
2. Swap your snacks & make a meal plan
High sugar snacks are often the culprits driving up your calorie intake. But that doesn’t mean you should cut out snacks completely. Swap them for healthier choices such as nuts, rice cakes, carrot sticks and hummus or protein bars.
Planning all your meals out a week in advance may seem like a lot of work but it’s quite easy really and can even be fun! Plan out what you’re going to have every meal and then try to stick to it. A healthy diet is about variety so make sure you are incorporating plenty of fruit and veg and avoid eating the same things every day.
Batch cooking your lunches and freezing them on the weekend for the week ahead means they’re ready to grab when you’re in a rush. If you’ve ever calculated how much you spend on lunches a year, you’ll know that bringing your lunch to work makes sense financially too!
3. Stay hydrated
Your body finds it hard to distinguish between thirst and hunger. Not drinking enough water throughout the day can make you tired, easily distracted and irritable. Keeping a bottle of water on your desk and making a habit of carrying a water bottle with you when you’re out and about will remind you to hydrate. If you don’t like the taste of plain water try adding some mint, lemon, cucumber, or fruit to give it some flavour.
4. Respect Lunchtime
It’s common knowledge that taking some time out at lunchtime makes you more productive and can boost your concentration for the afternoon. “I didn’t have time to eat” shouldn’t be a badge of honour.
Always try to eat away from your desk because chances are you’re not fully enjoying your meal or chewing it properly, and you’re also not fully processing the emails or work tasks you’re trying to complete at the same time.
Eating your lunch outside (weather permitting!) is also a great mood booster. Your body and brain need a robust and regular dose of nutrients to keep your decision-making abilities, alertness, and focus sharp. If possible, block out 30 minutes on your schedule every day for lunch, and your colleagues won’t unknowingly schedule meetings during that time.
5. Involve your team
In an office environment, it’s easy to build unhealthy rituals as a team. That Friday chocolate run, Sue bringing in biscuits or the endless cycle of office birthdays and the cakes that come with them are just some examples. Deciding as a team to address these unhealthy habits will make it easier to hold each other accountable.
When you return to the office environment why not pick one day a week that you go out for lunch with a colleague or your team? This will be great for team building and you’ll get to try somewhere new. It’s also a great networking opportunity with colleagues you may not know well or who work in other departments. You’ll learn more about them and might even make a new friend!