HOW TO EAT HEALTHY AT WORK: 7 HEALTHY EATING TIPS FOR THE OFFICE
These tips will help you improve your mood and productivity at work. They include smart snacks, hydration, planning and mindful dining.
In the past, most people worked on the land. More people are sitting at their desks today than ever before. The convenience of electronic devices and cars that save us labour make our lives more sedentary. It’s easy to fall ill from the wide variety of food choices available in offices and the lack of nutritional science-based research results.
Poor nutrition can hurt our health and productivity at work. It can also affect concentration and energy levels and cause frustration, irritability and impatience. A study showed that employees who participated in a wellness program with nutritional programs had higher productivity. This was “approximately equivalent to an additional monthly work day for the average worker.”
It’s well-known that we need to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. However, it can be difficult when you work nine hours a day, have a two-hour commute, and have a 16-hour daily life.
Healthy eating at work: Tips
1. Learn from others
Learning about the nutritional values and impacts of food and drink is important. While most people will be able to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods, nutrition is much more than just good vs. bad. There are many myths surrounding various foods. For example, sushi and granola bars contain more sugar than most people believe.
You can make easy and simple changes to your diet to improve your health and work performance. Eggs on toast is a healthier option than jam. You can also swap sugar for protein, zinc and iron, vitamin D, and the brain-boosting chemical, choline. It is also a myth egg consumption can increase cholesterol.
2. Establishing a routine
Bad habits are often caused by poor planning and letting go of a healthy routine. You’ll be prepared for healthy meals and healthier choices, whether you make your own or use a recipe from a cookbook. You’re also making your eating decisions before getting hungry.
Simple is key to simplicity. Make a simple meal that you can bring into work. You might also consider buying healthy snacks like carrot sticks, nuts, and seeds on your way to work. This will help you avoid impulse purchases such as candy at the vending machines and crisps/potato chips.
3. Don’t skip meals
Stella George, Aetna International Senior Medicine Director, said eating right and regularly is as important as eating healthy and getting the right nutrients. You should not skip meals or leave it too long between healthy snacks. Your glucose levels will drop making it difficult to concentrate. Also, you are more likely to overeat and eat the wrong foods at your next meal.
There are many negative consequences to skipping meals
- Other times are more likely for you to overeat
- It is more likely that you will gain weight
- Mood can be negatively affected
- As blood sugar and energy drop, concentration suffers
Do not skip breakfast. Doing so can make you more vulnerable to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health problems such as atherosclerosis. The first meal of the day can help your body to reduce calories and keep cortisol levels low in the morning. You may feel anxious or jittery if you have high levels of cortisol.
4. Keep hydrated
Being dehydrated at work can cause poor productivity, cognitive impairment, slower reaction times, and even lower morale. It is vital to keep hydrated, but it is best to drink water, not sugary or caffeine-laden drinks, as these can cause side effects such as hyperglycaemia, dehydration, and sleep disruption.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine dehydrates the body. Some workplaces have banned energy drinks, including those containing taurine, due to their high-caffeinated content and lack of nutritional value.
After-work drinks can help team building and increase morale, but too much alcohol can disrupt sleep and dehydrate you. And no one is ever as productive as a hungover person!
5. Smart lunching
Healthy eating during busy days is not only important, but it can also prove to be difficult. A perfect lunch should contain protein, sugars and fat, fibre, carbohydrates, and other nutrients.
Dr Stella explained that high-carb meals such as pasta, bread, and cereals release glucose quickly, which can give you a rush of energy, followed by a slump. This drains our motivation and attention. A high-fat meal provides more energy but requires our digestive system to work harder. This reduces oxygen levels in our brain and makes us feel groggy.
One study found that people were happier, more engaged and more creative if they consumed more fruits and veggies (up to seven portions). Because fruits and vegetables are rich in vital nutrients, dopamine, which is responsible for our curiosity, motivation and engagement, this study has shown that. They are also rich in antioxidants, which can improve mood and memory.
Planning is a great way to ensure a healthy lunch. You can, for example, shop for all the ingredients of a large salad that will fill you up. This includes not only cucumber and lettuce, but also cabbage, peppers, and carrots.
6. Sensible snacking
Although many people try to avoid snacking, eating the right foods and maintaining your energy levels throughout the day is possible. Hunger can distract you from your work, and many people succumb to the temptation of snacking at the vending machines full of sugary, salty, and fatty junk. There are healthier ways to snack that can boost your productivity and mood.
What’s a good snack to bring to work? You can eat nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. For example, carrots and green beans are great snacks. These high-protein snacks are great for those who have difficulty falling asleep.
Preparation is key, as with many other parts of this list. To avoid vending machines, prepare a bag of snacks or a box for your home.
7. Mindful eating
What we eat directly affects our energy levels, focus, and concentration power. It is difficult to commit to a healthy lifestyle 100% of the time. We can relax and enjoy the occasional treat by paying more attention to what and when we eat. The 80/20 rule is a good one. Make the best decisions most of the time, and treats will become a treat, not a regular one. Dr Stella says this will improve your mood, concentration, and energy levels.
Mindfulness is a way to be present in the moment and accept your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Mindful eating is paying attention to what you eat and how it is prepared and consumed. Take this example:
- Be mindful of the health benefits of each item that you add to your shopping cart
- Do not eat based upon your hunger. You may find yourself tempted to eat more that you need.
- Start small and wait to eat more as you grow.
- Enjoy your food
- As you prepare and consume your food, consider its colour, texture, smell, and sound.
- Slowly eat by taking small bites, chewing slowly and taking your time. Pause between mouthfuls
- You don’t always have to eat all of your food
- You have the right to say no
- Mindful eating means making conscious choices about what you eat, not just letting your mind wander into unhealthy eating habits.
- There are no cheats, just like with exercise. You must do the hard work. Willpower is key to healthy eating. This can include saying no. You can say no to cake, sweets at work and snacks in meetings like pastries and biscuits.
Healthy eating at work has many benefits
Bad nutrition can hurt our health and productivity at work. It can also affect our moods and cause frustration, irritability and impatience.
It will help to understand healthy and balanced nutrition, and provide advice on how you can optimize your work diet so that you reap the benefits of its effects.
- Cognitive function
- Immune system
- Energy levels
- Mental health
- Lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease are possible
You can improve your work performance and overall health using the following strategies and techniques.
Aetna International: How we can help
Aetna’s CARE team is a single point for contact and helps plan members get the care they need. We can assist you in establishing a hospital admission, finding specialists and providing advice from medical professionals to help you build and maintain healthy eating habits.