How to Eat Healthier at the Office
If you are one of those people who rush to office with barely enough time to grab a cup of coffee before leaving and then go on to eat high calorie junk foods like doughnuts and pastries for breakfast, you are not doing your health a favor.
Why is it Important to Eat Healthy?
When you leave hungry from home to face a grueling work-day starting with a commute in traffic, you are actually spoiling your health.
Fasting for so many hours – the gap between dinner and breakfast lengthens even more when you don’t have breakfast – can lead to digestive problems, acidity and even obesity. It can also cause sugar spikes. Along with unhealthy eating habits this can be a factor many lifestyle diseases, impact your mood, cause irritability and worse. It can even affect productivity in the office and affect your work, without your realizing it.
If you treat food as a medicine and decide to eat healthy at the workplace, you will find that your health improves, your immunity levels go up and it you are more energetic. All these help prevent workplace absenteeism, go a long way in staving off many diseases and increase productivity and creativity.
5 Ways to Make the Office Diet Healthy
Small steps go a long way to make you healthier. Nobody likes to be sick and unwell, even if this does not necessitate staying at home and missing work. In fact, when you are unwell in the office you do not work at your best and, if you are suffering from any infection, you can spread it to your co-workers.
You can improve your immune system when you start by eating right. Here are some easy ways that you can make your office diet healthy.
Eat breakfast at home. If you find that you are short of time, then make some preparations for your breakfast the night before. You can pre-cook meals that can be heated while you go for your shower (think of cooked cereals). Or you can make a glass of jar of granola, fruits and yogurt that you can just grab from the refrigerator.
It just take a few minutes to pop a few toasts and have with your favorite (and healthy spread) or eggs along with a glass of milk or a tub of yogurt. Pick up an apple or banana or pear that really need no preparation and can be had on the way.
If you can brown bag your lunch, then that is ideal as you can choose healthy options. Whole grain wraps and rolls or whole-wheat bread with nutritious and healthy fillings is a great choice. Add some salad to this and you are good to go. Among filling options are roasted chicken, steamed fish, hummus, beans and vegetables, cheese and loads of greens. Skip the fries and pickles. Add some fresh fruit to round off the meal. This is easy to pack and easy to eat as well.
You could even pack in just a pot meal (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or noodles or quinoa or couscous made with a number of ingredients) that can be microwaved before eating.
Now there will be times when you are hungry or you simply want something to munch. If you are working late or are stressed and have missed a meal, you may not want to eat regular food. If you stuff yourself with cookies, sweets and other junk food simply because it is convenient and comes in a packet, is easily available and effortless to keep in your desk drawer, remember that you will not be eating healthy.
So what are the snacks that you can have without affecting your health? Among the easy to eat and keep snacks that you can have on hand are
- Dry fruit
- Trail mix
- Fresh fruit
- Protein bars
- Whole grain crackers
- Protein shake
- Hummus with vegetables
- A mix of different seeds
- Instant oats
You can choose from crunchy and savory options to sweet ones or even smooth ones that are easy on the tummy. Combine one or more for more nutrition. Items like yogurt and hummus do need to be refrigerated.
Hydration is very important so drink sufficient water. If possible, keep a bottle at your desk and refill it from time to time. While water is best you can also have some coffee, green tea and unsweetened beverages if you must. Avoid too much coffee with caffeine as it can actually be dehydrating.
Consider having a glass of skim milk occasionally. Avoid alcohol at all times in the office whether it is the occasional lunch with an important client or a tipple after work with colleagues and friends.
- Junk food
Avoid junk food in the office. Foods made with refined flour and containing sugar are especially bad for health. Whether it is cake for someone’s birthday, pizza or burgers, learn to say no. If you must, reduce your portion of cake and pizza if you cannot refuse point-blank.
Sometimes office workers bring special foods as a treat or they come from out of town carrying some sweets. It may not be possible to refuse always, but you should be mindful and restrict eating empty low calorie foods that will expand your waistline and disrupt your healthy diet.
Once you develop a reputation for healthy eating, colleagues won’t trouble you so much. For the same reason avoid unhealthy vending machine snacks. At the same time if you have a craving for junk food, try to opt for healthier options (whole-wheat pizza with lots of vegetables or healthy meat or a whole-wheat burger with lots of salad) and if you do give in on the rare occasion, don’t beat yourself over your indulgence.
Prepare for a Healthier Office Diet
If you have been used to indulging in the wrong and unhealthy foods, it may not be possible to changeover in one day unless you have a great deal of will power. You can take small steps if that is what suits you, one meal at a time.
At the same time you need to change your shopping habits. It is only when you stock up on healthy meal options that you can change your diet. When you go food shopping, avoid buying high fat, high sugar, high sodium and foods made with refined and processed ingredients.
According to the CDC, many people in America have limited access to healthy nutritious food. If you are in any such area, then you may have to shop around for healthier, organic and green options where food is concerned.
Many ready-to-eat or prepare items have additives, fillers, emulsifiers, improvers, chemicals and preservatives and that is why they have a long shelf life and stay soft or crunchy, depending on the kind of item you buy. None of these are healthy. Sugar free items may have various sugar substitutes that come with a number of possible side effects that can negatively affect your health. And if they come with natural sweeteners instead of sugar (think of honey, applesauce, dates and others), keep in mind that they will still have added calories.
What Food Items should you Buy?
As far as possible stock up on healthy fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed products, whole-wheat and other grain products and items that need to be cooked from scratch. While these may take some extra preparation or cooking time, they are much healthier.
Avoid buying jars and cans of soups, sauces, beans and meats as these are heavily processed. Instead of canned fruit, buy fresh. Instead of cooked and canned beans, buy the raw ones and soak and cook them yourself. Canned meats and fish are usually highly processed and contain many unwanted ingredients. Even sauces like mayo and ketchup will taste better when you make them from scratch.
How to make Food for Office Quickly?
You do need some pre-preparation for changing your office diet and opting for healthier alternatives. You can either do much of the preparation work the night before or leave some time in the morning to get it done. It is also possible that some preparation work can be done on weekends.
At the same time it is important that prepared ingredients are stored at the right temperatures. If you carry food from home, do keep it refrigerated in the office to prevent bacterial formation. For hot food items, you may zap them in the microwave.
Many offices that provide some kinds of breakfast to the staff are now more aware of healthy eating and the trend is to have healthier meal options on offer. However, many offices do give you a great deal of free food that may not be healthy. In case you get a choice of office food, do opt for items that are healthy rather than junk foods and restrict the amount you take anyway.
That free food may be contributing to obesity and take its toll thanks to possible medical problems you may face sooner or later since junk food is a major factor in
- Heart disease
- Dental problems
- High blood pressure
- Joint disorders
If your office is still not providing healthy options start talking about it and sooner or later, if people are in a consensus, the higher-ups in the office will change the meals or snacks to healthier options. After all, it is in their best interests to have a healthier workforce.
Portion Control in the Office
In case you are already having your own packed meals, you are obviously getting only a restricted amount from home. However, if you are eating from outside (even if they are healthier options) you should exercise portion control and eat mindfully, not over-eating. Stop before you are completely full – you really don’t have to finish everything on your plate.
It is also a good idea not to eat at your desk when you are working. It is not just that you risk contaminating your keyboard, mouse and phone while eating, encouraging the growth of germs, you may well eat more. When you are otherwise occupied and eating, you will possibly eat more and not be satisfied since you are not practicing mindful eating.
If you can go out to the park for your lunch, you can have a walk, move more and have a break from work as well. When you have to go out for lunch to a restaurant or café, simply choose healthier meal options that are usually available – grilled or steamed foods instead of fried, soup, salads and fruits are all good bets. You will then go back to your desk fresher ready to tackle the rest of the day. In fact, you should attempt to move more during office hours to burn more calories and become fitter.
Office Diet is Important
You have to eat healthy in your office to stave off disease, stay in fine fettle and be more productive. A diet comprising fresh and whole foods is good for your entire system and your mental and emotional health as well. When you look good, you feel good.
When you put in so many hours of work (40 hours or more in a week) for so many years, you do not want to spoil your retirement life by battling diseases or obesity. And when you eat healthy in the office, you will be more productive as well, so your career will get a boost, too.
You will actually save money when you eat healthy, not because good food is cheaper (unhealthy foods are often much cheaper) but because you will enjoy better health. You will also develop a taste for more natural foods instead of artificial ones.
So make the decision to eat healthier in the office and act on it.