How to Eat Well and Healthy at Work

 Having a balanced diet plays an important role in one’s health and wellbeing. Eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains can reduce the risk of some mental health conditions such as depression. In addition, healthy mealtime helps your brain get the nutrients it needs to function and keep you well all day, especially at work where you are required to focus on challenging tasks and responsibilities.

On the contrary, unhealthy eating habits have contributed to the obesity epidemic. In the U.S., for instance, about one-third of adults (33.8 per cent) are obese and approximately 17 percent (12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese due to eating an unhealthy diet like junk foods, CDC reported. Besides obesity, unhealthy food also accounts for high-blood pressure, high cholesterols, heart disease and stroke, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and so on. 

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That being said, the links between good nutrition and a healthy diet are too important to ignore. By taking steps to eat well, you will be on your way to get the nutrients your body needs and live a healthy life. Making small changes in your diet requires a commitment, but it is easier to go to that way rather than bearing the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

“How you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future lies in your food choices.”

So, how do you suppose to eat at work? If your workplace does not offer healthy options, the best thing is to prepare your own foods. Bringing your own lunch is way cheaper and healthier than buying a ready meal. It will also save your energy and time of walking too far when your company does not have a healthy cafeteria nearby. 

Get the right meal  in your lunch sack 

To prevent hunger pangs between meals and overindulging at mealtimes, spread your food intake over five to six smaller meals and snacks, rather than eating three large meals a day.  Thus, when packing your lunch, make sure you throw a few snacks into your lunch box such as mozzarella cheese sticks, hummus, sliced apples, mandarin oranges, and fruit or yoghurts. 

For the main course, you can prepare foods that contain the following points: 

  • Complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, or brown rice. 
  • Protein such as salmon, chicken, tuna, nuts, tofu, beans, turkey, lean beef, or eggs. 
  • Low-fat dairy products such as low-fat milk, reduced-fat cheeses, yoghurt, or soy milk. 
  • Assorted fruits such as oranges, apples, avocados, mangos, blueberries, raisins, or bananas.

Prepare your meal while you make dinner 

Preparing your lunch foods while making your dinner will save your time so you won’t be in a rush in the morning. It is easy as all you should do is make an extra serving of your dinner and set it aside for the next day. However, if you don’t want to eat the same meals for two days in a row and want different things, you can prepare different things or do something new with the food you have. 

As an example, your dinner is roasted chicken with some potatoes and mustard greens. For lunch, you can slice the same roasted chicken and prepare it with a whole-wheat pita with some onion and apple slices. Or, you can toss it in with some whole-wheat pasta and broccoli. Simple, cheap, and healthy!

Organise a weekly “lunch club” with your co-workers 

To make it more fun, you can form a lunch club where everyone can bring their own meal. It can be once a week or two weeks, depending on your team preference. Then, each member can have a taste of different meal from someone’s lunch box. Or, each member should bring a different meal for each meeting. Always highlight healthy options on each member’s favourite takeout menus. 

For example, Anna brings the main dish. Dash brings the appetizer, Charlie brings snacks or desserts. The schedule will be rolled and each person will bring foods that are enough for the whole member. 

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Have you ever caught yourself yawning after having that chicken sandwich for lunch? Or do you find it quite a struggle to get through the rest of the day without having a caffeine intake? Well, you are not alone.

Blood sugar levels will rise as your body start processing your lunch. But when those levels eventually fall an hour or two afterwards, your energy levels tend to drop to its minimum point too. When this happens, it comes as no surprise that you often feel tired and sleepy. While it is natural and understandable for human body to call out a rest after awakened for seven hours, being at the workplace requires you to stay awake and efficient after lunch.

What should you do to beat the sleepiness and remain productive while putting in the remaining hours? Read on the following tips on how you can minimise post-lunch dip and preserve your power through the afternoon.

  1. Start your day the right way

The way you start your morning will set the mood for your entire day. It is always a good idea to wake up early in the morning and have light exercise. Not only this will keep you healthy, such habits will help prepare your body and mind. Before going to work, you should have a proper breakfast that will give you the energy to seize the day.

  1. Eat healthy during lunch

While you might need some heavy foods to refill your energy, you should make it as healthy as possible. Avoid unhealthy foods that contain too much oil, sugar, salts, or preservatives such as junk food. Containing lots of calories and less of nutrients, these foods will make you drowsy.

  1. Get some light exercise

Physical activity will help you stay awake because it improves blood flow and thus increases energy. The moment you catch yourself yawning, you should get up and have some light exercise. Be it some stretching on your desk or walking around your office, simple workout will wipe out your stupor and refresh up your spirit.

  1. Listen to your favourite music

Study has proven that listening to music can be a good productivity booster. Put on your headphone and tune in your favourite music to keep you company while completing your tasks.

  1. Start a conversation

When one feels bored of their routine, it tends to be easier for them to get sleepy during work hours. Therefore, instead of talking only to the computer all day, it is crucial for you to get social and start a conversation with your co-workers. Take some time to catch up and engage with your colleagues, and then you can find new nerve to work on your projects.

  1. Take a power nap

While not every company allows their employees to take nap at work, you might be able to sneak a quick 10 or 15 minutes nap during break hours. Taking power nap will help you stay focused even after lunch.

  1. Change your sleep habit

Lack of sleep often becomes the main culprit behind one’s sleepiness at work. Owing to which, you should make sure that you have healthy sleeping habit of at least seven to eight hours a night.

“Hey. Want to grab some burgers from that new café?”

“Nah. I’m waiting for urgent calls so I’ll just have lunch in my cube.”

Do you often experience similar case as above? When the deadlines are coming close, it makes us feel like we cannot spare those precious 30 minutes to get out of the desk. Everything can happen in minutes, so if we take lunch away from the telephone and computer, we are afraid that we will miss urgent calls or emails. Most workers will agree that eating at their desk is not an uncommon activity. In fact, most of us must have done at some point in time.

There are various reasons why people choose eating at their desk rather than allocating some time to the office cafeteria. Some people think that getting lunch at their cube or desks is okay because it will save them time and is more practical, while some others are simply too comfy sitting on the chair that they do not care to move. Whatever the reason is, lunch is not merely sometime to gulp in food, so you have energy to get the job done.

More than that, lunch should be a great time to refresh your body and mind after hours of being immersed in the pile of work. Instead of efficiency and practicality, eating lunch at desk will bring you more minuses than pluses. If you need to be convinced, check out the disadvantages of eating lunch at desk:

Messy and smelly desk

One obvious reason to never eat lunch on your desk is because it will make your cube all messy and smelly. Desk is the place where you finish your jobs, so you should make it comfortable to keep it clean and neat. If you bring your lunch to the desk, imagine eating sandwich or toast and you accidentally leave crumbs here and there. It will make the table all dirty and ants soon come swarming the desk, not to mention the mess it will create.

In addition, lunch will make your cube smelly, especially if you bring strong smelling foods such as onions, cheese, pickles, sauerkraut, or ginger. Even if these smells are perfectly fine to you, it will spread to the entire room and you can never know how your co-workers will react. So to be safe, it is better not to do such a thing.

Bad work relationship

If you keep refusing your co-workers invitation to eat outside, they would get wrong ideas that you hate socialising with them. Not only will it cause misunderstanding, but you will also lose an opportunity to build interpersonal relationships with your colleagues.

In work relationship, to create better teamwork, it is important to know your co-worker personally. By having lunch together, you can share personal stuffs such as families, hobbies, interests, or simply latest gossips. Simple and light conversation will help you know better your co-workers better and exchange positive vibes.

By doing so, it will create better communication that will be useful in accomplishing projects and tasks. Moreover, if some conflicts among colleagues arises in the future, you will know how to deal with them as you know their characters and personalities.

Unhealthy

What happens if you have lunch while staring at your computer 9 hours straight in a day? Multitasking and finishing the job earlier? Nope. It will only make you unhealthy. First, you will only be stressful as you cannot get your attention away from work.  Second, you have no chance to get up and move from your desk, which is not good for your bone.

Third, staring at the screen too long will make your eyes tired and worsen your eyesight. Fourth, you cannot get fresh air to energise your mind. Fifth, you will have no time for a short-walk after lunch to burn some calories so the foods will not pile up and become fat. Considering all these disadvantages, are you still reluctant from taking lunch break outside of your work desk?

Less productive

Surprisingly, eating lunch at the desk does not make you more productive. Contrary to popular beliefs, eating lunch at desk does not improve one’s productivity and efficiency. If you think that you can focus on the job while munching your lunch, you are wrong.

Our body and brain has physical limitation that needs to be rested, and eating out with your co-workers is the simplest thing you can do to refresh them. After coming back from lunch, you will be ready to maximise your productivity until the rest of the day.

Human beings are not a tireless robot. At the workplace, lunch is the perfect time when you can get mental breaks to keep your health and sanity. If you happen to read this piece while lunching at your desk, then move out of your seat now and join your co-worker outside.

Next read: Is Working Shifts Compromising Your Health?