Let’s face it – as we near the middle of June and hit the halfway mark of 2021, most of our New Year’s Resolutions are just distant memories. If you are one of the dedicated few who has stuck with all of your resolutions, consider me impressed! If you are like me, however, and surrendered your goals months ago to busy schedules and more pressing priorities, do not get discouraged. It is never too late to implement healthier lifestyle changes into your day-to-day life!
One small but impactful change you can make today is focusing on eating better during your workday! As an avid snacker and potato chip connoisseur, I know how easy it can be to fall victim to the very inviting vending machine at work or to find myself making my tenth visit to my fridge at home to see if anything new speaks to me. Although this is a common rhythm to get into during the busyness of the work week, making better food choices has several physical and mental benefits such as increased energy, higher levels of focus and productivity, fewer sick days, decreased risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and a better mood, to list a few.
Whether you are working from home, commuting to the office, or somewhere in between, here are 5 tips to help you eat better during the workday (that you won’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to start)!
1. Meal Prep Your Lunches
Taking time at the beginning of every week or after your work day to prepare your upcoming meals allows you the freedom to eat what you want, in the portions that you want. Not only does this allow you to make healthier decisions and satisfy your hunger during the busy work day, it can also be a cost-effective alternative to buying daily lunch at the office, ordering in, or raiding the nearest vending machine. To save time, try making bigger batches of one or two meals at the beginning of the week and separating them into daily meals!
2. Plan Time to Eat
Just like you schedule meetings and tasks throughout the day, make sure you plan time to eat your meals and snacks. During this time, focus solely on eating and resist the urge to work through your food breaks. Being distracted while eating often results in over-eating, increased snacking, and less satisfaction. To keep hunger under control, it is recommended to eat every 3-5 hours.
3. Snack More Sensibly
Instead of perusing the vending machine for your daily snack, try packing healthy snacks that are low in fat and sugar and contain fiber and protein to help keep you satisfied longer. Some healthier snack options include popcorn, nuts and seeds, pretzels, high-fiber granola bars and protein bars, fruits, and vegetables.
4. Hydrate Often
Dehydration not only causes us to feel hungrier throughout the day – it also causes headaches and fatigue which results in decreased productivity. Although the daily recommended amount of water is different for each person, health experts recommend drinking at least a half-gallon of water per day. Try keeping a reusable water bottle at your work station to keep yourself motivated and get in the habit of refilling your bottle every few hours.
5. Find Food that Works for You
Do not surrender yourself to a restrictive diet of strictly salads and grilled chicken. Make sure you are choosing foods that you enjoy eating and that will satisfy your needs! Finding food that works for you will allow you to create a sustainable lifestyle and stick to your goals. Although making healthier and more intentional food choices is important to your overall health, don’t forget to enjoy that slice of cake for a co-worker’s birthday or celebratory bowl of ice cream after a long work week – you deserve it!
American Heart Association News. “3 ways to eat healthy at the office”. (www.heart.org/en/news/2018/10/25/3-ways-to-eat-healthy-at-the-office) Accessed June 14, 2021.
Chrichton-Stuart, Kathleen.“What are the benefits of eating healthy?” (www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322268) Accessed June 14, 2021.
Pamensky, Amy. “7 Healthy Eating Habits for Your Busy Work Day” (chopra.com/articles/7-healthy-eating-habits-for-your-busy-work-day) Accessed June 14, 2021.
Taylor, Anna. “10 Tips for Eating Healthy When You’re Working From Home”. Cleveland Clinic, 20 March 2020. (health.clevelandclinic.org/10-tips-for-eating-healthy-when-youre-working-from-home/ ) Accessed June 14, 2021.