Is there always cake in your work kitchen? Are Fridays your treat day, even though you’ve actually treated yourself more than enough times throughout the week?
Whether your downfall is chocolate or pastries from the morning breakfast run, eating well at work is an upward struggle with so many temptations. And with most people spending their lives in the office, it’s hard to get on track and start following a healthy regime.
To help you feel less tired and lethargic, and full of energy, we’ve compiled a list of the best tips to follow to make sure you’re eating well throughout the day.
Read on to learn how to break the bad habits and start eating healthy at work.
1. Don’t Skip Breakfast
I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times before but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! Sarah Elder, a registered dietician, says: ‘The body uses a lot of energy stores for growth and repair through the night. Eating a balanced breakfast helps to up our energy, as well as protein and calcium used throughout the night.'
There are plenty of quick and easy ideas and recipes you can follow for a protein-fuelled breakfast to keep you feeling full and satisfied until lunchtime. For example, you can choose to prepare some oats the night before or pack a couple of healthy cereal bars.
2. Plan Ahead
Healthy eating is all about the right planning and preparation. In fact, many people battling with their diet find that they lose track when they’ve failed to organise themselves properly.
In order to make sure you’re fully prepared to embark on your wellness journey, plan out your meals in advance before you go on your weekly supermarket shop. Think about the full week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and write down what it is you plan to eat that day. I know it might sound silly, but trust me: it will help you stay on track.
3. Buy Things Prechopped
Just because you’re a new and improved culinary wizard, it doesn’t mean that you need to do everything from scratch. So, let the big supermarket chains do the job for you, and buy prechopped veggies or meat to take a step out of your meal preparation.
You can purchase diced chicken and stir-fry veg to make a quick and easy meal in under 15 minutes, for example, or chopped butternut squash to make a simple soup.
4. Use Leftovers
Leftovers can be a great option for lunch, and the plus side is that you won’t need to make two separate meals. Instead, why not cook double the amount the night before and pack yourself a container ready for the following day?
You could also use leftovers to prepare a whole new meal. If you have leftover meat, for example, you could turn it into a stew with fresh vegetables or even a healthy pasta. In addition, you could store it in the freezer (as long as it’s not rice, which carries lots of bacteria) and reheat it later on in the week. It will save you eating that delicious spaghetti bolognese you cooked four days in a row!
5. Don’t Be a Desk Diner
With such a busy schedule, it’s hard to break free from your desk at lunchtime, resulting in you working, eating and typing all at the same time – and as you probably guessed, it’s bad for both your physical and mental health. So much so that your desk, in terms of bacteria, is 400 times dirtier than your toilet!
To refrain from turning your desk into a bacteria cafeteria, start making a conscious effort to at least eat your lunch away from your everyday surroundings. Not only will it save you from unwanted germs, but it will also do wonders for your creativity!
6. Prepare Your Snack Kit
Is snacking your downfall, too? You just can’t resist those chocolate delights your coworker brought in for their birthday, can you? I totally get it! But to help you push past the pain, you need a saviour snack kit – one that will fight the sweet or savoury urge you’re feeling, without all the added calories that come along with the treats you usually indulge in.
So, what do you need in a winner snack kit? Nut butter, rice cakes, unsalted nuts, trail mix, all-natural energy bars and fruit that won’t rot in a day, are all great ideas! You can even throw some healthy popcorn in there, too. If you’re able to store your snacks in the office fridge, meanwhile, opt for fresh fruit with yoghurt, carrot sticks and hummus, or slices of apple to dip into your organic nut butter.
7. Control Your Portion Size
Did you grow up with your parents telling you to finish what’s on your plate? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably subconsciously trained yourself to eat whatever is in front of you, largely because you were taught not waste any food. Instead, why not give yourself smaller portions (and maintain your waistline in the process)?
Do this for snacks, too, especially at the beginning so you can get used to a smaller amount of food. You may even want to start following a balanced diet where you weigh portions with the right amount of food per day.
8. Get Real about What’s Healthy
So, you probably thought sushi was healthy because it’s just a bit of fish and rice, right? Wrong: sushi rice actually contains sugar!
If you’re serious about living a cleaner lifestyle, start familiarising yourself with the health benefits of what you’re eating. If you’re buying a packaged product, for example, make sure you look at the ingredients and the saturated fat. A general rule of thumb is that the food you’re consuming should be under 2.0g of saturated fat.
9. Eat Smart If Dining Out
It’s hard to choose a salad when you’re eating out when you know that restaurant serves a mean burger. Instead, opt to go somewhere that you know has lots of nutritional but tasty options that won’t make you stray from your new regime.
It’s all about eating smart – instead of depriving yourself of going out altogether. And now you know what’s good for you and what isn’t, you’ll be able to make better choices overall.
10. Stay Hydrated
It’s easy to understand how we forget to stay hydrated throughout the day – and with back-to-back meetings and presentations, coffee is the only liquid that keeps us going. However, the beloved caffeinated drink actually makes us dehydrated which, in turn, makes us hungry, as we can often confuse thirst for hunger.
To make sure you drink enough H2O throughout the day, keep a pint glass or bottle of water on your desk and try to drink at least six glasses while you’re at work. Expert nutritionists say this can prevent headaches and tiredness.
But water isn't the only way to stay hydrated; You can also opt for tea, fresh juices and soups. Some great options, according to Lan Thai, aka Chef Lando, include 'green tea, ginger teas, noni juice, and bone broths that are homemade or from reputable sources to keep energy flowing at work.'
11. Say ‘No, Thank You!
There’s always that one tempting colleague in the office who keeps suggesting ordering irresistible doughnuts or Chinese for lunch. You know, the one who eggs you on to indulge in junk ‘just this once’ – not taking into account the 100 times before.
It’s time to start practising saying ‘no, thank you’ to your naughty but nice cubicle pal. That said, you don’t need to make a habit of saying no to everything. You can treat yourself every now and again – just make sure you find the balance and don’t overdo it.
12. Pack Your Food the Night Before
Getting out of bed in the morning and making yourself your first cup of coffee is hard enough without throwing breakfast and lunch preparations in the mix. Who has time to start organising anything at 6am anyway? To make sure you’re all ready for work, get your food sectioned and packed the night before so you can easily grab it on your way out to work!
13. Find Time to Exercise
Not only does regular exercise help keep stress levels down and confidence levels up, it also speeds up your weight loss. Try waking up earlier and doing 30 minutes of exercise before you go to work each day. If you can’t fit a workout into your busy day, though, why not attempt these easy-to-follow desk exercises?
14. Don’t Give Yourself a Hard Time
Eating healthy is tough, especially if you’re used to indulging in fried food and sugary treats, but don’t give yourself a hard time if you happen to fall off the wagon one day. Celebrity fitness coach Joe Wicks says: ‘If you do have a bad day on the food front or you don't manage to [work out], don’t worry about it. We all have bad days. Tomorrow is a new day to get back in control.’
15. Get into a Routine
Essentially, it’s about getting into a new routine and sticking to it. It might be tough to prep and plan what you’re going to eat, especially at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll be like second nature to you. So, get organised to become a better version of yourself!
If you start taking better care of your mind and body, you’ll find that you’re more productive and more energetic throughout the day. You can even avoid that pesky flu crawling around the office if you’ve built a healthy immune system.
Do you have any other tips and tricks you’d like to share with fellow readers about eating healthy at work? Join in on the conversation below and let us know what works for you!