One of the biggest curses of working in an office environment is the temptation to snack, overeat and indulge in a ‘slice of cake’ because the rest of the team are. And who can blame you? When you’re running on fumes but have got a tight deadline to meet, a bar of chocolate could prove to be the savior you’re searching for.
But is it?
In this article, we’ll strive to prove that it is possible to keep the pounds at bay and maintain healthy eating habits at work.
Why is staying healthy at work so important?
The truth is – very few of us have the luxury of having an active job that allows us to exercise and eat right. Instead, we are often confined for hours at a time to our desk, staring at a screen and sitting still.
Fun right? Now, whilst you might love your job, this kind of lifestyle doesn’t always afford you the luxury of staying on the straight and narrow. If anything, the stress and demands of your job could cause you to pick up some nasty eating habits. After all, it is much easier to pick up a biscuit, a can of coke or a slice of cake – especially when everyone else in the office is doing it – than it is to resist temptation and stick to your carrots sticks and pre-packaged meals.
Next, of course, there is the convenience element. When you’re under pressure, it is easy to fall into the habit of eating at your desk. And if that is the case, then you want something that is quick, simple and filling i.e. sandwiches, pastries, etc. Now, these foods aren’t bad for you per se, but when you regularly eat high carb/high fats foods on a daily basis, then this may eventually cause weight gain.
In any case, these stationary work conditions combined with daily stress, anxiety, and pressure – plus the convenience of processed and sugary foods – can all breed bad eating habits.
So what are you to do? How can you escape this path and ensure that staying healthy at work is not a problem?
Well, the truth is, there are hundreds of ways to keep your diet on track and ensure you remain active and eat healthy at work that are easy to implement – no matter how busy you are. Don’t believe us? Take a look at our eating healthy at work ideas.
Healthy work habits to adopt
Deep down we all know that eating better will help to make our bodies healthier, less tired (both physically and emotionally), and more productive. But implementing this practice is often harder than you think, especially when you’re surrounded by a slew of unhealthy snacks…
From the ever-present cake in the staff fridge, to the promise of biscuits and chocolates every time it is someone’s birthday, to the vans that visit office buildings bringing with them naughty treats every afternoon; work can prove to be one of the hardest places to eat well.
Luckily, the following tips make eating healthy at work possible and will provide you with more much variety – and satisfaction – than your average sandwich and salad.
Lifestyle habit changes
Stay hydrated – would you believe that we often mistake thirst for hunger? It’s true. It creates a similar sensation in our gut, often resulting in us reaching for a snack instead of a drink.For this reason, make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day, and where possible stick to water (and avoid sugary drinks).
TIP: The next time you feel hungry, first try drinking a glass of water. If you still feel hungry in 10 minutes then you can assume it is actually hunger. If the sensation disappears, you can feel confident that you are thirsty.
Another thing to note – if you’re on a calorie-controlled diet – is that tea and coffee contain calories in their own right, which will deduct from your daily allowance. As such stick to water as often as possible.
Bring in healthy snacks to work – instead of filling your bag/suitcase with salty snacks, chocolate and crisps; opt for healthier snacks such as crackers (with dip), kale chips, protein bars, fruit (apples, pears, satsumas, grapes, etc.), and vegetables (carrot sticks). Alternatively, you can try your hand at making your own healthy snacks:
- Fruit bars or granola bars
- Hummus and dips
- Homemade gluten-free bread
- Veggie pots
- Roasted chickpeas
- Mix of nuts and seeds
- Baked apple chips
- Dairy-free yoghurt
- Stay hydrated – would you believe that we often mistake thirst for hunger? It’s true. It creates a similar sensation in our gut, often resulting in us reaching for a snack instead of a drink.For this reason, make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day, and where possible stick to water (and avoid sugary drinks).
Another trick is to keep only healthy snacks in your desk drawer. By stockpiling enough to last you each week, you don’t have to worry about bringing in snacks every day.
- Take a walk on your lunch break – you’d be surprised by how much going for a brief walk every hour or a long walk on your lunch break can do for your weight loss. Yet, walking is an incredible way to get your heart pumping, jumpstart your metabolism and workout your entire body (arms, legs and abs).
More importantly, it can help to rejuvenate your mind, ease stress and simply give you a moment to breathe as it is taking you away from the object of your stress e.g. work. In doing so, this can reduce the release of stress hormones such as Cortisol that can elevate your appetite and trigger the desire to snack on sugary goodness.
We suggest doing a combination of brief walks around your office every 1-2 hours, and then a longer walk outside during your break. This will help to change up the view, keep it interesting and make you feel revitalized when you sit back down to work.
PLUS, it will help you to keep the pounds at bay as you’ll snack less and burn more calories – perfect!
Meal prep – if you don’t fancy preparing a meal every night – and who can blame you, it is time consuming – there are steps you can take to simplify the process.
- Plan out your meals for the week – this will make food shopping easier as you’ll know exactly what to grab from the shops during a single shopping session (NOTE: base this shop on you cooking these meals from scratch and remember that there are certain ingredients that you’ll use across multiple meals, so take portions/their weight into account so that you have got enough for all of them.
- Meal prep – if you don’t fancy preparing a meal every night – and who can blame you, it is time consuming – there are steps you can take to simplify the process.
Similarly, by planning out your week you can ensure that you receive enough variety that you don’t become bored – and boredom is something you don’t want as that will feed into your desire to munch on naughty treats.
- Set aside time/a certain day to prep your meals – if you know you’ve got a couple of hours to spare one night, then make it the day that you prep your meals. This will remove the temptation to ‘leave it until later’ and then run out of time to make it, and instead will allow you to get these tasty meals created in one go.
- Be creative – there are all sorts of tasty meals you can make that can easily be stored in your fridge or freezer until you’re ready to eat them e.g. chickpea curries, chunky soups, etc.
Alternatively, if you want to keep things simple you can cook some chicken, fish or tofu, and then pair them with rice and veggies. Not only are these combos good for you, but you can also easily add flavor to them by using different vegetables, sauces/condiments and seasonings across the week. This will stop it from feeling repetitive and boring.
TIP: for a bit of variety, consider swapping out meals for nutritious smoothies. Not only are they filling, they too are easy to prep in advance as you can portion out your smoothies into individual ingredients, so that all you need to do is pop them into a blender when you’re ready to assemble them.
- Cook in bulk – it is possible to make a huge batch that will cater for multiple meals e.g. stews, soups, one-pot meals, casseroles, salads, which you can store in your fridge until you’re ready to take them into work.
- Include plenty of fruit and veg – many experts recommend treating fruits and veg like a rainbow and making sure you eat something from each color group. This will ensure you receive all the essential nutrients that you need, whilst offering you different flavors.
On the plus side, fruit and veg are very filling and often low in calories, allowing you to get full whilst keeping to a calorie-controlled diet.
- Take advantage of leftovers – for instance, if you’ve got leftover cooked chicken from a Sunday roast, save it and add to some risotto, salads and flatbreads. Similarly, if you’ve cooked too much veg, take these leftovers and use them to make a tasty, nutritious soup.
- Get your colleagues involved – now we don’t mean tell them to go on a diet. What we mean is, set up healthy cooking challenges where you each take turns to bake healthy snacks. This will boost morale in the office; give you all more energy (making you all more productive), and will help anyone else who is secretly struggling to resist sugary snacks.
- Consider your food storage options – how often have you prepped something at home only to open it and find it has wilted or has gone soggy? Off-putting right? That is why it is important that you invest in air-tight containers that will help your lunch to stay fresh and look appetizing. We suggest using glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic ones. Alternatively, for soups or stews that you want to keep hot, we recommend getting a thermos.
Another top tip is to use re-usable beeswax wraps to store your sandwiches and homemade granola bars and muffins.
- Start a lunch club – to help alleviate the pressure of having to prep meals for the whole week, we suggest starting a lunch club with other colleagues in your office who are also interested in eating healthy.
By forming a group of 5, you can collaborate on meal ideas and then each take a turn making meals for the entire group i.e. you allocate a day to each person where they make lunch for the whole group. This means you can prep one meal in bulk and know your group have got you covered for the rest of the week. Plus, it allows you to experience different kinds of homemade recipes and flavors for less of the work.
TIPS: make sure everyone in the group has got the same dietary philosophies, so you’ve got a common ground for making meals. For instance, if one person in your group is vegan or vegetarian, then you may find it difficult to agree on meals.
Next, make sure to put these meals in 5 separate containers, as there is no guarantee that you’ll all be able to take a break at the same time. If you can manage to eat together then go for it as this will boost your desire to eat right and feel supported.
- Hide junk food – aside from re-organizing your fridge and prepping meals in advance; it is also a good idea to hide the junk food. This means any chocolate, cookie jars, crisps, etc. need to be hidden and be kept out of view so when you feel hungry you won’t feel tempted to eat them. Instead, make healthy snacks accessible and within easy reach, i.e. keep them at your desk or in the staff fridge (if it needs to kept fresh).
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- Make time to eat – it is hard to feel satisfied when you’re in a rush to eat. Whether this is because you’re trying to munch on your breakfast whilst in traffic or a deadline has left you with only a few minutes to take a lunch break; eat too quickly and you’re likely to snack during the day.
For this reason, make sure you always set aside time to eat your lunch without it feeling rushed. Realistically 10 minutes is more than enough to warm up your food and eat your lunch.
Similarly, by eating slower you will give your body plenty of time to recognize that it is full so that you don’t accidentally overeat.
Eating healthy at work ideas
We’ve discussed a few healthy food ideas in the section above, but if you’re serious about developing healthy work habits, then we have got a few ideas to ensure you continue eating healthy at work.
Healthy eating ideas for work:
Food suggestions – If you really haven’t got the time to spend ages prepping meals, then the following food suggestions will definitely make your life easier:
- Wraps and burritos – spice them up by switching out your meats and adding salmon or tuna to the mix. For burritos, you can vary your veg choices to ensure it never tastes bland or repetitive.
- Bean and veggie salad – it is as simple as it sounds
- Egg/chicken salad
- Homemade sushi
- Mini quiches – instead of making one big quiche, bake your mix in muffin tins so that you can control your portions and make them snack size.
- Work breakfast – from an early age we are subconsciously told that we can only eat certain foods at certain times of the day i.e. cereals, toast, and porridge for breakfast only.
- Food suggestions – If you really haven’t got the time to spend ages prepping meals, then the following food suggestions will definitely make your life easier:
We want you to throw this idea out of the window and consider using breakfast items for your lunch. Easy, quick, nutritious and convenient, you can bring any of the following to work and keep your diet interesting:
- Chia pudding
Ingredients: 1-2 parts chia pudding, 4-6 parts dairy-free milk, 1 part hemp seeds, 1 part dried fruit and 1tsp cinnamon or vanilla.
To make, simply mix all of these ingredients together and leave in your fridge for at least 2 hours (we suggest leaving it overnight). Complete by topping it with fresh fruit or yogurt.
- Apple and Cinnamon Overnight oats
Creates 3 servings and contains 1 cup organic rolled oats; 2 cups hemp milk; 1 large apple (cubed); 3 tbsp. slivered almonds; 3 tbsp. goji berries; 3 tbsp. chia seeds; 3 tbsp. protein powder; ½ tsp maple syrup; ¼ tsp cinnamon and ⅛ tsp ground ginger.
To make, simply mix all of these ingredients together and then spoon into 3 separate glass containers. Store in your fridge overnight and stir when you’re ready to eat.
- Ginger and Turmeric hummus
Ingredients: 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 1/3 cup of tahini, ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves, 1tbsp turmeric powder, 2tsp ginger powder, 2tbsp virgin olive oil, 1tsp salt and 1tsp ground black pepper.
To make, simply place your chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric and ginger into a blender and pulse until smooth. Whilst the motor is still running, pour in the olive oil and add the salt and pepper. Keep in airtight container and store in the fridge. It will last for 4 days. Recipe >>
- Cookie dough protein smoothies (for those with a sweet tooth)
Ingredients: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats, 1 medium frozen banana, 1tbsp cashew butter, 2tbsp hemp seeds, 1tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1tsp pure maple syrup, 1/4tsp vanilla extract,2-4 ice cubes and chocolate shavings (optional).
To make, mix your oats and almond milk together and leave in the fridge to soak for a min. of 2 hours. Place this thickened oat mixture into a blender and add the rest of your ingredients (except the chocolate shavings). Blend on high until smooth, before pouring into a glass and finishing with the shavings (if desired).
Alternatively, you can have these:
- Avocado toast
- Breakfast patties (these can either use meat or be kept vegan)
- Homemade granola bars with fruit
- Dairy-free yogurt parfaits
- Keep it simple – healthy eating doesn’t always have to consist of complex recipes. It is possible to eat right, stick to your diet and not waste ages creating delicious meals.
In fact, there are a number of simple recipes you can try that are perfect for busy days when you simply haven’t got time to prep in advance:
- Pasta with tomato and basil sauce
- Stir-fried veggies with microwaveable rice
- Steamed sweet potato (this can be achieved in the microwave) with hummus and pre-cooked veg.
- Protein rich meals – one of the biggest mistakes people make when dieting is scrapping carbs and protein in a bid to cut calories. Now whilst you may initially lose weight, the loss of these nutrients will impact on your body as 1) it is unhealthy and 2) this kind of dieting is hard to maintain.
The truth is, your body needs a certain amount of calories and nutrients in order to function. Cut them out and your body will suffer – in particular your brain, focus, and concentration.
For this reason, you should tailor your meals to be filled with protein so that you fill up quickly, whilst keeping you calorie count in check. We recommend adding the following protein-rich foods to your meals: beans, pulses, peas, nuts, tofu, turkey, chicken, fish and salmon.
- Add veg to everything – the great thing about veg is that it is nutritious (full of vitamins and fiber) AND low in calories, making them the perfect addition to your diet. Plus they can easily be prepared in advance.
TIP: keep your meals colorful by using veg to help liven it up. We suggest using carrots, tomatoes, red onions, beans and chilies in your pasta, rice and meat dishes.
So is healthy eating at work possible? Yes, it is. Simply plan ahead, prep your food in advance or form a lunch club, and you too can successfully keep to your diet and lose any excess weight.
You can also try adding proven fat burners to your diet such as PhenQ. This simple supplement can easily support your mission of staying healthy at work by Suppressing Your Appetite, elevating your energy levels and bolstering fat burn. In fact, it can act as an assistive tool to your weight loss endeavors, giving you more time to focus on work and tight deadlines.