Do you find it challenging to prioritize your health during your workday? Between meetings, constant emails, and never-ending tasks, it may seem like there is no time to take care of yourself. If you find yourself skipping meals, drinking multiple cups of coffee per day, or hitting the candy drawer several times a day, it’s time to make a shift.
Some of the main benefits you can experience by paying more attention to your eating habits during your workday include:
- More focus and productivity during the day
- Increased energy levels
- Less bloating
- Less sick days from work
- Decreased risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease
The good news is that you don’t have to change your whole schedule to make healthy food choices. Here are seven tips to help infuse healthy eating habits throughout your busy work day:
1. Eat Breakfast Before You Start Working
Do you show up to work without having eaten breakfast? Maybe you start the day with coffee, get to the office, start looking through your emails, and before you know it, it’s 10 a.m. and you are starving.
This story is all too common among working professionals. Eating breakfast is critical to set you up for a successful day. By skipping a healthy breakfast, you are setting yourself up for low energy, decreased focus, sugar cravings, and overeating throughout the day. Once you sit down at your desk, it’s a lot harder to peal yourself away from emails and projects.
Some quick grab-and-go breakfast options are:
- Overnight oats with chopped nuts and cinnamon
- Egg and vegetable muffins with one serving of fruit
- Protein smoothie
2. Have Some Healthy Snacks Stashed in Your Desk Drawer
If you show up to lunch or dinner feeling a deep sense of hunger and urgency, it’s likely that you waited too long to eat in between meals. Many people complain about overeating at dinner or having no ‘willpower’ around food. The truth is that they might not be eating enough throughout the day to nourish their body.
If you think about most of the snacks that are provided at offices, they usually consist of vending machine options (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.) or leftovers from a celebration (cookies, donuts, cupcakes, etc.). Or maybe you even venture over to your coworker’s desk to see what they have in their secret candy drawer.
If you bring some healthy snacks to work and stash them in your drawer, it will help your satisfy your hunger and avoid sweet temptations in the office.
Some easy snacks to stash in your desk:
- Packets of raw almonds (I like the ‘just a handful’ from Trader Joes)
- Bag of apples
- RX bars (or any other high-quality protein bar)
- Plantain chips
- Jillz Crackers or Mary’s Gone Crackers
3. Step Away from Your Desk for Lunch
Many people work through their lunch break because they are scared of missing important emails or because they want to leave the office early. If this is familiar to you, it’s time to stop the craziness! You deserve a lunch break. You need a lunch break. You have time for a lunch break. By eating at your desk or skipping lunch, you are missing a golden window to nourish your body. Eating consistently throughout the day will help with your focus and your energy.
If you aren’t taking any lunch break right now, start with a 10-minute break and work your way up to a 15- to 20-minute lunch break. Consider taking 3 to 5 breaths before you start eating to shift your nervous system out of sympathetic (fight or flight) mode and into parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode so that you can digest your food more effectively.
4. Keep a Reusable Water Bottle or Cup at Your Desk
If you have a water bottle nearby, you are more likely to stay hydrated throughout the day. Set reminders on your calendar to stand up and refill your water bottle. Not only will this help you to stay more hydrated, but it will also help to prevent sitting for long periods of time.
5. Look Up Healthy Restaurants Around Your Office
If you are used to going to the same restaurants over and over again for lunch, do a local search on Yelp or Google to find some healthier options. It’s hard to make healthy choices when there aren’t a lot of healthy options at the restaurant that you choose. If you do have some favorite restaurants in the area for lunch, consider looking at the menu again and trying to upgrade your order to a healthier option.
6. Commit to Cooking 2 to 3 Nights per Week or Hire a Meal Delivery Service
At the end of a busy workday, it’s really challenging to muster up the brainpower to think about what to cook for dinner. Take 10 to 15 minutes on the weekend to think about two or three meals that you would like to make for the week, and add the ingredient list to your grocery list. If you have the ingredients in your fridge and you know what you want to make, you will be more likely to eat a home-cooked meal instead of grabbing dinner from a restaurant on your way home. This will help to save you time and money.
If cooking is totally out of your wheelhouse or you just can’t make time for it, do some research for local food delivery services that use fresh and organic ingredients. If you don’t mind cooking, but you don’t like meal planning or grocery shopping, there are plenty of services that can do that for you (Sun Basket, Hello Fresh, etc.)
7. Bring Leftovers from Dinner for Lunch to Work
Whenever you cook dinner at home, make sure to double the recipe so that you have enough for leftovers. After you finish eating dinner, you can package up the leftovers in a glass Tupperware so that you don’t have any additional prep time in the morning.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t like leftovers or who gets bored from eating the same meal twice in a row, you can simply make a different variation of the meal you made for dinner. For example, if you make a stir-fry for dinner, keep some of the chicken aside to add on top of a salad the next day. Or if you make tacos for dinner, you can use the same toppings to make a burrito bowl for lunch the next day.
Start by choosing one or two of the strategies listed above and build them into your day. Once you feel comfortable with these habit changes, you can add more. It’s better to take a step-by-step approach that you can realistically maintain, rather than making too many changes at one time.
Looking for more ways to squeeze some nourishment into your busy day? Learn how to use one of the best tools you have—your breath—to feel less stressed anytime, anywhere with Breathwork, our self-paced online course. Learn More.