I work in an office like many of you, and I understand the challenges of eating healthy or dieting, especially when meetings come up or you have presentations.
I have a friend who has colleagues bring in cake and sugary pastries for ANY occasion. Last week, somebody brought in a cake to celebrate that it’s finally consistently warm out. No joke!!
Recognizing the challenges of being at a desk for the majority of the day, my guidelines will help you to better manage these lifestyle challenges of office eating so that you can sustain your energy levels, work smarter and get more out of your day.
This is THE #1 thing you can do. It is worth your time to have your lunch and snacks prepared ahead of time and brought into the office so that you’re not tempted to buy something you know you shouldn’t. You may have the best of intentions to buy a salad, but you know damn well that often than that, you’re going to join in on the greasy spoon your team is buying that day, or opt for the free pizza in the cafeteria.
What to do:
- Decide what you’re going to have for lunch this week, and cook your food in bulk on Sundays. It might take up to 2hrs, but the time investment is well worth it if you have a habit of sneaking in cookies, the morning pastries, fries
- Have snacks on hand!!! Bring more food than you think you need. Great snack options include tuna, boiled eggs, veggies, fruits, dips, rice cakes or crackers, protein powder, a good mix of perishable and non-perishable foods. If you have a communal fridge, USE IT MISSY!!
- Caffeine pills. Seriously. It gives you a quick hit of alertness which comes in handy when you’re in a collaborative/brainstorming meeting, or when you have a glaring deadline. Nobody likes coffee breath, and nobody likes lateness.
VENDING MACHINES, OFFICE TROLLEYS AND TUCK SHOPS
Most of the foods on offer are high in fat, sodium and/or sugar, and virtually devoid of fibre and vitamins. But you know that already.
What to do:
- Before grabbing a snack, consider whether you rather need a break from what you’re doing. Going for a short walk or getting a breath of fresh air may be all you need to feel re-energized.
- Fill a tall glass of water and walk around to socialize with your peers until it’s done. Fill ‘err up again before going back to your desk.
- Have snacks available so you don’t get too hungry and tempted to eat something you know you don’t really want to anyway.
Although tea, coffee and cocoa contain beneficial flavonoids and other antioxidants, caffeine is one hell of a drug that oftentimes leads you to vicious energy cycles. I love my coffee, but there are times when I gotta take a step back (especially all you meatheads who take 3 scoops of preworkout in the evening–I know you’re out there!!!!).
What to do:
- Go to the gym for a run or a circuit!! This will get your blood flow going, and give you energy to power through the rest of the afternoon.
- If you cannot go to the gym, go for a brisk walk.
- Consider these beverages a treat!
- Slowly decrease the amount of sugar and cream you put in it. If it must be sweetened, try using xylitol or stevia drops. They come flavored which will really make your java feel like a treat.
- Dare I say….drink decaf?
- Try hot water with a slice of lemon, orange or fresh ginger in it. Herbal teas also count as water.
Ohhh the muffins and donuts at meetings…I love them but the problem is that it can limit productivity and creativity for the rest of the day. How sharp do you feel a couple hours after a muffin with 4 tablespoons of sugar?
Let’s save those as treats pre- or post-workout.
What to do:
- Be proactive and volunteer to either bring snacks for the team or source out other catering outlets that provide delicious and smart snack platters.
- Suggested snack platter items to your usual caterer: cucumber strips, cherry tomatoes, hummus, celery sticks, berries, boiled eggs, chicken strips, grapes, snap peas, baby corn, pineapple, sweet peppers, smoked salmon, etc.
- Have a snack before, during, and/or between back-to-back meetings. Keep your own healthy snacks stashed in your drawers.
- Bring your water bottle or a tall glass of water to the meeting. Tea works great too.
- Have a snack before the meeting so that you’re not tempted.
- If there are four or fewer of you who need to have a meeting, consider going for a walk while addressing the issues at hand. This helps to reduce unhealthy snacking and, as an excellent bonus, it spurs creativity.
This is a tricky one. Time zone changes one top of the usually work stresses really make this a tough challenge, I’ve been there. Whether you spend a lot of time in a car or hotels, or fly across time zones, travelling disrupts your usual eating routine while messing with your circadian rhythm.
What to do:
- Really pay attention to your hunger cues. Just because it is dinner time on the plane doesn’t mean you should eat it if you’ve already eaten two hours prior. Ask for tea or ice water instead.
- Should you wish to have a meal before boarding a plane, choose a salad-based meal with a small protein serving.
- Carry portable snacks with you. Great choices include dry quick oats, bars, tuna, protein powder, superfood powder, etc.
- Drink LOTS of water!!! Flying dehydrates you, resulting in headaches and jet lag. Have a couple large bottles on you prior to boarding, and ask for water when the refreshment tray comes around.
Because you’re sitting around all day, it’s easy to get into a slump. If your office culture allows it, get a group together and implement some ideas that help keep everybody mindful and keep up their energy.
Ideas to try:
- 30-day challenges: situps, pushsups, burpees, planks, etc. You can pick one or a few exercises to focus on, and pick a new one each month.
- The first person to be able to do 10 ab wheel roll-outs gets a coffee bought for them by everyone else who participated and lost.
- Salad club: bring in any leftovers from dinner that you likely won’t use, and combine them to make an assorted salad! It’s a nice break away from the desk and you get to build camaraderie among this circle.
- In a sales environment: the last person to book a client meeting must do burpees for 1 minute.
- Hour of Power: go for a run around the neighbourhood with a few teammates.
- At 5pm, blast some music and have a dance-off!!
I’m fortunate to work in a very open and fun office culture, so I have implemented most of the above and they worked well. If only I could get approval for a siesta!
What have worked for you in the past? I want to know – comment below.
Yours in Strength,