With high calorie snacks hovering around every corner, sometimes it feels like a successful day in the office can be measured by whether you make it through the day without eating some type of unhealthy snack, from chips and biscuits to the frequent birthday cakes.
But given you spend most of your time at work, looking after your health in the workplace is crucial.
A great place to start is with a balanced lunch, and it just takes a few good habits to get you eating better meals at work.
1. Bring your lunch from home
This is the number one rule. Eating out almost always ends up with you buying something you shouldn’t out of pure temptation, and probably spending more than you should! It’s much cheaper and healthier to bring some deliciously home-cooked meals, with ingredients you’ve picked yourself. It doesn’t have to be a premium meal; think sandwiches, easy salads with brown rice or quinoa, and rice paper rolls or wraps.
2. Have healthy snacks on hand
Putting time and effort into bringing a healthy lunch will get you nowhere if you’re still sneakily having some nutella on toast from the kitchen. While a good lunch is a good start, you probably eat (or think about food) throughout the day, not just at lunch time. To keep those cravings at bay, it’s a good idea to bring healthy snacks. Think almonds, walnuts (rich in antioxidants), fruit (apples make for a great mid-morning snack that helps control your blood sugar), greek yoghurt, green tea (instead of coffee), oatmeal and berries, or homemade granola bars.
3. Cook enough food for leftovers
You don’t always get home with the motivation to cook a whole meal for the next day, so why not make more of whatever you cook on the weekend? Leftovers make great lunches during the week, not to mention the money and time they’ll save you. Take some time on Sunday to prepare meals for the week. If you do cook dinner every night, think about preparing an extra portion for the next day.
4. Have a meal plan
Having a meal plan is a good way to take the stress out of cooking and be more efficient with your time and resources. It’s also an easy way to better manage your finances and avoid budget blowouts. Take a look around cooking blogs for some meal plan inspiration and healthy recipes.
5. Keep a little pantry under your desk
If you have drawers underneath your desk, use one as a mini pantry. Stock it up with tuna cans for emergencies, olive oil and balsamic for salad dressings, salt, pepper, some spices, couscous (which can easily be cooked with a bit of boiling water), snack bars, dried fruit, canned veggies, rice crackers, green tea, granola, cinnamon, nuts and anything else that takes your fancy. This way, if you absolutely didn’t have time to think ahead, you’ll always have a “plan B” within reach, keeping you away from eating out.
If your workplace has a fridge, you can do the same thing. Maybe keep some hummus, almond milk, fresh veggies or fruit available.
6. It’s all about a balanced lunch
Last but not least – it’s about quality and variety. Keep trying new things while also eating a healthy combination of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, whole grains, dairy and proteins. If you just focus on carbohydrates but not protein, then you’re going to feel full, but not for long. The trick is to get all the nutrients you can and feel energised for a longer period of time to boost productivity.
Some ideas for a more balanced lunch are:
- add avocado to a sandwich
- add spinach to your salads (spinach is high in iron and magnesium)
- snack on either chopped carrots, celery or red capsicum with hummus prior to lunch
- have a small portion of greek yoghurt with some fruit to satisfy sweet cravings after lunch
Writing your grocery list? Learn more about 12 foods you should be eating.
Little changes go a long way
While staying away from high sugar snacks, and daily coffee breaks and lunches with colleagues can be really hard, the routine of an office job makes it easier for you to prepare your meals in advance and avoid temptations. It’s all about healthier snacks, a hearty but balanced lunch, and having a meal plan that you can prepare over the weekend.