Eating well at work with little time breaks can be difficult. The presence of tempting, unhealthy food around you, limited cooking facilities for making healthy lunches, and the need to grab something quick at lunchtime can lead to eating more calories than you need.
Poor nutrition harms our work performance by reducing concentration and energy levels and causing frustration and impatience. According to one study, employees who participated in a wellness program that included nutritional programs were more productive — "roughly equivalent to an additional productive work day per month for the average worker."
We all know we should "eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly," but it's easier said than done when you work nine-hour days with no time for lunch, a two-hour commute, and home life to fit into 16 waking hours.
According to The Harvard Business Review's article What You Eat Affects Your Productivity, "we need an action plan that makes healthy eating easier to achieve."
In this article, we’ll provide you with a wealth of practical advice on how to improve your eating well at work, including small but significant changes in habits and an introduction to mindful eating.
How Can I Eat Well While Working?
It's critical to stay fueled, energetic, and focused during the workday so you can produce quality work – and there are plenty of ways to do so with our tips, ideas, and recipes to support you in eating well at work.
1. Weekly Meal Planning
We can't emphasize this enough: meal prepping is critical to staying on track with your health goals, rather than gorging on three slices of cake at an office birthday party because you didn't eat lunch. Meal planning takes a few hours at the start of the week, but it pays off because you'll have plenty of food to eat and will spend less time cooking or prepping food during the week.
There are several ways to meal prep for a week of eating well at work. You can:
- Cook separate elements (a pot of grains, a tray of mixed roasted vegetables, a vegan protein, an animal protein) and combine them with your favorite condiments or sauces throughout the week. You'll love recipe-free meal bowls once you get the hang of them – and they're easy to transport to work.
- If you don't like leftovers, simply wash and prep your produce at the start of the week. Then you can easily prepare meals and snacks the night before work.
2. Make Healthy Snacks
Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand. Having them will help you stay full throughout the day, and you can even make a packed lunch or snacks if you want. Some of our favorite snacks for eating well at work include:
- Dips or spreads for vegetables or crackers
- Gluten-free bread
- Muffins can be either sweet or savory.
- Granola cereal or granola bars
- Bites of energy
- A combination of nuts and seeds
- Dairy-free yogurt
3. Keep a Water Bottle Nearby
Dehydration can cause headaches and fatigue, which are detrimental to productivity. Keeping water near your workstation will also support the eating well at work. It is essential to stay hydrated, but you should try to do so by drinking water rather than sugary or caffeinated drinks, which can cause dehydration and sleep disruption.
So, keeping the water bottle will remind you to drink and support your eating well at work. You can also monitor your intake throughout the day.
4. Keep Candy Bowl out of Your Sight
You may not realize it, but a few daily snacks can quickly add extra calories. According to one study, people ate 2.2 more candies daily when they were within sight rather than stored away.
5. Avoid too much Caffeine
It may appear that having endless cups of coffee is a great idea but proceed with caution regarding caffeine. Too much is known to cause headaches, anxiety, digestive problems, and even fatigue – none of which are good in any situation, but especially not when you're trying to work. Limit yourself to two cups of coffee daily to avoid jitters, and avoid flavored creamers and other high-calorie add-ins!
6. Team up with Your Coworker or Friend
Developing a healthy eating habit can be complicated even if you are determined. A support network of like-minded family, friends, or coworkers is highly beneficial. Collaborate with someone at work who is also interested in eating well or willing to try it. Eating is a communal activity that allows for interaction and sharing. Having a meal with someone who shares your interest in healthy foods can help you stay motivated.
7. Mindful Eating
Mindfulness entails paying attention to the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindful eating entails paying close attention to your food as it is purchased, prepared, served, and consumed.
Benefits of Eating a Well-balanced Diet
Poor nutrition hurts our performance at work by reducing concentration and energy levels and causing irritability, frustration, and impatience.
It will assist you in understanding good, balanced nutrition and will provide advice on optimizing your diet at work to benefit from its effects. Some benefits of eating a well-balanced diet:
- Increase Your Energy Level
- Reduce the Risk of Chronic Illness
- Slow the Effects of Aging
- Improve Your Mental Health and Wellbeing
- Enhance Your Mental Focus
You'll notice small, subtle changes as you transition to a healthier diet: you'll have more energy, your mood will stabilize, and you won't feel lethargic or nauseous after lunch. Eating healthy, like everything else, necessitates moderation. Begin by making minor changes to your eating habits. Eating healthy will no longer feel like a chore but a natural part of your life.