With the gradual return to the office after working remotely from home during the Covid pandemic, mindful eating habits at the office can prove to be of great benefit to your health and to your waistline. After working from home for an extended period and perhaps gaining a bit of weight from snacking, the office presents an entirely new reality regarding eating.
Mindful eating is not the same as dieting. Too often, people diet only to lose weight and then regain it and possibly add on some extra pounds. Mindful eating will not come with menus or diet plans. It simply focuses on how you are eating.
Tips for Mindful Eating at the Office
Mindful eating at the office can increase your productivity and consequently improve your mood. Healthy snacks and adequate hydration can make all the difference during a long, sedentary, and potentially stressful day at the office. Once upon a time, most people worked the land, but thanks to technological leaps and bounds, transportation and electronics and machines have caused us to be sedentary.
Combine a lack of physical activity with unhealthy eating, and we have a recipe for serious illness that can lead to an early demise. But inactivity and poor eating habits also influence energy at work and concentration, producing irritability and impatience, which in turn leads to frustration. Unfortunately, the workday does not always allow for exercise or adequate lunch breaks when days and commutes are long. Even the Harvard Business review has weighed in on how food affects productivity. So, what’s an employee to do?
Mindful eating can make a difference in energy levels, cognitive function, mental health, and your immune system which in turn can reduce the risks of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes as well as overall stress on the job. Follow these office tips for mindful eating while at your desk.
1. Learn about Nutrition
Learning the nutritional value of snacks and drinks is a first step toward mindful eating. There are many myths concerning foods and how much sugar they may contain. Nutritional information can aid in making healthy choices such as substituting protein for refined sugars and keeping cholesterol at bay.
2. Create a Healthy Eating Routine
Creating an eating routine can really make a difference. If one plans meals and snacks, you will be less inclined to grab cookies, or a piece of cake on the run. This also helps in making your choices before hunger strikes so you are prepared with a healthy snack or meal. Plan simple meals or purchase healthy snacks that you can take to work with you, so you aren’t running to the vending machine for a candy bar.
3. Never Skip Your Meal
How often you eat is just as important as what you eat. If you go too long without eating, glucose levels will drop which will affect concentration at work. If you do not eat at lunch, you may overeat unhealthy snacks or overeat at dinner. Skipping meals negatively impacts:
- Weight gain
And it’s not enough to not skip lunch, make sure not to skip breakfast as well. By eating a healthy breakfast, your body will be stimulated to burn more calories during the course of the day as well as contrast stress cortisol levels that tend to be higher in the morning. Avoid filling up on sugar at breakfast, opting instead for protein.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, and Hydrate
Not drinking enough water at work can lead to dehydration which can affect mood and cognitive functions. Water is the key. Avoid sugary drinks and caffeine that contribute to dehydration and hyperglycemia. Alcohol is another impediment to hydration, so if you are out for a business lunch avoid cocktails and wines if you plan on returning to the office to get some work done. After hours drinking will also dehydrate and may negatively impact sleep, so you get less done the day after as well.
5. Enjoy a Healthy Lunch
Eating a healthy lunch, however brief, is important. You’ll need to plan a nutritionally balanced lunch with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and sugars. This can prove to be challenging especially if you eat at your desk in a hurry. Lunches high in carbohydrates will provide immediate energy but will also end in a slump. High-fat meals provide energy for longer but require more work by the digestive system. Fruits and vegetables offer important nutrients and large salads can be filling. Plan your work lunch ahead of time, and if possible, bring it from home. Avoid eating at your desk where distraction can lead to overeating.
6. Snack Healthy
Many of us attempt to cut out snacking to avoid weight gain, but healthy snacking can help keep up energy levels throughout the day. Hunger is distracting and the quickest way to end up at the vending machine where we select sugary or salty foods. Select healthy, protein snacks in advance and bring them with you to the office.
7. Be Mindful When Eating
Pay attention to what you eat. Mindful eating means you will be committed 100% to always opting for a healthy meal. Make conscious decisions about the food you choose and don’t cheat. Don’t eat when you are overly hungry as this can result in overeating. Opt for smaller portions of food more often if necessary. If you find this very challenging, try the 80/20 alternative: 80% healthy choices, and the occasional 20% naughty treat. Look for healthy desserts that are designed with protein needs in mind. In the end, you’ll find balance and be happier and more productive.
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