How To Stay Healthy At Work
Like many recent graduates, I have started working full time for the first time. As someone who always aims to go for the healthier option, and who would consider herself quite well versed in eating relatively healthy, I was shocked and appalled at some of the bad food decisions I made in my first few weeks. Thing is, long work days spent at a desk, long commutes and a massive change to your schedule means it’s difficult to adjust – and your health is at risk here.
Although I recently wrote an article about how to manage your time and stay healthy with a busy schedule, I’ve found it hard to practice what I preach. My long commute means I don’t get home until about 7:30 every evening, and then I’m faced with the option: do I cook and have a proper, wholesome dinner, or get in a workout at the gym? Suddenly I found myself ducking into Costa to grab whatever unhealthy carb-loaded cake for the second half of my journey home just because I was so exhausted, not to mention all the boredom snacking whilst I’ve been sitting at my desk.
Luckily, a few weeks in and I’ve managed to come up with a few simple solutions on how to not feel like crap from eating junk food all day at work.
Watch the Caffeinated Beverages!
Substitute whole milk for skim, soya, hazelnut, almond, and try to ditch the sugar!
Most offices will have pantries where you can grab your morning coffee or tea, but for some of us, it won’t even be our first. National rail commuters probably have it worst; all stations are stocked with coffee shops open for even the earliest of us and it’s just so easy to kill some time by getting a caffeine boost. This, however, often means that the cups add up, so try swapping milk for an alternative like soya – whilst Milk isn’t actually that bad for you, it doesn’t have the same nutritional benefits of soya! If you don’t like the taste, try other alternatives – most coffee places, unfortunately, don’t offer hazelnut or almond milk, but they can be found at most supermarkets now, and after a while, you won’t really notice the difference! If you really can’t deal with no sugar with your caffeine, stick to brown – refined white sugar (like white rice and pasta, really,) will make you crash harder.
Hint: If you are, like me, a fan of Chai Tea, I find soya milk actually gives it a nicer, nuttier taste and I much prefer it to normal milk now.
Swap your White Lunch for Wholemeal Lunch
I generally try to live by this rule: if it is an option, go for brown. Go wholemeal, go seeds, whatever. Sure, the taste is different and they’re not necessarily as soft and easy to eat, but the refined alternatives of rice, bread, and pasta are lacking in the same nutrients that keep you fuller longer. These options also release energy slowly so you won’t hit that dreaded 2pm crash, and will sustain you better throughout the day. If you pack your own lunch, make your sandwich with brown bread – there are so many delicious options in all supermarkets and bakeries nowadays!
Substitute your unhealthy cereal and energy bars for… healthy cereal and energy bars
Don’t get me wrong, I live by cereal and energy bars. They’re quick to grab and go, easy to snack on wherever (unless you’re working in a quiet place and are struggling to get the wrapping off…) and are the perfect snack for keeping those cravings at bay. However, be sure to keep an eye on what you’re actually having – just because it’s a cereal or energy bar, doesn’t mean it’s good for you, and it won’t necessarily give you energy. Go for less processed, low sugar options that are high in protein instead – again, you will feel more satisfied and fuller for longer.
Substitute anything for pre-packed fruit!
I love, love fruit, but didn’t bring any in for my whole first week. Why? I tend to go for fruit like mango and pineapple- things that are quite hard to bring in and eat easily! Pre-packed options are available at most major supermarkets, but unfortunately, they’re quite pricey. I’ve found it’s so much easier to cut up and prepare your fruit ahead of time. Pack it all into Tupperware boxes the night before and store it in the fridge – just remember to pack it in the morning so your preparation doesn’t go to waste! Fruit tends to work as a perfect snack because it’s sweet, refreshing and gives you a good energy boost – and you can’t really feel guilty about eating too much!
Hopefully this has given you a few ideas of changes you can make to keep yourself feeling good. The most important thing is to pay attention to your body – when you start feeling sluggish, look at the time and recall what you’ve had so you know what to avoid, and do the same for when you have an energy boost! And don’t forget – moderation is most important, I will never say to cut anything out completely if that’s what you want. White rice is okay once in a while!
What are some of your favourite things to bring in?