How To Eat Healthy While Working From Home
For many, working from home presents the constant temptation to snack, especially amidst the added stresses of quarantine. Making healthy choices is especially hard if you haven’t worked from home before, as your rhythm and environment have completely changed. It’s hard not to turn to chips and candies and develop unhealthy habits; however, eating healthfully at home doesn’t require that much work, and reaps significant rewards, from keeping your body and immune system strong, to boosting productivity, to helping maintain a clear head and strong mental health. Below, EAT SMARTER has put together our top tips and tools to help you eating healthy while working from home.
Set Yourself Up For Success
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that you’re more apt to eat unhealthy foods if you have unhealthy foods around you, and vice versa. And yet many people who are trying to eat healthy still keep chips, candy and other unhealthy foods around them, relying on their willpower to make good eating choices throughout the day. While some can pull this off, we suggest not trusting your willpower. In simple terms: don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure the pantry and refrigerator in your kitchen and home office if you have one are filled with the right kinds of foods to ensure a healthy day:
Fruit & Vegetables
Keep your kitchen full of fresh fruit and vegetables, which make a great snacking substitute to high-sugar and high-carb snacks like ships or candies. Make sure you’re purchasing fruits and vegetables that you truly love to eat, however, not just those you think you should. If you don’t like apples and this is the only fruit in your kitchen, it will be hard not to miss the chips you’re accustomed to! If you love blueberries, however, looking forward to them as a snack will decrease your pangs for junk snacks. Don’t like vegetables? Feel free to dip them in a healthful dip like hummus or guacamole to make them more palatable.
Protein, whether derived from meats or vegetables, keeps you alert, energized, and full throughout the day, helping to boost your productivity at work and take your mind off unhealthy snacking. Protein can come from a variety of sources, including any meat (fish, poultry, red meat, etc.) or dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), nuts, seeds, and even some grains like quinoa, which is the only perfect protein that’s not an animal by-product.
Nuts, chickpeas, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs are all great sources of protein to snack on throughout the day. Meats, of course, generally take a little longer to prepare. We suggest meal prepping your meats, as many would do for a week of lunches at the office. Making a big batch of roasted chicken or grilled steak the Sunday before your week is a great way to quickly make versatile dishes throughout the day, and will keep you from having to take time from your work at home during the day to cook.
Carbs might get a bad rap, but the right ones play an integral role in maintaining a healthy diet. Buckwheat, wholemeal rice, couscous, and quinoa are all carbs that provide plenty of energy, are high in fiber and can keep very long in the pantry.
Good fats are extremely important when it comes to brain health and concentration, and should play an important role in your work from home diet. Nuts and avocados are packed with healthy fats and make a great snack, as do flaxseed and chia seeds, which can be tossed into breakfast foods like yogurt or smoothies. Certain fish like salmon are also a great source of health fat, as are certain cooking oils like olive oil.
Structure is Everything
One of the biggest issues facing those working from home is the temptation to graze; with a more lax schedule and your kitchen right around the corner containing all your favorite foods, it’s easier than ever to just snack throughout the day instead of eating actual meals like you would during a normal work day at the office. However with a little effort and planning, setting a healthy eating routine is easy.
Set A Schedule And Stick To It
Setting specific times for your meals will help get you into a more normal routine, increasing productivity during your work day, helping you to clock out at night, and ultimately helping to nourish your body. Take some time to plan specific blocks of time you will take to eat breakfast and lunch during the day, as well as a couple 5-10 minute coffee breaks. This will help you stay in work mode while working and keep you from snacking, while turning off and enjoying your meal while your eating. If you can, eat your breakfast and lunch and take your breaks in a different place then where you are working. Dinner can be a bit more flexible, as it is during normal workdays at the office.
Important to building a good eating structure is buying the right ingredients. Without the correct foods, a well-structured day can quickly end up an unhealthy one. Now more than ever, it’s important to make shopping list before you head to the store. Not only will this get you in and out of the grocery store quicker and ensure you don’t have to make another trip sooner than necessary, but a list will also keep you from impulse purchases, which tend to be unhealthy far more than they are healthy.
Meal Prep, Meal Prep, Meal Prep
If you haven’t meal prepped before, it’s more than time to get on the train! Meal prep has become an integral practice for many office workers, where you make big batches of ingredients on Sundays, pack them in individual containers, and then just assemble each day for lunch. This is an especially good option if you’re working from home, as you won’t have to take valuable time out of your lunch hour to assemble your meal. Working from home, you might also have access to cooking tools like frying pans, frothers, etc., which you might not have at your office, and with which you can quickly amplify your lunch.
Snack The Right Way
As much as it might sound like we’re vilifying it, we are huge fans of snacking! Snacks are important to keep you energized and full between meals, so you don’t gorge when you eat, and a great option to pack in more essential nutrients. Just make sure you’re snacking smartly. This means skipping the chips, white breads, candies and other snacks that are high in carbs and sugar but not much else. Instead opt for filling, fresh foods like vegetables and hummus, apples with almond butter, a handful of nuts and dark chocolate or a bowl of walnuts and blueberries. These kinds of snacks are packed with satiating fiber, minerals and protein, providing not just a great flavor but plenty of nutrients to help your body running its best.
Whenever you switch up your daily routine, it’s easy to lose some of your healthy habits, like ensuring you drink enough water. However staying hydrated ensures your break maintains peak performance, and helps boost concentration and energy.
All you have to do is remember the number 8: drink an 8 oz. glass of water 8 times a day, and you’ve reached the recommended daily water intake.
If you don’t love the taste of water, jazzing it up is a great way to help get in your daily water allowance. A few slices of lemon, lime and cucumber instantly transforms a plain glass of water into a luxurious spa beverage, while adding negligible calories.
Knowledge to go
With the right prep, eating healthy while working from home is easy. As with any routine change, just remember to set yourself up for success beforehand; you’re much more likely to fail if you’re constantly having to police yourself. Make a shopping list of fresh, nutrient-rich foods before you head to the grocery store and stick to it. Throw out the chips and candies in your pantry and replace them with fresh foods you like, such as berries, nuts and whole grain crackers. Meal prep on Sunday some of your favorite healthy dishes and set aside specific blocks of time throughout the day where you can shut off your computer for a few moments and enjoy some warm food to yourself.