8 tips to Eating Well at the Office
Do you work in the services sector? In an office? At a desk? Do you feel like you once had a body and fitness levels that you were proud of? Life happened, you got a good job and moved up the ranks, met your partner, settled down had kids, got a promotion, worked more hours, became more stressed, another promotion, even more stressed, more money, more problems.
Next thing you know it’s ten years later and that body of your dreams that you once had simply whittled away right before your eyes, you didn’t even see it coming — I feel your pain, shit happens.
It’s not uncommon for the above situation to happen, actually it’s really common and I see it everyday amongst my clients at Optimum Performance. Priorities in life take over and family and work comes first, that’s great and it shows your compassion. But… inevitably you can’t keep going on like this or you won’t be around to be compassionate as long as you would like, or expected. Yeah it’s harsh but it’s the truth, I’m not going to sugar coat it, you’ll probably eat it. But don’t worry, it’s all about making small and simple changes that are going to get you back to the body you once had before the responsibilities of being a law abiding, functional adult came along.
So let’s not make that office job (because let’s face it, most of us work in an office) be an excuse to let your fitness goals slip anymore. So suck it up, tighten that belt and get ready, here are my top tips for eating at the office:
1)Prepare your lunch
Okay so I know it’s not going to be easy, but as they say (or some famous philosopher or maybe it was a Disney character?) nothing easy is ever worth doing and nothing worth doing is ever easy (cheesy). But it does get easier, I promise. Now you don’t have to go and prepare 30 meals of tupperware for the week as if you’re prepping for the Mr. Universe but by simply preparing your own meals (even a sandwich) you’ll know what exactly is going into the food that you’re eating! Getting a tasty Chicken curry or roast dinner is pretty delicious but the aim of the chef is to give you the tastiest food possible, not the healthiest. A simple trick would be to prepare 3 or 4 chicken breasts, some lean meat, veggies and some potatoes and keep them chilled in the fridge for a few days worth of lunches. I like to go by the KISS method (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID). No need for any crazy foods or diets, consistency is key here. You know that woman who lost 15lbs eating the packets of what looks like baby food or something astronauts eat in space? Yeah, I’d take her advice with a pinch of salt, and watch out for her brainwashed multi-level marketing mind too.
2)Avoid the Mid-Morning Calories
You know them All-Butter croissants, yeah so do I, they’re delicious aren’t they? But come on, any pastries that taste like butter or have the word “All-butter” in them are not doing any wonders for your waste-line. Mid-morning things like: muffins, cookies, pasteries and even flapjacks are full of calories and are not going to do much for your hunger but keep eating them and by next quarter you’ll be sporting a similar shape to an All-Butter croissant. Opt for something like a piece of fruit, some pop-corn or a protein bar. These are going to be a lot more filling than all the super tasty baked goods, have a lot less calories and in the long run your body is going to thank you for it.
3)Beware of the BUZZ WORDS
A lot of offices are now bringing in “healthy” options and snacks but most of this is often just, well, marketing crap! Your grandparents didn’t eat “gluten-free”,“organic”, “vegan” or “I won’t hurt your feelings- friendly” or any of that crap but let’s face it, they were probably in better shape that you are. They probably didn’t have a great diet, but they probably moved more and therefore burned more caloreis. A lot of nutrition companies are bringing out snacks that have all these health “BUZZ” words labelled on them but most of the time you’re really just being fooled. Have a look at the label, most of these snacks are overflowing with calories and you’re almost better off having a snickers bar. It doesn’t matter if it says that the ingredients were organically grow by a feminist hippie in California who lives in a tree. Try telling that to your doctor when he says you have pre-diabetes. Look at getting snacks in that are under 200 calories, that’s a good start.
4) Drink plenty of Water
Are you REALLY hungry or are you just thirsty or bored? You should be drinking at least 2–3 litres of water a day and even more if you work out. Most people do not drink enough water and the only fluids that they really get are the 2–3 coffees that they drink throughout the day and maybe a bottle of water with lunch. This is simply not enough. Your stomach is going to be growling at you but what you need is water, not calories! Have a drink of water, then if you’re still hungry have another, after that consider having a small snack, if it still grumbles after that I’d recommend you go to the hospital.
5) Ditch the Coke!
No, I’m not talking about that kind of coke you see in the Wolf of Wall Street, I’m talking about the fizzy drinks you neck back everytime you need to quench your thirst. Drinking fizzy drinks is akin to drinking one of those iso-tonic drinks that ultra marathon runners use TO GET MORE CALORIES. You don’t need more liquid calories to get your ass from the desk to the elevator only to walk a few steps to hot food counter, cut it out.
This is the most simple tip that you can implement. I know there’s a free supply of sugar laden beverages at your finger tips, and I know the queue for the water is long and I know you’re in a rush for your 1PM meeting. But cut the crappy excuses and cut the soda, opt for water or even the “diet” version, don’t worry the artificial sweetners won’t kill you, but excess calories might.
6) Beware of the Salad Bar!
This might sound crazy but you need to be aware of the choices you’re making at the salad bar. Let’s say you’re on a health-kick, whatever that may mean. It’s January 1st and like last year, and the year before that, and the one before that you want to clean up your eating a little. You decided to switch from eating the chicken sandwich and soup everyday to picking some more healthier options at the salad-bar. You start with the romaine, then add some cous-cous, then some slaw, then a few boiled eggs, some vegetables and finally top it off with low-fat (but extremely high-carb- which they forgot to tell you about) dressing. Despite your good intentions to remove that ever increasing tyre around your stomach, you’ve gone from having a 400 calorie soup and sandwich meal to now a 800+ calorie meal. So while it might be full of vitamins, minerals anti-carcinogenic properties you’ve just landed yourself in a position to gain even more weight. Remember, don’t miss the forest for the trees, calories are king. What most people don’t realise is that most health problems that stem from food consumption are due to over-eating food in general and thus becoming over-weight, not becuase you ate one particular food (dare I say, sugar) at some point in your life.
7)Avoid the Slumps
I bet you’ve felt it before, 3PM meeting rolls around, the room is hot, you’re doing your best to peel the eyes open but it’s hard, really hard. Getting this crash is often or not due to having an increased production of serotonin and a reduction in blood-sugar levels. Both of these things happen after you’ve had a calorie dense, carbohydrate dense meal at lunch which jacks up your insulin and then shoots it right back down.
That’s not always the case and some do well off higher carbohydrate meals, but they’re usually lean, active athletes and let’s be frank, if you’re reading this, it’s probably not you. So while I promote having small and filling snacks throughout the day I also advise to couple this with a small but satisfying lunch which isn’t super-high in carbs, so ditch the massive plates of rice if you don’t want your manager yelling at you for not paying attention. No, you cannot use your rice dish at lunch as an excuse for not hitting your targets in the next sales meeting, well, you can try.
The act of moving seats won’t actually help you lose weight, but now that I think of it, if you do it enough you’ll probably burn some extra calories. But by the time this has any significant effect you’ll probably be on your way to see the nurse for a bout of Ritalin to sort out your OCD.
Research has actually show that by keeping snacks and treats out of sight you’re less likely to crave these treats and think about them. So when it someone’s birthday, or someone got a new job, or someone had a baby or it’s a Wednesday and they decide to bring in a cake or chocolates (pretty much everyday), make sure that you’re out of site of the devilish treats. Will power can and does get drained, when it’s 4pm, you’re stressed and your hungry you’re going to go for that black forest that’s been on your mind since 12.
9)Keep an emergency stash
As previously mentioned you’re will power IS going to get tested, especially in a high demanding environment where targets and deadlines need to be met. When you’re ass is on the line and you’ve got to bring in the numbers or you’ll have to figure out a new way to pay the mortgage next month the LAST thing you think about is eating well. STOP, don’t do it, stay away from the vending machine, I know it’s easy but you’ll regret it! Make it a habit of yours to bring in an emergency stash of snacks that you can go to when the tough get’s going. Things such as protein bars, beef jerky, rice cakes, dried fruits, dried nuts (be careful not to over-indulge on these) can be great alternatives to scoffing down a packet of crisps, a can of fanta and a galaxy bar from the vending machine. I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t bring any perishable goods, they won’t make your co-workers too happy when a rancid smell of god knows what seeps out of your locker.
I know it’s not easy trying to have your ideal body and holding down an office job, the temptation is there and is always going to be there. As a nation, fitness awareness seems to be at an all time high, but we’re still getting fatter every year. It’s simple, you make the choices. Where you are now is a direct result of the compounding choices you’ve made over the years. But don’t look at this negatively, you can also start to make the right choices today. So you decide, make the choice to start making health conscious decisions… or don’t. I hope this article can help in some small way and remember, if any of the tips above are implemented it’s a step in the right direction.
It may not be your fault that you’re in the situation that you’re in right now, but it’s your responsibility to deal with it.