How To Eat a Healthy Meal at Work
The days of the mass exodus from the office to take an hour off for lunch is truly something of the past. We are hard-wired, now, to try to keep productivity constant in the workplace. That may be in a conventional office space to which we travel, or to a desk located a stone’s throw from our bedroom. It has become so easy to get plugged into business that we neglect the manner in which we make food choices during working hours. Eating for real and sustainable energy has become inconsequential as we dash to complete the tasks on our endless to-do list. Why do we fail to hit the refresh button, on ourselves, on-the-clock? This is in sharp contrast to vigilant efforts to save the computer word document under our noses.
Eating healthy at your desk is in reality a simple task and habit-forming. The act of thoughtful consideration selecting what you eat while you work, carries performance-enhancing benefits. These may include increased mental sharpness, elevated mood and easier digestion.
When the body gets fresh whole foods, particularly of the plant-based variety, it feels the energetic effects quickly. Heavy, greasy fast food on the other hand, is packed with hard to digest fat leaving the body with an energy deficit. This accounts for feeling sleepy after an indulgent meal and those irrepressible cravings for caffeine or sugar that appear around 3:30pm.
Use these tips for eating healthy al desko and become a force for change in your own cubicle:
· Plan ahead. Eat the way you want to feel.
For light, flexible energy, start the day with a bowl of fiber-rich cooked whole grains such as oatmeal with nut butter (single ingredient varieties including just nuts are ideal) and fresh seasonal fruit. Toast up a slice of 100% sprouted bread (which gets digested easily, like a vegetable, instead of a starch.) Spread it with brain-boosting healthy fats (nut or seed butters or ripe avocado.) Prepare a smoothie, freeze it overnight and bring it to work for an afternoon reboot.
Ordering in for lunch? Get brown rice sushi instead of traditional white rice. Bring healthy leftovers to work and relive the comfort of a meal you just enjoyed off the clock. Hide from co-workers so they cannot drool on what you crave.
· Step away from the desk before you eat. Shift the energy and ‘vibration’ of your activity by stepping away for a few minutes. Go wash your hands, stretch your legs, engage a co-worker or heat the leftovers and disconnect from desk activity both mentally and physically. This will refresh your internal hard drive.
In the throes of a stressful workday the body inevitably releases cortisol, a stress hormone which is inflammatory. When you step out of the pressure-cooker, the body has a chance to re-calibrate and the cortisol dumping subsides. Also, hanging out by an open window or stepping outside briefly for some fresh air clears the head and makes you more alert.
· Make eating at your desk a singular task. Avoid eating while answering email or texting lengthy messages. In the midst of controlled office chaos, try to create a sacred space for a meal at your desk. Taste your food and relish the opportunity to just eat. Conscious eating allows you to register fullness and relax from all of the busy-ness. A body that’s nourished and nurtured has a lot more to give you than a body that is dragged around by a bossy mind.
· Eat real food and lots of ‘plants’. The more fresh, living and nutrient dense food you bring to the table (your desk that is), the more it will provide the life force within to propel you into serious action at work.
· Limit coffee and sugary foods on-the-clock. It’s a slippery slope with caffeine and the sweet stuff. Choosing to limit these offenders will prevent fueling future cravings. Instead, bring a thermos of iced tea or the best apple you can get your hands on.
· Step away from the vending machine. It usually has food in it that has no life and ingredients which will steal your thunder. Anything you bring from home is a thousand times better. Bring snacks in little containers that fit neatly into your briefcase, bag or gym bag. Gym bag — yes! Bring trail mix, crackers (the hearty, whole grain, fiber-rich sort), hummus, veggies and snacks with only recognizable ingredients. Do not leave home without your reusable. Keep filling it! Commit to ongoing hydration.
· Take small steps to eat healthier at your desk. If you buy take-out most of the week, commit to brown-bagging it from home a couple days a week. Be sure to take notice of how differently the day goes for you in terms of stamina and overall performance based on your healthier choices.
Tomorrow brings another opportunity to dine al desko.
Bring your A-game. The boss will love you for it.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.