Life Health & Wellbeing

Friday 18 October 2019

Week 3: Simple food changes to ensure you eat healthily at work

How to work well

It's important to drink sufficient amounts of water. Photo: Manuel faba
It's important to drink sufficient amounts of water. Photo: Manuel faba
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

Work is such a huge component of our day that any little improvement you can make in the office to improve your health can only be a good thing. So far we have looked at your commute to work and your desk - those easy swaps will do a huge amount to transform your workday. Now let's take a look at the simple food swaps you can do to improve your food intake in the workplace.

1. Measure your water

Water is crucial for your workday health. When you are dehydrated, if effects your motivation, concentration, energy and your mood. Two to three litres a day is the recommended amount you should be drinking and my office tip is to measure your water intake using a large water bottle instead of a glass. You will always forget the amount of glasses you've had, but one large water bottle is much easier to track.

2. Love the herbal teas

Tea and coffee are great in moderation, but we know that we tend to drink too much of both, so make the simple switch to some herbal teas instead. Aim for two cups of tea or coffee max and then go for the herbal option.

3. Stay brown

One of the simplest tips I give my clients to get through the workday as healthily as possible is to stick to brown carbohydrates such as brown bread, brown wraps, brown pasta and brown rice. These tend to be less refined and higher in nutritional value than their white counterparts - not always, but certainly most of the time, so just make that basic colour switch.

4. Watch those snacks

We all know the classic snack times during the day: 11am and 3pm. That's the case for probably every office around the country and there's nothing wrong with it at all. Eating every two to three hours is a good thing, but it's what you are snacking on that makes all of the difference. Fruit is obviously a winner, just remember to give it a wash first and aim to eat the skins as much as possible - no more than two to three per day. Nuts are another really easy work option, just aim for ones that aren't covered in anything and keep your portion size to a palmful.

5. Record it

If you are really struggling with eating in the workplace, then why not write it down in a food diary? Tracking your meals makes a huge difference as you will often be surprised at what you eat. It's also a great tool to bring to a dietician or personal trainer if you are working with someone to reach certain targets.

6. Ditch the fizzy drinks

For some lucky people, fizzy drinks just don't do it at all. But for so many people, they do. My recommendation here is to have as few as possible. Each can contains nine to 11 spoons of sugar. Energy drinks are often even worse and diet drinks typically just replace the sweetener with something else - it's not actually healthier for you. If your intake is high then gradually wean yourself off them and replace with flavoured water (flavoured with fruit not cordials etc) and then on to plain water over time. One fizzy drink a week isn't a problem, but one a day is a different story.

7. Eat breakfast

I know I mentioned this in the very first column in this series but it really is important for so many reasons - the main one being that you will generally eat healthier if you have had breakfast in the morning at some stage, either in or out of the office. Just find what works for you and aim to ensure you eat something before work to keep yourself on track during the day.

8. Work together

You can guarantee that someone else in your office is trying to get fit, so why not work together to keep each other healthy? Teamwork makes things so much easier and you'll be far more likely to stay healthier for longer.

Irish Independent

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