Fostering healthy habits at the office

Fostering healthy habits at work

For those of us who are not lucky enough to work outside and have to spend most of waking hours at work, healthy eating at the office is an urgent question. We are seating for at least 8 hours, being in stress daily is a normal condition for the majority and as an addition to it – we even lack time to cook at home or even to eat away from the office desk. Sure enough it’s not the best outcome for a healthy lifestyle. While there are plenty of issues we can meet at work, let’s focus on certain points of the daily office life.

The most common “mistakes” of eating at work are:

  • Eating at the office desk;
  • Junk break snacks;
  • Choosing unhealthy food when eating out.

Deadlines force us to cut lunch breaks in the first place. Although, there are some reasons which more likely will make you to stop to enjoy your meal at the office desk. “The desk, in terms of bacteria, is 400 times more dirty than your toilet,” says Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. First three dirtiest places go to the phone, the desktop and the mouse. Now imagine, while you’re eating you answer the calls, check e-mails and touch the surface…clearly, you better find a new place to eat. The other reason to avoid desk-dining is that while you fully concentrate on work, you pay no attention to what and how much you eat. Unconscious eating is a big problem and too often leads to obesity. The brain needs some time to understand that your stomach is full but when you decide to be a multitasking person, your brain is just too busy with other stuff. The result: constant overeating and obesity. According to statistics (and sometimes strong social stereotypes) overweight and obese people are less productive at work and earn 15 percent less than their healthy-weight colleagues. Obviously, you need to have lunch away from your desk as often as possible and disinfect your desk with special wipes.

Stress makes us crave junk food. It’s known that brain is dependent on sugar, but we forget sometimes that sweets are not the only source of glucose. It’s also hard to resist when you’re passing a vending machine filled with your favourite chips or crackers. The healthy and non less delicious replacements are:

  • Walnuts – high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants;
  • Apples –  eating an apple mid-day helps control blood sugar and may aid in weight loss;
  • Carrots and hummus – this low-calorie combo is packed with beta-carotene, fiber, and healthy fat;
  • Oranges and Almonds – one large orange with an ounce of raw almonds, which are loaded with fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fat;
  • Low-Fat Cottage Cheese and Pineapple – this pair is high in protein, calcium and can improve digestion;
  • Pear and Cheese – this combo rich in calcium, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

And by the way there are healthy vending machines which suggest organic and healthy snacks.

Even if you got break and went out for lunch there is still a risk to get a heavy, expensive and oversized portion of unhealthy food, just because you don’t have any other options.

So, what is the best solution for it? Cooking at home and bringing your own lunch will give you an incredible amount of choices, save your money and help you to stay healthy. It’s also a nice way to cope with stress. And bringing leftovers of your healthy dinner for lunch will save your time and resources.
Another great option is to cook at the office and have a meal together with your colleagues. It’s not only about providing you with healthy lunch but also bringing colleagues together and making an office more social. It’s clearly not the solution for big companies, but if you are a small team, try this out and the benefits will be not long in coming! Get to know your colleagues better, share (or improve) your cooking skills and favourite recipes and just talk to each other!

Diana Podgurskaia


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