A few of my nutrition clients (including my husband) find that their work schedule can get so hectic that they have a hard time making healthy choices throughout the day. They either have no time to eat, or they only have time for something quick at their desk (meaning pizza, muffins, a cereal bar, what have you). What’s more, sitting in a chair for most of the day only makes them more tired and unmotivated.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re trying to lose weight, boost your energy, move more and just feel better during your 9 to 5, consider these tips:
1. Ditch that morning (or afternoon) coffee. I’m serious about this one! Caffeine can induce a temporary high but can cause you to crash hard later on. This can seriously affect your energy, concentration, and overall productivity, and may make you crave more coffee just to keep up. Plus, the amounts of sugar and fat people add to their morning joe is alarming — doesn’t matter if it’s a no-calorie, non-fat, skinny whatever, or if you’re just adding unnatural sweeteners (that’s even worse!).
If it’s part of your routine at work, opt for something else to take its place, like fruit. Drink water instead or eat an orange if you feel you need a boost. And find other ways to keep a pep in your step during the day, like chatting with co-workers!
2. Keep healthy snacks handy. This has actually been very successful for my husband. He keeps hummus, veggies, fruit, nuts, peanut butter, and whole wheat bread at the office. Since he gets to work super early and doesn’t have lunch until around one o’clock, a little snack in between keeps his blood sugar levels stable so that at lunchtime he isn’t ravenous. This helps him control his portions and make better food choices (a healthy sandwich or salad versus a burger and fries). He also eats a little snack at around three or four, when the afternoon slump hits, keeping him energized and satiated until dinner.
For those of you without the luxury of a fridge at work, a little planning goes a long way. Take a snack sized portion of something that won’t go bad (nuts or whole fruits like apples, pears, bananas), but avoid those sugary granola bars.
3. Be mindful of your breakfast and lunch. A lot of people eat breakfast and/or lunch at work, and it’s often something grabbed from a deli, cafe, or, in NYC, a street cart. That’s fine, so long as you’re mindful of what you’re eating. Two fried eggs with bacon on a white roll is not exactly the breakfast of champions! If possible, choose oatmeal and top with berries, or try a veggie omelet, or even a smoothie made with just fruits and veggies (no sugary yogurt). As for lunch, it’s so easy these days to do a quick search of the healthier options in your area. If your cafeteria has a salad bar, take advantage. The best option, of course, is to bring food from home.
4. Drink water! Staying hydrated can keep you energized and can prevent you from thinking you’re hungry when in fact you’re just thirsty.
5. Get up and move. Energy begets energy, so when you feel like you’re about to fall asleep, get up, take a walk, get some sunlight. Not only will your muscles thank you for it, but it will improve circulation, making you a little less tired. More options: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car further in the lot, if you drive. Be fidgety (tap your feet, lift your arms, twiddle your fingers!).
6. Connect with people. I’m not talking about friending someone on Facebook. Social interactions have been shown to reduce stress and promote happiness, so go visit a colleague who sits down the hall or in another department and catch up for a few minutes.
7. Set goals. Another thing that can keep you health-focused at work is setting some goals for yourself. Accomplishing certain tasks and making good-for-you choices promotes satisfaction, which, in turn, can give you motivation to tackle your next goal and make more healthy decisions.
You spend most of your life at work, so it should be a space that you feel good in and one where you’re confident about the choices you make.
Read about Dr. Fuhrman’s eating plan to lose weight and live your healthiest life in The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.