Staying healthy at the office is a challenge for most of us. Even if we have a healthy routine at home, this routine can often get thrown out of whack once we get to the office. No matter the day of the week, there is always someone who brings sweet treats and the catered lunch meetings are usually filled with unhealthy junk food and cookies.
I’d like to argue that staying healthy at work has less to do with willpower (well, maybe a little) but more with being prepared and learning to identify any triggers that make you crave unhealthy foods.
Here are some of my best tips to stay healthy at the office:
1.Bring your favourite healthy snacks.
This one is a no brainer. If you don’t have healthy snacks with you, you are so much more likely to run to the vending machine or accept cookies from your colleagues. The trick with bringing your own snacks is to make sure you actually ENJOY them and will eat them; otherwise they will just collect dust in your desk drawer.
My go-to snacks are carrot and cucumber sticks, hummus, rice crackers, dark chocolate, protein bliss balls, almonds and I also always have some kombucha in the fridge. I also have a huge selection of organic teas for different occasions, such as a digestive tea for after lunch or a women’s wellness tea for that time of the month.
2. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is key to keeping focused and not letting your hunger get the best of you. So many of us confuse thirst for hunger, and that’s where the unhealthy food choices often come in. How much you should drink depends on your exercise level, but my recommendation is to get a big reusable glass water bottle that you refill at least a couple of times a day. Positive side effect: you will have to go to the bathroom more often, which means more incidental exercise!
3. Bring your own lunch
This tip really can really make or break your office health routine (unless your office is surrounded by all the best healthy restaurants and cafés - in that case, lucky you!). I know that a lot of people struggle with this tip, and truthfully, this one takes the most preparation and dedication. My suggestion is to get into the habit of meal prepping on a Sunday, which means setting approximately two hours aside to prepare all your meals for the week. It might sound like a hassle, but trust me, it’s worth your while if you’re serious about keeping up your health routine at work.
4. Notice when something or someone is triggering you
All the above tips are useless if you don’t actually want to eat healthy at work. Too often, something happens during the day that triggers us and BAM suddenly all we crave is something sweet to distract us from our frustrations, sound familiar?
To combat emotional/stress eating at work, we have to first identify what’s causing the negative emotion. Is it something your boss said? Or are you nervous about a presentation? Whatever it is, get clear on what’s causing you the distress, otherwise no amount of raw, activated almonds in your desk drawer will stop you from snacking on the unhealthy stuff.
My personal fave’s are a quick walk around the block, a quick meditation (in the bathroom, worst case) or even just a couple of deep breaths in the kitchen while no one is watching. Which brings me to my next point…
Meditate! If you can manage to squeeze in a short meditation during your workday, then I take my hat off to you! It’s long been known that meditation can enhance productivity levels, so we really shouldn’t feel guilty for incorporating this into our day. I admit that I’m not the best at following this advice myself, but when I do, even just for 3 minutes, it makes all the difference.
Unsure how to meditate at work? Download the app One Giant Mind or Headspace on your phone, grab some headphones and find a quiet space to get started.
6. Walk while taking your calls
Squeezing in a workout during lunch might not be realistic, but that doesn’t mean there’s no other ways to get in a little bit of exercise during the day.
One of the easiest ways you can increase your steps is to walk and talk. If you are going to make a call you don’t need your screen for, take it outside and walk around the block or park. Other simple tricks are to take the stairs instead of the elevator and to convince a colleague to do a brainstorm walking session with you.
7. Create your own little alternative medicine pharmacy in your drawer
Got a migraine? I’ve got an essential oil for that. On your period? I have a wheat pack for you. Lunch didn’t sit well with you? Let’s try some organic mint tea first. Whatever ailment you might be experiencing in the office, there are ways to try and naturally beat it before reaching for painkillers and other meds. I used to see people popping aspirin and paracetamol like it’s candy in my office all the time, and while there certainly is a time and place for that, I prefer trying to use alternative ways first.
Again, the trick with this is being prepared. In my desk drawer you can find a whole range of different essential oils, teas, heat packs and natural creams - I am prepared for anything!
Stefanie Jung is a holistic health and wellness coach with a focus on helping women heal their relationship with food and their body. After having struggled with an eating disorder when she was younger, she is deeply passionate about teaching women to embrace and accept themselves unconditionally. Stefanie is also a 200h certified yoga teacher, an advocate of wholesome eating and an eco-conscious warrior.