Did remote work alter your eating habits? For some, being close to their kitchen meant giving in to temptation and diet-busting snacks. One study showed that over 42% of participants reported eating more in 2020. Worse lockdown-related stress and boredom caused almost 30% to report gaining weight. Yet some discovered that being remote from not just work but vending machines and cookie-carrying colleagues improved their diet. Plenty of people gave up fast food in favor of healthier, home cooked meals.
It doesn’t matter which camp you fall into. Every one of us is guilty of the occasional poor food choice. Still, if you’re a regular victim of morning jitters and afternoon crashes, and are wondering what to eat at work, healthy options abound. Here’s a few ideas.
Start the Day Right
Breakfast is suddenly controversial. The notion of an early a.m. feast being the most important meal of the day was unsurprisingly started by cereal manufacturers. Numerous studies demonstrate that abstaining from food for 12-16 hours can “can lead to improvements in health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders.” The challenge is when your blood sugar is “on empty.
When your glucose, or “blood sugar” levels plunge it reduces your brain’s ability to handle complicated tasks. Self awareness is key. If your intermittent fasting program is working, I’m not suggesting you ditch it for a bowl of cornflakes. It’s just whether your first meal is just after dawn or noon, make sure it includes some healthy protein. I’m a big believer in steel cut oatmeal –– which has the sort of complex carbs that keep your blood sugar even. Its high levels of B vitamins are great for concentration; if you add blueberries you’re adding flavonoids which help protect our brain cells from stress. A dash of whey protein and you have the perfect first meal. Eggs are a great choice as well. Generally speaking smoothies and fruit juices are less than ideal because they flood your system with sugar.
Fruits and Veggies
Not all grazers are created equal. There’s nothing wrong with snacking –– so long as you choose fruits and veggies. Many of us don’t get the recommended five servings daily of fruits and vegetables –- and no, french fries don’t count. A recent study supports the government recommended quantity. As researcher Dong Wang explains, “People who eat five servings of vegetables and fruit daily have 13 percent lower risk of all-cause death compared to people who eat two servings of fruit and vegetables per day.”
If you want to know what to eat at work, healthy snacks include go-to carrot sticks and apples. I love avocados. Loaded with mono-saturated fats, they not only keep your glucose level stable but help improve work flow by improving cognitive function.
Since the best way to have a great day at work is getting a good night’s sleep, a banana with peanut butter is a perfect before bedtime snack. The banana is full of potassium and magnesium –– which help your muscles relax. Nut butters have an amino acid called tryptophan which encourages restful sleep. Just opt for PB without hydrogenated oil or added sugar and salt.
Ditch the Simple Carbs
Maybe you like keto. Perhaps paleo is more your speed. No matter what diet you’re working (if any) one truth remains. Refined sugars and flour along with simple starches should not be making a regular appearance in your diet. So many lunchtime options are bread based –– and eating bread at noon in a great way to need a nap at four. That’s because sugary foods and breads motivate your body to release extra insulin. This floods your brain with serotonin and tryptophan –– which is what makes us tired.I’m not against napping, but not when it’s connected to your diet. The worst culprits are foods with a high glycemic index like white bread and white pasta. They get digested quickly which spikes your blood sugar just as fast.
Whether you’re remote for the foreseeable future or returning to the office, get prepared. Stock up on healthy snacks. Make your meals in advance. Toting lunch to work or making meals at home will do more than save you money. It can even save your life.