To help you improve your workplace nutrition, Fruit at Work’s resident nutritionist, Stephanie Stephenson has provided her top 10 tips to help you reign in your workplace diet.
1. Homemade trumps store-bought
A homemade lunch is always preferable since you’ll know exactly what you’re putting in it. If your mornings are usually rushed, put five or six salad items in a bag to take to work. Add some protein in the form of a small can of tuna, a boiled egg or some chicken/lamb/beef from last night’s dinner. Take five minutes to chop up and make a healthy, high protein salad once in the office.
2. Protein is your friend
Avoid too much starch at lunchtime (pasta, rice, thick bread, noodles) as these foods can elevate your blood sugar initially, causing the mid-afternoon slump later on that sends you straight to the biscuit jar! Protein slows the release of sugar from your meal into the blood stream, helping to maintain an even blood sugar level which reduces cravings. Fewer cravings means you’ll be less tempted to choose a high sugar snack.
We know you’re busy in the morning, but bear in mind, people who don’t eat breakfast tend to choose unhealthy snacks for morning tea and/or overeat at lunchtime. If you’re in a rush, blend some protein powder with a banana and some skim milk and drink it on the bus! Or if you’re buying breakfast from your nearest café, a simple egg wrap with tomato is a good option or some wholegrain toast with a nut spread.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s shut eye. If you’re skimping on sleep and feeling tired at work, you’ll keep reaching for food as a source of energy even though you may not actually be hungry.
5. Be prepared
If you know you’re likely to be staying back at work, don’t wait until 7pm when you’re starving to think about dinner. Once hunger strikes, you’re far more likely to grab the nearest high-fat delivery menu or order a pizza for convenience. Plan for a long day at work by ducking out in the afternoon to buy your dinner. Pop it in the fridge and you’ll be ready once your body is hankering for the evening meal.
6. Do not be lead into temptation
If you’re easily tempted by junk food – don’t buy it! Sure we can convince ourselves that the packet of lollies or block of chocolate we’re buying will only be for emergencies. But realistically – will it even last the day? The best way to cut down on sugary foods is not to buy them and to keep healthy snacks within arm’s reach instead. Grab a piece of fruit or keep some raw nuts at your desk to nibble on in between meals.
7. Drinks count
Make no mistake about it – drinks count towards your daily caloric intake. Sugary soft drinks are an obvious nono and even fruit juice can be misleading – providing you all the calories from fruit without any of the fibre that will keep you fuller for longer. If you’re thirsty, drink water. It’s calorie free and doesn’t cost you a cent from the tap.
8. How skinny is your latte?
Speaking of drinks, how many coffees are you having a day? The average full cream Latte/Capuccino/Flat White contains 224 calories – not including the sugar you may be adding. Try to limit your coffees to no more than a day and always go for the skim option, which has 75 percent less calories than its full cream counterpart.
9. Meeting meltdown
If you’re going into a meeting where you know unhealthy snacks will be on the table, BYO snacks! Grab an apple or a box of nuts so you can join in the snacking without being tempted.
10. An oldie but a goodie
We all know that we’re supposed to eat slowly and consciously. But how many of us slam down our lunch while staring at a screen, paying absolutely no attention to what we’re eating? Try to take 10 minutes (even at your desk) to concentrate on nothing but what you’re eating. When we rush our food, the receptors that register when we’re full can’t get the message to the brain fast enough. By the time the message gets through – oops, you’ve overeaten and feel bloated and uncomfortable.