We often hear from our clients that prioritizing their health during the workday is one of the hardest challenges. Jobs can be stressful, have erratic schedules, be night shifts, or be in locations with a lack of options for healthy food. Between constant emails, meetings, tasks, and little time for yourself, it can seem impossible to eat well. Often people will drink multiple cups of coffee, skip meals, have energy drinks, or go for whatever they have nearby just to keep their energy up.
This cycle doesn’t treat the body or mind well for optimal health in all parts of our lives. In fact, when you pay more attention to your eating habits and stress relief during your workday, you can have a host of benefits from less bloating and digestive issues, higher energy levels, more productivity and focus, less sick days, to potentially lower risk for diabetes and heart disease.
The good news is that you don’t have to change your schedule or job to gain these benefits. Through making small changes you can incorporate healthy food habits that can help you prioritize your diet and stress levels.
Our 5 Tips for Your Work Week:
1. Don’t Skip Meals—Especially Breakfast Do you go to work without having eaten breakfast? Maybe you’re not hungry so you only have coffee in the morning and by the time you’re at work its 11am and you’re starving. At that point you’ll go for anything in sight that is quick and curbs the hunger.
Working professionals often skip breakfast due to issues of time or wanting to lose weight. Breakfast is a critical way to start your day as it provides you fuel for sustained energy. When you skip breakfast you’re more likely to have low energy, sugar carvings, poor focus, and a tendency to overeat the rest of your day.
When we skip meals and we don’t listen to our natural hunger, we are likely to binge on food, snacks, and sugary treats. Skipping meals doesn’t help people lose weight and it can even do the opposite! Eating right as you start to get hungry can help you choose healthier options.
2. Eat Enough and Have Healthy Snacks Available Do you show up for lunch or dinner feeling extremely hungry with a sense of urgency? It’s likely that you have waited too long between meals or your meals weren’t enough food to keep you satisfied. People often say they eat well during the day, but then they get home from work and overeat with a feeling of no willpower. Along the same lines of not skipping meals, is making sure you have eaten enough throughout the day. When you don’t eat enough the feeling of “lack of willpower” is your body taking control and eating (even too much) to feel nourished.
Office snacks tend to not be very healthy with vending machine options or cookies from celebrations. Having healthy snacks will help prevent reaching for these. Ayurveda recommends mostly eating fruit as snacks. Apples, bananas, blueberries, plums, etc. can all be great ways to keep satisfied without adding a ton of processed foods to your diet. A handful of almonds and other nuts will also provide you with great fuel.
3. Meal Prep and Make Lunch Your Main Focus Ideally, you’d be able to have a freshly made meal for lunch. However, for most people that isn’t the case. If you don’t have access to healthy meals at work or want to cut down on spending money, bringing a lunch can be one of the best options. Try to meal prep only 1-2 days in advanced for each meal, as they lose prana (life force energy) and become bad for your digestion. Meal prepping can help you pick healthier options by you getting to choose what ingredients you put in your meals. It can seem daunting and time consuming to some, but you can start small with leftovers from your dinner the night before or a warm canteen of homemade soup.
In Ayurveda, lunch should be your biggest meal and should be eaten with intention. Often people work through their lunch break. Having a lunch break is important to not only have time to eat, but also to give yourself time to nourish and recharge. By eating at your desk or writing emails when you eat, you are missing an opportunity to decompress and focus on fueling your body.
Try to step away from your desk and not multi-task when eating, as this can compromise digestion. Work on focusing your intention on the food. Consider taking a few breaths with long exhales before you start eating to shift your nervous system out of the sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze) mode and into the parasympathetic (rest/digest) mode. Breathing deeply will enable your body to be able to digest your food more effectively.
4. Have a Reusable Water Bottle If you have a water bottle at your desk or with you between meetings, you can stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s better to have little sips throughout the day than guzzling water down twice a day. Many people are dehydrated, which can lead to headaches, fatigue, constipation, and low energy. Having a water bottle by your side will help you drink more water.
Another pro-tip is to sip on warm water throughout the day. This will help aid your body in detoxifying any build up of ama (toxins).
5. Commit to Cooking At Least 2 to 3 Nights Per Week At the end of the day it can be hard to muster up the energy to not only cook dinner, but also to get the ingredients you’ll need for it. We suggest taking 10 minutes on your weekend to think about a few meals that you would like to make in the week and add those ingredients to your grocery list. It’s easier to cook meals after work if you already have all the ingredients you need for them. You’ll be more likely to have a variety of foods in your diet and not eat out as much. It will save you time and money!