Counteract office life and sitting at a desk with these health tips
Staying healthy at the office can be a challenge for everyone. There’s always something to tempt you to fall out of your healthy eating routine from Friday cakes, to sweet treats at the coffee machine and Birthday celebrations. That’s before all those beige foods at catered lunches and meetings too.
Staying healthy in the office isn’t easy but it can be done. It's not about perfection, but it's definitely about being prepared.
Here are my best tips to keep you healthy at the office.
This is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. I never skip breakfast. I try to allow at least 12 hours between my evening meal and breakfast the next morning. This allows 8 hours for digestion and 4 hours for elimination of waste and is key to a healthy digestive system.
For me breakfast can often be on the go as I do the school run and whizz off to see a client so a healthy whole foods based smoothie is perfect.
My favourite is a protein based shake with added fruit ad vegies. I use plant based Protein Powder from vegan manufacturer Arbonne (For 30 days worth of protein - £58/ or for Preferred Clients it’s £46.40). It is a high end pure protein derived from peas, rice and cranberries, has over 20 vitamins and minerals and is certified low glycemic as well as being easily digested and absorbed.
Pack a Snack
Be prepared for those midmorning or afternoon munchies. Although a sweet snack to celebrate someone’s birthday may seem like a harmless treat, they don't satisfy your true hunger and are digested quickly, leading to a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows. Take fresh fruit, raw nuts and seeds, kale chips, baby carrots and hummus, a dairy-free coconut yogurt, or homemade energy balls. If you’d rather take a pre-packaged bar take a protein bar that you know will sustain you, like the Arbonne Protein Bar in Chocolate or Fruit flavour (£20/PC £16). With 10 g of protein and 3-4g of fibre and 16 vitamins and minerals these are the creme of the protein bar market.
Keep a water bottle on your desk and keep refilling it (with filtered water) all day. If you want some flavour, put lime, lemon, cucumber slices and mint into your water bottle. The flavour will get better throughout the day.
I love to pack some decaffeinated herbal teas and if I feel like I need something sweet I’ll grab a coconut water or a cold-pressed green juice (ideally with less than 25 grams of sugar).
If I really need a pick me up then I’ll mix up a Fizz Stick (30 days £43/ PC£34.40). These individual sachets are always in my desk drawer and ready for when the 3pm fuzz strikes. They feature essential B vitamins which contribute to normal energy metabolism and pantothenic acid which contributes to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue. Or I’ll grab a green tea which will give me a slow release of energy rather than a coffee which will give me a sudden spike in energy before I come crashing back down.
Don’t forget caffeine dehydrates you, so for every cup of caffeinated coffee or tea, you should have two glasses of water!
Bring your own lunch
Office restaurants often include large portions and high-calorie, high carb choices. You can eat healthier and spend much less money if you prepare your own lunch. And if you’re at a catered lunch avoid beige food where possible, it will generally be fatty, carb based snacks with little or no protein or fibre content. If I know I’m going to be tied to the office for a day I’ll make a shake up before I leave home and keep it with me for lunch. My favourites are raspberry, lime and strawberry cheesecake or spinach, mint and mango. I blitz my fruit with the plant based protein from Arbonne for a Vegan shake which will fill me up and energise me too. Remember, their Protein Powder is plant based, natural and packed full of vitamins too (30 days £58/PC £46.40).
Whenever you start to get sleepy, or are fixating on a sugar treat get up and go for a 5 or 10minute walk outside. Taking a mini-break to get some fresh air will help relieve the stiffness from sitting in front of your computer, will distract you from thoughts of sugar and wake you up. It’s a great time to make calls too if you must.
If you're still tired after the walk, then go for a small cup of green tea.
Walk around the office and stretch every now and then too and take a break every hour or so. Take advantage of every chance you can to get on the move from walking around or stretching while waiting for programs to load or documents to print, to walking over to someone’s desk rather than picking up the phone. If you need to go to another floor in the building, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Stand as much as you can
Standing is much healthier than sitting and yet we all seem to spend hours sitting at our desks each day. Standing is better for your back, and burns more calories. Or, why not switch your chair for an exercise ball. This will work your abs and improve your balance too.
Get a new take on things
Take some time to research restaurants and food places close to the office and perhaps 1 or 2 extra streets away from where you usually go. The extra walk will do you good and you may find some great healthier alternatives to your usual takeout meals and restaurants for lunch with co-workers.
Step out of your comfort zone and try new options too. Opt for protein and veggies and forego the usual carb-heavy options as these can lead to an afternoon slump.
Start getting more involved in the office food ordering. There’s always someone in charge of ordering office snacks and breakfasts/lunches for meetings. Express an interest in getting involved and offer some suggestions for alternatives. There’s usually a decent budget, and swaps within that budget are welcome!
The next time you and your co-workers are ordering food, speak up about where you should order from and the type of things you prefer. If you ditch the Beige food for oxidant rich, colourful, heathy and tasty alternatives you'll be surprised at how easily others jump on board.
Start an office competition
It doesn't have to be about weight and is better if it’s about overall fitness.
Download an app which tracks how many steps you’ve each done on a daily basis and have a competition to see who can do the most. Bring teams together to compete with each other across departments and see if the company will offer a prize.
It doesn’t have to be money to individuals; it could be a donation to a charity of the winning team’s choice. Set goals for the next three or six months, with monthly check-ups for everyone involved.
Getting more active at work may just rub off on people outside work too with new habits, gym memberships and cutting back on sugar and caffeine being part of the plan.
I hope these tips will help you stay healthy and work in the office, counteracting our sedentary lifestyles. If you want to have a chat about what else you can do to stay fit and healthy, please get in touch.