You might think that working from home could make healthy eating a lot easier.
You have a fully stocked kitchen to whip up a healthy lunch and you can chop up some fruit and veg for a snack any time.
While some people have taken advantage of those things, others have found that working from home has thrown their healthy eating routines out the window.
If you’re looking down the barrel of more work-from-home days, here are some easy tips to keep you on track with snacking in the home office.
Plan for the Munchies
This principle is true whether you’re working at home or in the office. We rarely give much thought to snacks and then when 10am or 3pm roll around, both our bellies and our brains are prompting us to get something to eat or drink. If you notice that you start opening the pantry at a particular time of the day, the best thing you can do is plan for it. Pick 2-3 snacks for the week, the same way you might plan dinner or lunches. Not sure what to plan, check out some great recipes on our sister site The Healthy Eating Hub.
Pack a Lunch
The same way you might pack a few snacks and a lunch for your workday in the office, there is nothing wrong with packing a lunch for your home working self. How often do we say to ourselves ‘I have a pantry right there, I can make something healthy whenever I want’ and then we don’t. I think this is because there are too many steps involved. In that lunch or snack break, we’re asking ourselves to:
- Decide what we feel like
- Decide if it’s healthy
- Get all the stuff out
- Make it
- Eat it
- And clean up
- (and if you’re me, also put on a load of washing and give the dog some attention)
It’s just too much, so our brain lessens the decision-making load and picks whatever we can eat quickly.
So do your future working–self a favour and have your snack/lunch ready to go.
Keep the House Well Stocked
It’s a well known phenomenon that we are more likely to pick items in a supermarket that are stocked at eye-level. ‘Eye level is buying level’ so to speak. So, why not apply the same principles in your own home and create a healthy snack station in your pantry or fridge. Put some zip lock bags or boxes of nuts in a basket. Chop up your fruit and store it in a clear container in the centre of your fridge. Put together some baby cucumbers with individual packets of dip so they’re ready to go.
And while you’re at it, why not arrange it all to look nice. Check out Healthy Snack Station on Pinterest… as if you wouldn’t want to snack from that?
Make it Less Convenient
You know those treats that you might buy in a big packet for the kids or for lunch boxes? Things like packets of chips or biscuits which work well as a packed treat when you’re heading to the office. The very same treats you may find difficult to resist when they are sitting in the pantry calling your name. Put in place extra barriers to grabbing these. Put them in a non-transparent container on a high shelf or in the very bottom of the pantry. You could even store them in the freezer, where you’re less likely to go browsing for snacks between video meetings.
Have a Buffer Activity
Sometimes we head to the kitchen not because we’re hungry but because we just smashed out an epic report, finished a difficult email or we’re getting ready for a tough conversation. What we’re looking for is not actually food. It’s a transition. So why not come up with a quick activity that gets you off your computer, breaks up the day and keeps you out of the kitchen.
- Do a lap of the house
- Work on a puzzle in another room
- Play some tug of war with the dog/give your cat a cuddle
- Step outside for a few minutes
- Do a quick chore (putting 2 items of laundry away)
Have a Bottle with You
Whenever I am working from home, I often think ‘Oh it’s so easy to fill up a glass, I don’t need to worry about having my drink bottle with me’. I think wrong. If my drink bottle isn’t directly in front of me all day, I rarely get through more than 1 glass.
Separate eating from working
You may presume that it’s more efficient to multitask and eat while you’re working but when we do this, it’s easy to forget that you actually ate something. We get to the end of the sandwich or snack and might find ourselves looking for more. This isn’t always because we’re still hungry, it’s because we didn’t register the food going in, because we weren’t paying attention. So, make it a rule to step away from your desk while you’re eating. I promise it won’t lower your productivity.
Take a Lunch Break
In the same vein, make sure you’re taking a proper lunch break at home. A break in the middle of the day isn’t just about having something to eat. It’s a chance to give you and your brain time to refresh and reinvigorate, so you can smash out the rest of the day. Don’t struggle through to COB. Get outside and get some vitamin D, eat slowly and think about something other than your work for a while.
Get the Blood Pumping
When we take a break from the office and go for a coffee, the benefit isn’t necessarily from the coffee, but from the act of getting up and moving around. This gets the blood moving in our body and can also help to re-energise your brain. It can also distract us from the impulse to have another snack. So, when you feel yourself walking to the kitchen, PIVOT, and head out the door and around the block or into the lounge room to do some jumping jacks. It sounds dorky but it helps.
Treat Yourself (non-food)
All of the first 9 tips are exercises in planning and awareness, both of which require mental energy. Let’s face it, we only have so much mental energy. So, for any of these tips to happen consistently we have to find ways to boost our mental energy. And one way to give yourself more energy is to use (non-food) treats. When we give something to ourselves, we’re often able to ask more from ourselves. So, as you finish reading this little article, give yourself 5 minutes to think about what would feel like an energising treat in your day or your week. (Mine is to walk alone with a podcast or audio book)
If you’d like help with your nutrition then don’t hesitate to get in touch and find out how we can help you