Eating habits play an important role in our overall health and wellbeing. Like most professionals, solicitors have busy work schedules. You can either be stuck buried under a mountain of paperwork at your desk for the majority of the day, or you are running from client meetings to court session. For many of us, this hectic schedule can leave little to no time for proper meals, which can then have a negative impact on our nutrition as it’s difficult to practice healthy eating habits.
Of course, when there’s the temptation of vending machines, fast food restaurants and quick sugar fixes, it can be a real challenge to maintain a healthy diet. However, with a little planning and effort, you can make some changes to ensure that you are eating healthy which at work. In this article, we are going to share some ways you can adopt some healthy eating habits in your office.
What are the benefits of healthy eating at work?
We are all aware that bad eating habits has a negative impact on your overall health, but it can also affect your performance in work, such as your concentration and energy levels.
Healthy food delivers energy in a more sustained way over a longer period of time, instead of the inevitable high and crash that comes with a sugar boost. When your energy levels in the office are boosted, you become more productive.
Leading a healthy lifestyle leads to an improved immune system, which gives you a fighting chance to avoid those pesky colds and coughs going around during flu season. The less sickness going around the office results in reduced levels of sick leave.
Finally, having a healthy and balanced diet leads to having better concentration levels as well as improving your brain’s cognitive function.
Here are some Healthy Eating Habits for you to try
Plan your meals in advance
One of best ways to maintain a healthy diet in the office is to plan your meals and snacks in advance. And this is something that you can start at home – if you plan your meals at home for the week, you can see which meals are suitable to bring in to work the next day as your lunch. By bringing your own food to work, it’s easier to resist the temptation to indulge in more unhealthy treats.
Try to choose a balanced lunch, which should include protein, healthy fats and whole grains. Here is a great resource with lots of healthy lunch ideas for the workplace. For snacks, nuts, dried and fresh fruit, and yogurt are good options to keep you going in between your meals.
Don’t skip breakfast
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it kickstarts your metabolism, as well as providing you with the energy you need to be productive and focused at work. It’s essential that you start the day out right with a healthy and nutritious breakfast, even if it means setting that alarm 15 mins earlier!
Missing breakfast can also lead to overeating later on in the day which can sabotage all your healthy eating efforts. Once again, balance is the key word so make sure you’re including protein, healthy fats and whole grains. Some really good examples of healthy breakfast options include oatmeal, eggs and Greek yogurt.
Hydrate with water, not sugary drinks
When we are feeling a bit of dip in our energy levels as we run from one meeting to the next, reaching for a bottle of our favourite sugary drink might seem like the best solution. However, these drinks are loaded with sugar and calories that may give you a quick burst energy but they shouldn’t be a replacement for good old H2O. Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining good healthy and keeps us hydrated, aids digestion and helps to flush out toxins from our bodies.
According to the Irish Heart Foundation, it is recommended that women should drink 1.6 litres of water a day, while men should consume 2 litres a day.
So when you feel thirsty, choose water as your primary beverage. And you should also remember that while tea and coffee are a staple of every solicitor’s diet, they are not an alternative to water. Bring a reusable water bottle (your handy Solicitors Growth bottle if you attended our Summit!) to your office and you can fill it throughout the day. A bonus tip – if you find water too bland, you could try infusing it with fruits or herbs for added flavour.
Avoid eating at your desk.
We understand the pressures of being a solicitor can mean you’re often multi-tasking by eating your lunch at your desk and fitting in some work at the same time. There’s no doubt that eating at your desk can certainly be convenient however it can have a negative impact on your health.
When you have your lunch at your desk, not only are you likely to over eat, but it can also lead to poor digestion. From a mental health point of view, it’s really important to take a proper break from your work and take a walk outside or have with your colleagues. By doing this, you’re more likely to return to your desk feeling energised, less stressed and ready to tackle the afternoon in more productive frame of mind.
Choose whole foods over processed foods
When you are doing your weekly food shop, it’s always good practice to choose natural, unprocessed foods where possible. Unprocessed foods can provide your body with the nutrients it needs in a purer form. Processed foods, on the other hand, are jam packed with preservatives, artificial flavours and other unhealthy ingredients.
So, at work, it can certainly be more challenging to find whole food options but this is where bringing in your own food from home comes in. When you’ve prepared the food at home, you can choose to use whole foods. However, when you’re buying packaged food on the go from a shops, you have no idea how processed the ingredients are. So if you’re lucky to have a fridge in the canteen at work, bring in your own whole food options from home such as salads or homemade soups.
Practice mindful eating
Mindfulness means to focus on the present moment, taking in your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Mindful Eating is being completely aware of your food, from how you buy, prepare, serve and consume meals. So how do you practice mindful eating in the workplace?
Well first up, you take note of your hunger cues and take your lunch break before you become over starved which results in your over eating.
Secondly, taking enough time out of your schedule to really enjoy your lunch break, eating slowly and pausing between mouthfuls. This will allow you to tune into what you’re eating and forget about the stresses of your work.
Finally, eat until you are comfortably full. Remember it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so eating slowly can help you to avoid overeating and returning to your desk feeling lethargic and bloated.
Choose sensible snacks
While we are led to believe that snacking is a bad habit, choosing the right type of snacks can actually help you balance your energy levels throughout the day. Those hunger pains can be a real distraction while at work which increases the temptation to resort to a quick treat from the vending machine in our work canteen. Healthy snacking is good way to boost your mood, energy and productivity levels so let’s look at some examples of healthy snacks.
– Fruit and vegetables such as carrots, peppers, celery and green beans.
– Nuts and seeds mixed with dried fruits such as apricots or prunes.
– Good sources of protein – hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt and non-processed cheese
As we mentioned before, preparation and planning is key, so spend some time preparing your snacks before coming to work.
Take little steps towards healthy eating habits
As Martin Luther King once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” So, even taking on board one of the tips we have given you in this article, will have positive health benefits for you.
Adopting healthy eating habits can help you manage the stressful elements of the everyday role of a solicitor. But if managing stress in the workplace is something you’d like to know more about, we have two fantastic resources for you.
You can check out one of our previous articles, called Stress Management for Solicitors for tips on helping you to actively manage your stress levels in your work.
Another resource is our webinar Emotional Resilience and Positive Mental Health for Solicitors. On this webinar, we are joined by the incredible Jen Martin, Psychological Coach, who gives us a masterclass on how to build resilience, reduce stress and learn to live our best lives. You can watch this webinar and many more on replay here.
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