Maintaining healthful eating habits when your “office” is steps from the refrigerator and pantry can certainly be challenging.
Sure, there are some food-related perks that make working from home better: not having to remember to pack lunch, for one – and being able to enjoy breakfast because you aren’t having to run out the door is a good one, too! However, being so close to your favorite foods can be hazardous for your productivity and your health.
So how can you best navigate a world where you’re constantly surrounded (and tempted) by food? Below are some strategies to support healthy eating habits when working from home.
If your kitchen table is also your desk, you’ll likely spend more time opening your fridge than opening emails. If possible, designate an area in your home away from the kitchen that is specifically for getting work done. Be sure your workspace is quiet so you can focus.
Keep a meal schedule.
Stick to a routine and make time for breakfast, lunch and a mid-afternoon pick me up. Set aside 30 minutes for each meal and 15 minutes for a snack. Skipping meals can slow your metabolism and potentially lead to overeating at your next meal, which could decrease your energy levels.
Leave junk food out of the equation.
If it’s there, chances are you will eat it. To avoid devouring an entire bag of chips during a work conference call, just don’t buy them – or don’t buy a full-size bag, at least. Turning to comfort foods like cake and chips can be tempting after a difficult work presentation or meeting, but be mindful of why you’re eating or what purpose the food is serving, to help prevent the start of a bad habit. (And remember, “comfort food” doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy food! Check out these healthy comfort food recipe ideas for inspiration.)
Separate meal and work time.
You may have dined “al desko” daily when you were back in the office, but now is the perfect time to start a new, healthier habit by choosing another place to eat during the day. Watch the sun rise in the morning while clutching a mug of your favorite coffee or tea, and eat lunch at your kitchen table while listening to your favorite tunes. Removing stressful distractions (like incoming emails) while eating can increase meal satisfaction – and we need any little boost of satisfaction we can get these days!
Have healthy options available.
Knowing when and how to meal prep is key to having healthy foods available – but it’s not as daunting as it sounds! Pick a day and time to wash, chop and portion out a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables for the week. Have convenient, pre-portioned snacks ready to go, such as yogurt, fruit or nut bars, cheese sticks, nuts or popcorn. Avoid mindlessly eating anything “straight from the bag,” even if it’s something healthy, because calories can still add up.
Get up regularly.
This tip isn’t specifically about eating, but it’s crucial to overall health. Block off times to stand up, stretch or even take your dog on a quick, 15-minute walk. Being sedentary all day is not good for our body, as it contributes to weight gain and may increase an individual’s risk for chronic disease. Taking small breaks is good for the mind, body and soul. Try setting a timer to remind yourself to get up and out for some fresh air – or coordinate your walking or stretching with meal and snack times! (Related reading: Try this easy, 10-minute stretching routine.)
As you can see, it IS possible (and easy!) to eat healthfully when working from home, especially if you plan for it. Try out some of these simple tips and you may find yourself to be even more productive than usual – that’s a win for you and a win for your employer, too!