Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

10 steps to be healthier at work

With many of us spending at least 10 hours of work each day, and with much of that spent sitting, is it any wonder that work is making many of us fat? With daily treats, the office biscuit tin and regular drinks and celebrations just some of the issues we have to contend with, gradual weight gain can be the side effect for many of putting in a regular working week. So if you know that your workday health habits could do with an overhaul, here are 10 simple ways to have a healthier workday.

1. Have set meal and snack times

Mindless munching brings many of us undone when it comes to excessive calorie consumption, especially when we get into bad habits of eating in front of the computer. Keep your food intake limited to set meal and snack times which will not only help to control your total calorie intake but also ensure you take breaks from the screen every 2-3 hours.

2. Take your food to work with you

The foods we routinely purchase from a food court contain double the calories of the meal we prepare at home. For this reason not only is taking a sandwich, salad or leftovers for lunch smart from a calorie perspective but it will also save you plenty of cash a week.

3. Avoid the ‘feeders’

They may bring in homemade cakes or biscuits, they may bring back treats from the vending machine each afternoon or they may always be trying to entice you to order that muffin or banana bread with coffee, yet they rarely indulge themselves. While it may be hard to say no the first few times, after a while it gets a lot easier and once a feeder identifies they cannot tempt you they will move onto someone else.

4. Drink more water

The more coffee we drink, the less water we are likely to consume. In fact, at least 70% of us are chronically dehydrated at any one time which leaves us feeling lethargic, bloated and far from our best. If you do not have a water bottle within easy reach, it is highly likely you are not drinking enough. While we can count the fluid we get from cups of tea, in reality this means we still need at least a litre of extra water each day to keep moderately hydrated. So get into the habit of always keeping cold water close by and aim to get through at least two 600ml bottles during the work day.

5. Stand up

Longer and longer hours spent sitting has a lot to answer for when it comes to workday weight gain. For this reason a standing desk is a must when it comes to not only burning more calories on a daily basis but also for back health. In fact you burn double the number of calories standing than you do sitting which is a very good reason to invest in a standing desk such as Varidesk and aim to stand for at least 2 hours of the working day. 

6. Keep food out of sight

Human beings are programmed to eat when food is in front of them. For this reason when taking healthy food supplies to the office, keeping them out of sight is the key if you want them to last longer than 10am. Portion controlling nuts, crackers, bars and treats will also help to prevent you demolishing an entire packet of nuts or box of snacks simply because you have had a bad day, are bored or just because they taste good.

7. Keep away from the biscuit tin

Your office may supply cheap biscuits, or a lolly jar, or even a fruit box but the issue with having food readily available, tempting sweet foods in particular, is that it is very easy to get into a habit of consuming them regularly, even if you do not really feel like it as they become a mindless habit. As it is work rather than leisure, make a general rule to not to indulge in tempting work foods and instead save your calories for real treats consumed on weekends or out of hours.

8) Take your lunch break

It could be argued that as part of a long working day, lunch is actually the most important meal of the day. Failing to take your lunch break is likely to leave you craving carbs and sugars come 4pm, and the wrong choice at the food court will leave you with a lunch choice that contains double the calories you need. The simple act of prioritizing a 400-500 calorie lunch that includes lean proteins and vegetables by 1pm each day is one of the key things you can do to keep your nutrition on track.

9. Get your steps up

While it may be challenging to find time to exercise when workdays and commutes are long, if you can simply monitor your steps each day, and aim to get your steps up to a minimum of 10000 each day you will have made a significant step towards preventing workday weight gain. You may even find that this basic amount of movement supports weight loss when part of a calorie controlled diet.

10. Recruit support

It is well documented in the literature that we become like the people we spend our time when it comes to weight. This means if you are in a healthy office environment it is going to be much easier to control your weight compared to an unhealthy environment of little activity and overeating. Seeking out other like-minded, healthy individuals will help you to keep on track with your diet and lifestyle goals, simple because we now spend so much more time at work than we ever have in the past.