Georgina Lee, Founder of Nutrition Consultancy The Inside Works, shares a practical, five-step guide to maintaining health and getting results while managing the pitfalls of the office.
You’ve set yourself new health goals and are keen to stay on track, but certain situations can challenge you more than others, and this is never more apparent than in the workplace.
You’re quietly tapping away when someone pops a glazed pink doughnut on your desk or a meeting means a conference room full of goodies.
1. Beat the peer pressure and say no
How often in a busy office is there a birthday party cake, a colleague who suggests a fast food lunch or someone returning from holiday armed with boxes of chocolates? It never ends. Just say ‘no’. No need to overthink or justify your choices.
If someone slides a slice of cake on your desk and it’s not going to make you feel good, put it back. Be warned some colleagues may not like that you’re going to eat the salad you brought from home instead of the pizza. They may even sound concerned for your wellbeing: ‘come on, it’s Thursday’ or ‘go on, it’s Suzie’s birthday one won’t harm you’.
Eventually, when you’ve held firm a few times they will realise that you mean ‘no’. Acceptance will set in and you can feel quietly smug that you have gone against the grain. If you really stay the course, I guarantee you will start noticing those cake pushers starting to follow suit. Now you’re a fire starter.
2. Be prepared
Failing to plan is planning to fail. In an office where your diary is packed with meetings, people asking you questions or last-minute requests, your ability to get a decent lunch break is hard. This can mean grabbing something in a coffee shop, ordering in or reaching for the quickest fix.
Sadly this may equate to a blueberry muffin or chocolate bar. Plan your meals and bring something from home. Meal prepping doesn’t need to be boring or hard work. Plan meals using simple ingredients and prep for 2-3 days; you will feel amazing once done.
If you need snacks then go back to basics and bring in portable foods like apples, yoghurt, nuts. Don’t overcomplicate. You’ll be more inclined to stay on track and not be derailed by the office sweets if you fuel well during the day.
3. Get off your chair
How easy is it to get sidetracked and suddenly before you know it your eyes are glazed, your back is bent over and you’ve forgotten the last time you moved your legs.
Sometimes the most obvious things are dismissed and you may think you have to go hit the Body Pump classes for an hour to make an impact on your health. Wrong! Start looking for opportunities to move; take the stairs, offer to do the coffee run, park further away.
Movement throughout the day will have a huge impact on your health, moods, energy. You’ll feel great and less likely to hit the chocolate at 4pm.
4. Recognise why you are eating
Work can at times be monotonous. It can be these moments of boredom, stress, habit that we start reaching for snacks. Just consider your eating habits and be conscious of how much you are consuming that isn’t a result of you being hungry.
Do you tend to go for a mid-afternoon chocolate hit to ‘get the energy levels up’? Do you hit the vending machine when you’re at a loose end?
Sometimes, just not eating at your desk can be a help. Sit away from the screen, you’re less likely to overeat, more likely to enjoy your food and go back to work with a more relaxed mind.
5. Create a community
Sometimes being on a health kick can feel a bit isolating. Get your peers involved and start to encourage healthy vibes in the office. Replace the chocolate stash with a fruit bowl.
Start a lunch club where each person brings a plate of their favourite nutritious foods and start sharing. Encourage healthy catering with local supplies for events & conferences. Where possible eat with your colleagues and enjoy the social aspect that food brings.