March is Nutrition Month here in Canada, and this year’s theme of Eating Well 9-5 is designed to inspire Canadians to make positive changes for a healthier workplace environment. Research shows that eating well at work can boost concentration and productivity, and reduce sick days by helping to improve overall health. If you are like the 45 per cent of Canadians who say that eating healthily at work is challenging – according to the Dietitians of Canada – then check out these tips to improve your nutrition during the workday:
Almost 40 per cent of Canadians skip breakfast, even though that can lead to weight gain and increased appetite later in the day. Missing breakfast also leaves you less alert and unable to concentrate at work. Instead, prep breakfast the night before: put frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and almond milk in the blender and store in the fridge overnight. As a convenient protein option, hard-boiled eggs can be refrigerated for up to one week. If you’re among the 12 per cent of Canadians limiting gluten, pair your eggs with whole grain, gluten-free toast to ensure you reap the energy boost from carbs. Need a 60 second breakfast idea? Try nut butter and banana wrapped in a tortilla.
Snacking at Work
One in four Canadian workers are highly stressed on most days. Studies show that stress can increase the desire to eat high-fat, sugary snacks. Here’s a sweet idea: keep your workplace free of empty-calorie treats. Instead, putting out a fresh fruit bowl will encourage healthy snacking throughout the day. Next time you’re planning catering for a meeting, order food that will help keep attendees focused and productive, such as salads and wraps filled with veggies and lean protein such as chicken, cheese, eggs or legumes.
How often do you find yourself eating lunch at your desk? While you might be trying to save time, eating in front of your computer can lead to overeating because you’re not paying attention to your food. (Plus, 100 times more bacteria are found on the average desktop than a kitchen table, and 400 times more than the average toilet seat. Yuck!) One of the easiest ways to pack a healthy lunch is by making extra dinner and bringing leftovers. For variety, form a lunch club with co-workers, and take turns bringing a nutritious lunch for the group. Encourage your lunch club to head outside for a post-meal walk to help digestion, so you feel energized when you head back to your desk.
It has happened to us all. Three o’clock hits and you’re lethargic and eyeing up the coffee machine. But did you know that a large (563 mL) coffee shop “double-double” has the same calories and more sugar than a chocolate glazed donut? Prevent the dreaded mid-day slump by staying hydrated and keeping healthy snacks in your desk drawer, such as pre-portioned packs of nuts, crackers or granola bars. Regardless of snack choice, if you’re one of many Canadians with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you may experience fewer symptoms and less fatigue by going with a gluten-free option. Add cucumber, lemon or mint to jazz up plain water and replenish often before a slump sets in. Sipping on herbal tea throughout the day will also keep you hydrated.
The average Canadian’s commute to work is 25 minutes. Long working and commuting hours have been associated with mindless eating in the car, and reliance on convenience foods like take-out or restaurant meals. Before you head home, continue to fight dehydration by filling up your water bottle, and avoid pre-dinner munchies by packing healthy snacks. To ensure healthy weekday suppers, spend some time on the weekend planning your meals.
Healthy eating during the week has its challenges, but by following these simple tips you can reap the benefits of improved work performance and overall vitality.
Contributor: A Registered Dietitian in Kelowna, B.C., Tristaca Curley is the founder of Fueling With Food. She can be found at www.fuelingwithfood.com.