We spend a lot of our waking hours at work! So much so that making an effort to stay healthy in the office can have huge rewards on your overall health. As experts in corporate wellness, we at HEAL are all too familiar with the challenges of staying healthy in the workplace, from feeling burnt out and too busy to eat healthy or exercise, to spending lots of hours sitting. Today, I’m going to share five ways to be healthier at work, including dietary suggestions as well as some tips to improve your mood, energy, focus and overall well-being.
Start your day on the right track
An energized and productive day starts with your morning routine. I always recommend sleeping with a large glass of water on your nightstand to drink upon rising. Don’t underestimate this one! What many people don’t realize is that after going 8-10 hours without drinking any water overnight you’re actually quite dehydrated and dehydration can lead to fatigue and poor concentration. In fact, just a 1% drop in hydration levels can lead to up to a 12% drop in your productivity.
The next thing you’ll want to do is to start your day with a high protein breakfast that is free of refined sugar and low in overall sugar. This will help set your blood sugar on the right track for the day to provide sustained energy and keep cravings under control. In one study measuring the effects of a high protein breakfast vs. a high carbohydrate breakfast in people with Type 2 Diabetes, researchers found that participants who consumed a high protein breakfast had lower blood sugar levels and a better insulin response following both breakfast and lunch, in comparison with participants who ate a high carbohydrate breakfast.
I usually have a smoothie for breakfast with Genuine Health fermented organic vegan proteins+ powder (each serving has a whopping 20g of protein!), otherwise some eggs with avocado or overnight chia oats are a great option too.
Skip the sugar
At work, especially mid-afternoon when most of our energy levels tend to dip, it can be so easy to reach for a baked treat or something sweet. Like with breakfast, this can send your blood sugar on a whirlwind, eventually leading to cravings, brain fog and weight gain. Instead, have a snack that includes some protein and healthy fats to balance your blood sugar, like hard boiled eggs, veggies with hummus and avocado, or pair fruit with some almond butter. Another great option is mixing some greens+ extra energy with water. The Greens+ Extra Energy gives you an energy boost, but without the crash, and with all the extra nutrients to boot! The Greens+ line is packed with spirulina, chlorella, Vitamin C and so much more to give you energy to happily get through the day.
Pack your meals and snacks
Financial incentives aside, ultimately, the best way to have control over your food choices is to make your own. A 2015 study found that 92% of restaurant meals from both chain and non-chain restaurants have significantly too many calories than is recommended for the average person. The average meal contained roughly 1200 calories, more than half a person’s typical daily requirements,
This is why meal planning is my number one tool to stay on track. A simple tip is to just make extra of whatever you had for dinner so you can bring leftovers for lunch. Kale is a nutrient-rich leafy green that won’t go soggy if pre-dressed and mason jar salads are another great option that you can make ahead.
When you have healthy snacks on hand you won’t be as tempted when someone brings chocolate or donuts into the office. Genuine Health’s fermented vegan proteins+ bars are a great option here and they taste so good you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
Incorporate more movement into your day
Incorporating more movement throughout the day is essential for both your physical and mental health. You can try desk stretching, take advantage of standing desks, make a point of taking the stairs versus the elevator, or even schedule a walking meeting or walk while on a call.
Research shows that just being outside boosts energy in 90% of people so try to get out for a quick walk around the block. Exercise can improve learning and mental function, so getting in a quick workout at lunch can improve your mental clarity, help you avoid the afternoon slump and break up your day.
Practice computer hygiene
It’s safe to say that sitting and staring at a computer all day is an unavoidable reality for most of us. That being said, there’s still a lot you can do to mitigate the effects.
You can start by reducing the brightness on your computer, using an anti-glare screen and adding an app to your phone and laptop that automatically adjusts your screen colouring in accordance with sunlight.
There is now a lot of evidence to support taking short regular breaks, about every 30 to 60 minutes or so. While you’re on your break, try to expose yourself to a lot of bright sunlight, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and energy throughout the day.