Sharon Madigan, Head, Performance Nutrition at Sport Ireland Institute writes a guest blog about healthy eating. She urges you to look at your breaks, lunches, exercise, nutrition, and regular eating habits as part of improving work performance. These healthy tips for working from home are easy to implement.
The pandemic gave rise to working from your home for many of us. There was no need to make or prepare lunches, or stop at a coffee shop. Everything was at our fingertips, in our own kitchens. While most of us would have believed that this was the best thing since before the pandemic, I realized that there was one question that was still being asked. It was:
“What’s for lunch?” What’s for dinner?
We have settled into our routines, some are using a hybrid model while others spend the majority of their working week WFH. This presents some challenges from a nutrition and food perspective, but it is an opportunity to refocus and create new habits that can have very positive effects on our health over the long and short term.
It has been proven that the food environment can have a significant effect on people’s behaviours and may lead to weight gain over the long-term, particularly if people are dependent on eating food prepared outside their home. Working outside allows us to access foods that have higher fats, salts, and sugars. These foods fall under the category of ultra-processed or processed foods.
Why bother with healthy foods?
- Healthy eating habits and regular exercise are essential for concentration as well as mood. Hanger can occur when we feel hungry, or if we go on for too long. This can lead to a loss of productivity and a reduction in our ability to meet deadlines.
- It is crucial to take a break for lunch. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle of Zooms. You must be strict with your diary. Get up from your desk and take microbreaks to eat somewhere else.
- Work must be performed just as an athlete does at competition. As an athlete would, you should consider your lunch breaks, regular eating habits, and exercise as important factors in improving your work performance. When working at home , think of your productivity.
- Fuelling our brain should be treated the same as our bodies. Over the years, studies have shown that berries and leafy greens can reduce brain health decline. Both fresh and frozen can be used. For a quick snack, add berries to porridge or fruit salad in the morning. Great lunch options include frozen spinach and berries in smoothies or soups with vegetables.
- Brain health has been improved by the MIND diet. It includes fruits, green vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. It’s not the individual foods that are important, but the whole. Variety is key.
You can be creative with your salads, for example. You can use green leaves, pomegranate seed (also available frozen, which is great for saving waste), tomatoes, feta cheese and some crushed nuts. To add flavour, I prefer to toast the nuts first.
Spanish Omelette is an excellent way to make use of leftover boiled potatoes from your previous evening meal. Frozen spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers and mushrooms can be added to your eggs. It is what you have in your fridge, or to be more honest, it is all that you have! Broccoli stems, goat’s cheese and other vegetables are great options.
- Make sure to plan ahead. One-pot meals are great because they are easy to freeze, and reheat at lunchtime. Batch cooking on weekends saves time and makes it easier to eat healthy. Soups can be prepared ahead of time and are great for adding variety and color. You can freeze them in bags, which take up less space in your freezer.
- Do you struggle with afternoon slumps It is important to get enough exercise. No matter what the weather, make time to go for short walks and stretches during lunchtime. Consider having a larger breakfast and a lighter lunch, focusing on high-fiber carbohydrate options.
Although we may not like to cook at home, this gives us the opportunity to prepare meals from the basics , reduce salt and take more control over what we eat. This is a great way to cut down on food waste and lower your grocery bill.
It is important to remember that habits take time to get used to. Don’t be discouraged if there are a few bumps along the way. Many people try to make too many changes at once. small, consistent changes are the key to success.