HOW TO SURVIVE THOSE OFFICE BUFFETS & BUSINESS LUNCHES
DR EMMA KIRKE REYNOLDS
Whether it’s Christmas or just surviving work networking there are several potential pit falls in the office environment especially if you work in the food industry or food development industry.
Here are a few survival tips that may help to steer you through your journey with minimal disruption:
1. Get into a healthy mood. Understanding your eating patterns and habits can help you to identify areas that need to change to make long term impacts. I always ask my patients, nutrition and personal training clients to keep a nutrition diary of what, how much and when they are eating. If you do this yourself you can monitor whether you reach for an unhealthy snack if you’re stressed or you have an office buffet and over indulge.
2. Educate yourself, read food labels, try to choose foods with the shortest and easiest to read ingredients list. Join Facebook groups and sign up to newsletters for inspiration. Healthy eating is not torture and it is also not complicated.
3. A brilliant piece of advice is to never skip breakfast. If you start your day with a nutritious and filling breakfast you have boosted your metabolism and are less likely to pop to the vending machine or get a breakfast butty when you get to work. Studies have shown that eating a breakfast could also improve your memory and concentration levels as well as improving mood and lowering stress levels.
4. Ensure a store of healthier snacks are kept topped up in your desk drawer. This way you can combat hunger pangs on low calorie, nutritious snacks such as protein bars, trail mix or nuts. Fresh veggies, berries, low sugar yoghurt and plenty of water will be a lot better than anything you can grab from a vending machine. You need to keep the snacks out of sight or you could be tempted to snack more often than you need. Oatmeal and blueberries, Greek yoghurt and strawberries. Carrots and hummus or apple and nut butter.
5. Staying hydrated is paramount. 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid a day preferably water. Have the bottle on your desk and make an effort to drink it throughout the day. Staying hydrated will be you are less likely to stack confusing thirst for hunger. Drinking water can help you to think clearer, focus and concentrate better.
6. Make your meals the night before. You can make a larger portion of your evening meal and take the leftovers for your lunch the next day, especially if you are running short of time. Making meals especially for work can be done overnight in a slow cooker, and I often use this system for myself and my husband. You can prepare your meals and snacks and store them in a fridge or freezer.
7. Plan ahead. I find if I plan my meals at the weekend for the coming week, we have less waste, we don’t buy unnecessary items and we have no situation where we are struggling for food to take to work. You can control your nutrition and ensure you are eating sufficient fruit and veg. I look on Pinterest and Instagram for meal ideas.
8. Using a meal app could help you to monitor your calorie and nutrient consumption. If you use this you can plan ahead for business lunches, buffets or product testing. If you have to attend a business lunch, ask for the menu in advance and make your choice before you get there so that you can make healthier choices. If you have to attend a product tasting, ensure you don’t go to them hungry. Tasting is not consuming. You should be able to sample without over indulging.
9. Learn to say “no thank you!” Do you find it hard to say no to the weekly treat butty run, or the birthday cake socialisation? A slice of pizza or a meal out isn’t wrong, but if you are aware of how many times a week you have this treat it can help you to monitor and say no at times. The same for the birthday cake, you can actually say no or you could ask for a smaller piece.
10. A great piece of advice is to not eat your lunch at your desk. I find this is one of the biggest mistakes for office workers. You need to move from your desk for several reasons, for the health of your musculo-skeletal system, to decompress from office stress and to digest your food more efficiently. If you stay at your desk you don’t actually take a break. Go out for a brisk walk, take your lunch with you and eat al fresco or eat when you get back in the staff canteen. You will come back feeling refreshed and consequently more productive.
11. Perhaps try to get a gym buddy at work so you can share recipes and meal ideas and workouts. It will help you to stay on track and will help you burn more calories as you exercise.
12. Cold drinks are not always the best refreshment. Fizzy sodas can contain a lot of sugar, the diet versions have been the subject of some concern as a result of research suggesting that they can cause weight gain or at minimum not assist with weight loss. Black coffee and green tea are a viable alternative.
13. Here are some snack choices - fresh coconut chunks, sweet potato crisps, roasted chickpeas, yoghurt, dark chocolate, protein bars, mixed nuts, fruits.
14. Curbing cravings - this is vital in the workplace. The brain often sends hunger pangs based on food smells and sounds nearby. This can effect your good intentions. If you have nothing to satisfy your craving you could end up relying on sugary foods that are high on carbohydrates and fats. Be prepared with snacks that we mentioned previously.