With the summer holidays drawing to a close and the kids back to school, you may feel unprepared to jump back into your regular work routine, or (if you’re no longer remote working) maybe you’re dreading the temptation of office cakes and biscuits!
Now is a great opportunity to build some healthy new habits to set you up for the rest of the year, so that you don't feel the need for pre-Christmas crash-dieting.
If you’re looking to keep that summer glow and end the year on a high, here are my top 7 tips on how to eat healthily on-the-go and at work.
#1 Take your own packed lunch
The best way to avoid temptation and having to rely on unhealthy takeaway lunches is to be super organised and take your own lunch to work. Yes, it requires a little bit of planning and forethought, but it doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time. I recommend planning and making your lunches on Sundays so that you’re all set for at least the next 4 days (roughly how long cooked food will last for). For example, you could make a big batch of vegetable soup to take for lunches (if your office has a microwave), or you could roast a big batch of root veggies to have in wraps with (pre-bought) falafel and hummus. Or you could make a big salad at the weekend (just keep the dressing separate until ready to eat, so it doesn’t go soggy).
This method means you only have to cook on a Sunday and maybe once mid-week to see you through to Friday. Just plan an extra 5 minutes into your morning to assemble anything you need, or to grab your lunch from the fridge on the way out!
#2 Pack snacks
Ok so you’ve packed your lunch, but often it’s the snacks we slip up on, especially when there’s the temptation of office cakes or biscuits around!
Make sure you always have healthy snacks on hand, so that the munchies don’t force you into making unhealthy choices. Great snacks for travelling include fruit (apples, clementines, etc.), mixed roast nuts or trail mix, a pot of olives, or ‘energy balls’ made from dates (like my raw chocolate truffles).
I always keep a small bag of nuts or a protein bar in my handbag, just in case of emergency!
#3 Share healthy treats
If you tend to slip up because everyone in your office brings in cakes and biscuits and you feel it’s rude or awkward to say no, why not try making your own healthier versions to bring in and share with everyone? For example, cookies made with oat flour and unrefined sugar (such as coconut sugar), or gluten-free brownies sweetened with dates. That way, you don’t miss out on the social aspect of sharing food at work, and it also gives you a talking point to explain to your colleagues why you’ve changed the way you eat. Focus on the positive reasons for eating healthier (feeling more energised, clearer skin, etc.) rather than on what you’ve had to cut out. You never know, you might inspire some of them to make a change too!
#4 Get involved with the catering
If your office has a canteen but the options are limited (such as burgers, pizza, and toasties, for example), you could try reaching out to the catering company and working with them to formulate and offer some healthier options, like veggie wraps, vegetable soups, and salads. They usually cater to demand, so if they know that employees want healthier choices, they’re more likely to make the effort to offer these kinds of options. If they're unsure of what to offer, you may need to supply them with some healthy recipes and ideas, so do your prep work before the meeting and be realistic in terms of costs (they will probably be working to a limited budget, so "smashed avo on sourdough" will probably be out of the question!).
#5 Explain how good you feel
If you feel embarrassed eating differently to everyone at work, I would recommend not making a big deal out of your change in eating habits (don’t, for example, shout loudly about how unhealthy your colleague’s burger looks – even if it does! - as this will only draw attention to your own eating), but, when it comes up in conversation, focus on the WHY behind your changes rather than what you’re doing differently, or what you’ve cut out. Explain how good you feel eating this way and keep it positive. Don’t over-explain yourself or feel you need to go into a huge amount of detail; keep it to a few lines (maybe even rehearse them beforehand or write them out if you feel nervous, so you know exactly what you’re going to say). Leave them wanting more – if they’re interested, they’ll ask! Always lead by example – if people see you enjoying your healthy food and they notice the positive changes in you (like your energy) they’ll understand why you’re doing it, and maybe even want to join you!
#6 Opt for salads or grains (look out for supermarket buffets)
If taking your own lunch is not an option for you, choose something that has the most veggies possible, such as a salad bar (even just having this as a side plate is a great option; filling up on salad usually means you’ll eat less of something else). If your work canteen doesn’t have a salad bar (or other healthy choices), check if there’s a supermarket close to your office, as many supermarkets (such as Morrisons in the UK) have salad bars. Otherwise, many supermarkets also do bags of pre-cooked mixed grains, which make a super quick and healthy lunch when combined with some falafel and hummus, for example.
#7 See what facilities the office has (such as a kitchen)
If your office has a staff kitchen (with facilities to heat food) then there are more choices in terms of what you can bring with you for lunch (like soups, or leftovers from dinner). If there’s a fridge then you might even be able to store some staples there, meaning you could even make up a lunch while you’re there (if there’s a supermarket nearby), instead of having to spend time prepping lunch at home. If the facilities are limited then you need to be more prepared, and take things that are ready to eat, like healthy wraps or salads.
So, there you have my top 7 tips for healthily at work and on-the-go. As always, preparation is key, as it’s usually the emergency times when we end up making unhealthy choices! How do you stay healthy at work? Do you struggle with healthy lunches or temptations when out-and-about? Let me know in the comments below!
If you struggle with building healthy habits, this is something that health coaching excels in! Book in for a free consultation to discuss how I can support you to become the healthiest version of yourself possible.