Here, at Me Time Away, we’ve always been working remotely. When launching, we believed that workweek without communing is vital to achieving a healthy work/life balance. Within a few weeks, we realized that working from home has its own disadvantages too.
By experimenting and sharing experiences during our weekly calls and simply learning from each other what worked what didn’t- we optimized our home setups and developed new healthy habits to make sure we stay driven, focused and healthy. To find out more, read our previous post on overall working from home tips to improve wellbeing.
Here, we share our experienced-based approach to eating healthier while working from home to ensure both your physical and mental wellbeing is elevated as it’s key to your overall success and happiness.
Schedule your meals
When working from home, it is important to create a daily routine. Having scheduled hours for catching up with your colleagues, making phone calls to clients or brainstorming, will help you stay motivated and focused to achieve your daily goals.
Eating routine is equally important, as it’s fundamental to your health. Set up a dedicated time for your main meal, and then plan your snacks, coffee and tea breaks accordingly. This way, you will stay nutritious and will feed your body when it needs- yes, if you stick to it, it will eliminate your unplanned snacking too.
If you are one of those people who forget about eating when working, the daily menu plan will ensure that you don’t skip those nutritive meals.
It will save you time
Buy food once or twice a week. This will make you think about what you cook for a whole week ahead. It will help you save some pennies, as you will have fewer opportunities for impulsive buying.
Fresh vs. frozen vs. canned?
Nothing beats fresh products. But, if you decide to shop just once a week, it is simply impossible to have all fresh ingredients whenever you need them. Stocking up with frozen and canned products is a useful option.
Frozen vegetables and fruits are picked and frozen at the highest season, so they’re actually surprisingly fresh and forever in season. They are often not sprayed with preservatives as fresh products most of the time are.
Canned vegetables you can store for longer so you’ll likely cut down on food waste and save money (they are usually cheaper options).
Frozen fruits like mango, banana, spinach, different barriers are perfect in smoothies whereas soup is a forgiving base for vegetables of all kinds. You would be surprised how rarely fresh products beat them out in terms of taste and quality.
Are you hungry or just experiencing a craving
Whenever you work from a dedicated home office room or your dining table, the kitchen, or rather the distance between you and the kitchen, becomes a problem- it is just a few steps away so it is very easy to grab a snack or another protein bar throughout the day.
We all have food cravings at times and it is nothing unusual, however, when unmanaged or used to deal with boredom, sadness and anxiety, it may lead to unhealthy weight gain. If you find yourself in the front of the open fridge a few times a day wondering what to bite now, read on!
How to differentiate hunger from craving?
Hunger comes when you haven’t eaten for a few hours. The sensation will not pass with time. You will feel a growling stomach, weakness and perhaps even a headache. When you are hungry, you would eat anything.
A craving may appear even when you have just eaten. These appetites are usually for comfort foods, like having cookies or a piece of chocolate with your coffee or another protein ball.
How to kill the food craving?
Try to distract or substitute it. Go for a longer walk, have a glass of water instead, give a call to a friend. If the craving is a result of negative feeling, learn how to identify the triggers causing it. Positive self-talk helps. In the worse case, try to replace those carbs cravings with their healthier options (carrots or celery sticks, have an apple).
Well balance your meal
With so many diet choices, many contradicting each other, defining what healthy means could be a challenge on its own. Health organizations recommend 5 portions of fruits and vegetable per day, 2 portions of sustainably sourced fish per week and overall to eat less red and processed meat.
But many recommend healthy balancing of every meal you prepare. Below is a simple framework, shared by dietitian McKel Kooienga, which will support you in reaching your nutritional goals and will keep your guts healthy!
I do a quick check-in when I’m cooking and it’s become so easy for me to whip something up in the kitchen with what I have on hand or navigating food on the go. I just do a visual check looking for these five things and I know I’m good to go!McKel Kooienga, MS, RD, LDN
Clear out your kitchen cupboard
Set aside some time over next weekend to check over your kitchen cupboards for ignored groceries that you can use up in your meals over the next few weeks.
Take everything out, clean the cupboard, group the groceries in a way that makes sense to you and then plan the meals to include the ingredients you already have.
This will not only help you to cut down on food waste, but it’s also another way to help you save a few pennies on groceries.
Keep a Simple Recipe Journal
With busy work schedules, whilst still working from home, it is simply impossible to cook for hours every single day. You may simply enjoy more a crash out on the sofa and feast on another episode of Friends than spending time in the kitchen.
To make your cooking easier, set up a Simple Recipe Journal and collect recipes you tried over the weekends so you can dig them out when most needed. Look for meals which preparation takes less than 20 minutes (excluding cooking) or those with 8 ingredients or less. You would also prefer those, which are cooked in the oven rather than fried, so you do not have to stay in the kitchen, whilst the meal gets ready. Consider cooking en masse over the weekend or in the evening, to enjoy it as lunches or dinners during the week. Meals that cook once, eat all week could be a convenient option if you know that your workweek is particularly busy.
Mindful and slow eating
Mindful eating has its roots in yoga and Buddhism.
What is mindful eating?
In simple words, mindful eating is about being present when we eat – paying attention to what you eat, how you eat it whenever you eat it’s about noticing the textures of the food on your tongue, it’s taste and noticing your thoughts, reactions and feelings when eating.
But mindful eating starts before you even sit at your dining table (btw, eating at your desk is not an option!). It’s about paying attention to your grocery buying choices- what different foods there are on offers, where they came from, what’s their production impact on the environment, how they smell, their colours, what nutritious they offer. Mindful eating is also about food preparation in a mindful way. It’s about paying attention to chopping, peeling, frying, cooking and baking and then to the way it is plated, its portion sizes.
What are the benefits of mindful eating?
Among many obvious benefits like losing weight (you eat slower, so you stop eating when you are truly full) or cutting occasional snacking, it also reduces stress, improves digestions and overall increases enjoyment so makes you happy! Give it a go!
Make water your first drink of choice
Although the new monitors and laptops produce a small amount of UV radiations, they still produce a significant amount of heat, which causes skin and eye dryness. This is why you need to drink even more to stay hydrated when working in front of the screen. You may also keep applying water-based moisturiser to hydrate your skin and keep in nourished.
Reduce caffeine drinks to a single drink a day
Opinions about the consumption of coffee and caffeine-based drinks are mixed. Some list its numerous benefits with the most significant being a reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes and lowering the risk of some cancers; others link it to sleeping problems and even depression.
We won’t discourage you from having a “cuppa” in the morning, but pay attention to how many of them you drink during the day. One or two cups per day will keep you on the safe side. Have a last coffee by noon to make sure it doesn’t negatively influence your sleeping pattern. If you enjoy this aromatic drink after lunch, switch to its decaf version, so you can still appreciate its aromatic smell and taste, whilst having a long sleep at night.
Feel your cupboards and fridge with healthy choices
Without a daily routine or a meal plan, you may catch yourself staring at the open cupboard more often than needed. This becomes even more problematic when your cupboard is filled with junk food.
Replace highly carbs snacks like sweets, cakes and crisps with their healthy options,
If you’re not a fan of carrot sticks or cannot eat nuts, replace sweet chocolate with its dark alternative, ice creams with frozen yoghurt, crisps with popcorn or sweets with dried fruits.
If you switch to healthy, whole-food alternatives with a lot of protein and nutrients, nibbles can even influence some weight loss.
We hope you found our tips on how to eat healthy when working from home helpful. Don’t be overwhelmed with this list of suggestions. You can gradually change your habits by taking actions one by one.
Have we forgotten about something? Or have you got more tips or ideas? Let us know all about your healthy eating habits in the comments below!