The modern office can feel like a minefield of unhealthy eating options. Donuts tempt you from the break room and vending machines dispense indulgences with a simple click. Fortunately, healthy eating in the workplace is possible with a good nutrition strategy. A wholesome diet at work may even help to support your focus and productivity. So, get started with your new office eating habits by reading more below.
Common Cuisine Challenges At Work
The second you walk into the office, your day begins. You have emails to answer, meetings to attend, and projects to finish. All of that running around and mental activity requires energy. Unfortunately, with little time and few options, it’s easy to swap convenience for quality when it comes to food.
But, you should give your food choices serious consideration – especially, if you want to enhance your work output. That’s because your brain requires a lot of energy to run. In fact, even at a resting metabolic rate, your brain consumes about 20% of your total caloric energy.1
That’s because the food you eat gets converted into glucose, which then powers your brain to help keep you focused and alert. But, here’s the kicker, your body doesn’t process all food in the same way.2
Quick Glucose Conversion
Carbohydrates, such as pasta and bread, get converted into glucose, which your brain needs. But, they create large amounts of it, which spikes your levels. So, your body gets a quick jolt of energy from this kind of food, but then it crashes. This slump after that sugar high can lead to headaches, fatigue, and a lack of concentration.3
High-Fat Fatigue (Unhealthy Fats)
Foods that contain high levels of unhealthy fats do the opposite of improving productivity. They increase fatigue. You know this if you’ve ever eaten a big burger with a heaping side of fries for lunch and sat down to work. Queue heavy eyelids and sleepiness. That’s because eating unhealthy fats causes your brain to produce neurohormones that make you react with less alertness.4
Tricks The Brain Plays
The demands of work can leave you feeling stressed. That stress can lead to bad food choices because it actually makes you crave foods that are high in fat and sugar.5
Additionally, when your glucose levels get low (i.e. when you are hungry), it actually hampers your self-control. This means you are more likely to choose unhealthy foods, even though you know they’re bad for you.6
How You Can Win At Office Eating
For every burger that slows you down, there are a handful of healthy choices that will energize you. Check out a few of these healthy food choices, and learn how they can help fuel your productivity at the office.
Fruits And Vegetables
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best things to do at the office. In general, they are great sources of vitamins and minerals that help support a healthy heart (and a healthy weight). Moreover, fruits and vegetables may help also help support focus and energy levels.7
Bananas provide a unique blend of potassium and carbohydrates that can give you sustained energy for long periods of time.8
Bring a few and leave them on your desk. They don’t require refrigeration, so you can have them on snack-standby. Or, add them to your favorite smoothie in the morning for an all-day-dose of nutrition.
Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries should probably come standard on every desk. These tiny fruits do big things for the brain. They are full of antioxidants that protect brain cells from damage and improve neuron communication. All in all, berries will have you processing information like a human supercomputer.9
Add a couple of handfuls of berries to some Greek yogurt – another food that may help support good health – for a delicious and super-charged breakfast.10
Kale And Spinach
Bring a salad of these leafy greens to keep that pep in your mental step. They have tons of vitamins and minerals. These greens are also rich in iron, which carries oxygen through your cells and creates energy. All that extra O2 in the brain does anything but make you an airhead. It powers your brain to help enhance productivity.11
Other Great Brain Food
Try some of these other superfoods on your next lunch break.
Brown Rice And Whole Grains
Switch from white rice to whole grain or brown rice. When you eat the whole grain, you get all of the nutrients. This includes magnesium, which helps support cognitive functions.12
You can add these grains to a salad or eat them as a side with your favorite vegetable stir-fry.
Salmon is the king of omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely beneficial for your health. So, if you need some protein for lunch, consider a salmon roll over that Reuben sandwich. Your brain will be swimming in energy.13
These nuts make for a great snack. You can add them to a trail mix or munch them all on their own. They are loaded with vitamin E, magnesium, and protein to help keep you energized for long periods.14
You can enjoy these as a nut butter too. It’s a great substitute for peanut butter. Put it on your sandwiches or add it to a smoothie for a mental jumpstart.
Your healthy office eating doesn’t have to be all salads and grains. Dark chocolate may also help support your productivity levels. It contains flavonoids, which provide antioxidant effects to the brain.15
But, reach for chocolates high in cacao and low in sugar. Chocolatey treats with lots of sugar can have negative effects on your mental prowess.16
Drink Plenty Of Water
When you feel those mid-morning lags set in, drink some water instead of a cup of coffee or tea. Water is the best way to hydrate. And, hydration is key for your focus and energy levels. In fact, studies show that dehydration can diminish mental performance. This gives you even more of a reason to take that trip to the water cooler.17
How To Eat Healthy At Work
You have an idea of what to eat. Now, it’s time to focus on how and when you eat. The combination of this information will promote healthy eating in the office.
Planning and prep can do wonders for your workplace eating habits. If you bring your own food into work, you eliminate the need to make any choices for lunch or snacking.
You can choose healthy foods and how much to bring. Portion control can help prevent overeating that might otherwise leave you feeling groggy after lunch.18
That’s why it’s so important to come to work with your meals and food all worked out. With healthy snacks and food options available, you can avoid making those snap, unhealthy decisions.
Make Healthy Eating Habits Easy
Sounds easy, right? But, eating lots of fruits and vegetables at the office can be tricky. Healthy options are only available if you make them available. Bring as many healthy eating options as often as you can to the office.
It’s easier to eat these healthy foods when they are accessible. Keep a jar of almonds on your desk. Bring a container of berries and a quart of greek yogurt to save in the fridge. When you set yourself up to win, then you have a much better chance to succeed with your eating goals.19
Eat Smaller Amounts More Often
Instead of jamming all of your calories in at noon every work day, try to eat smaller amounts periodically throughout the day. A large meal causes a spike in your blood sugar levels which might slow down productivity.20
Physical Activity – A Form Of Nutrition
Small moments of physical activity and down time are crucial for your health too. Stretching your muscles and walking offer your mind and body time to recover. Just a few five-minute breaks throughout the day may boost your motivation.21
If you come to work with lunch, then you won’t need to spend time going out to eat. Spend that extra free time by going for a walk or stretching. Physical activity throughout the day will amplify your productivity even further.22
Healthy Office Eating Is All About Well-Being
At the end of the day, eating foods like fruits and vegetables can help make you a healthier and happier person.23
So, whether you want to work with more oomph or simply feel better, the healthy food options above can help you. They contain the wholesome nutrients that your body needs for sustained energy and focus. Plus, they all taste great.
Give yourself every advantage you deserve by making them a normal part of your eating routine. This is easy to do if you plan ahead and bring your own meals to work. With the right sack lunch, you can have all of nature’s best brain food right at your fingers. Each bite will help make you the best worker you can be.
Tips For Maintaining A Healthy Body Weight: Health And Weight Loss
Healthy Snack Ideas: Easy Healthy Snacks For Work
Life Is All About Balance: Find Harmony And Happiness In Your Work-Life Balance