A Dietitian's Top Tips for Working from Home (part 3 of 3)
Working from home instead of the office or usual working environment really is a significant change to your lifestyle. You may have previously been losing weight successfully, or have been maintaining a healthy weight for years; then by working at home you suddenly find yourself staring at the inside of your fridge ten times a day, or find constant evidence of snack wrappers and crumbs over your computer or desk.... then your weight starts to creep up. An unhealthy working from home routine can lead to signifiant weight gain
Take a look at these Dietitian tips and see what can work for you....
1. Try to work in a space away from your kitchen. This is my number one tip as working in a separate room or space from the kitchen will create a visual and sensual space away from food and temptation. Remember to bring water with you to the desk to keep you hydrated.
2. Start the day by having a good hearty breakfast (eat like a king quote) full of fibre which will keep you satisfied for longer and so you are less likely to want to snack and may be able to concentrate better with slow-release energy from breakfast.
Healthy and filling breakfast ideas include:
50g porridge oats or high fibre cereal and a handful of mixed fruit/nuts/seeds plus milk/ plant based milk
Overnight oats (tastes like cheesecake to me): 40g porridge oats, 200g low fat greek or natural yogurt, 1-2 handfuls of mixed fresh or frozen berries (layer oats+yogurt+fruit in a bowl/jar, cover and leave overnight in the fridge, stir all together and add milk or extra yogurt if you prefer a thinner consistency).
2 slices of wholemeal or multigrain bread with 200g /half a tin of baked beans or 1-2 scrambled/poached eggs or half a mashed or sliced avocado on top instead of butter/margarine
Mixed fruit and 150g low fat greek yogurt
2 egg omelette, tomatoes and 2 wholemeal or multigrain toast
3. Have a daily routine. Like you would do on days when you go to work or the office. get up, have a shower, have breakfast etc. Plan when and for how long lunch/dinner (depending on your working hours) is going to be.
If you know that you usually feel hungry by noon, then plan lunch for 12 o'clock.
If you would usually have a snack in your routine, allow this to happen and decide on healthy snack ideas. You could even prepare a "packed lunch" like a salad / healthy sandwich or wrap so you know exactly what you are going to eat when lunch times arrives without having to decide or make time to prepare it (which can be difficult to do sometimes when you are hungry!) Get ahead and prepare your lunch the night before or plan your weekday meals before the week and freeze in batches (you would only need to take out one meal portion from the freezer the day before), this way you will have your healthy meal ready prepared for when your stomach is ready and screaming out for food.
Healthy snack ideas:
fruit (an apple, 2 satsumas, around 10 grapes, handful of berries, 3-4 heaped tablespoon of tinned or frozen fruit)
veggie sticks like celery, carrots, cucumber, fennel, peppers with a dip such as hummus (check out my favourite hummus recipe) or cottage cheese *prepare before your day*
low or no salt rice or corn cake with a spread of peanut butter
low fat, low sugar yogurt
a handful of unsalted nuts
a boiled egg
75g beans such as pre-cooked edamame beans or mixed beans (can be found in fridge section of large supermarkets)
Healthy lunch ideas (can be either prepared quickly or pre-prepared the night or morning before):
Chicken, couscous salad wrap
Pre-prepared vegetable curry (portioned in a container)
Large bowl of salad with added beans/ seeds and rice/pasta
Prepared soup full of veggies and crusty bread (try to avoid or use very little butter or margarine)
Tuna salad sandwiches
Poached egg and avocado on toast
Beans on toast
4. Make sure you actually eat. When you manage to get in your "work flow" and "in the zone" it can tempting to carry on through the day without a break, or without eating. If you are skipping meals you run the risk of arriving to 5 o'clock or the end of the working day in a "hangry" (and possibly dehydrated") state and leading you to overeat or make unhealthy meal choices.
5. Keep hydrated. This will reduce likelihood of headaches and may increase satiety.
Aim to drink mostly water and aim for 2000-2500ml total fluid intake per day. You could use a water bottle with measurements on them to keep track of how much you are drinking.
Try to avoid sugary drinks.
Limit fruit juices or smoothies to maximum one 200ml glass per day because of their high sugar concentration, and have with a meal instead of in-between meals to enhance dietary absorption of iron and reduce tooth decay, compared to drinking in between meals.
Avoid drinking alcohol while working
6. Limit caffeinated drinks. Caffeine famously wakes us up and helps us to focus. Working from home can seemingly give an endless supply of tea and coffee, however overdoing it can lead to headaches, anxiety, concentration difficulties, digestion issues and fatigue. It is advisable to limit to 2-3 cups of caffeinated drinks per day, or reduce the amount gradually if you are having much more than that. You could even switch to a decaffeinated tea or coffee in the afternoon or reduce the strength. Cola and diet cola is also a caffeinated drink to consider.
7. Out of sight, out of mind! Avoid buying unhealthy junk food for snacks into the house if you are tempted to eat them. Instead, have healthy snacks ready available for if they are needed to keep you going.
8. Avoid multi-tasking while lunching. Give yourself at least 30 minutes (ideally one hour) to enjoy a meal and allow yourself to be mindful about what and how much you are eating. If you make every bite count, you are much less likely to overeat. Give your mind and body a break and move away from your working area into the dining room, kitchen or outdoor space for a change of scenery. If you are working from home with a spouse, partner or friend then invite them to have lunch together and agree on when lunch time will be.
9. Stand up and walk away from your desk for a break, instead of snacking. If work is all getting a bit too much for your mind, take 5 minutes to walk, stretch, hydrate. Consider going outside for fresh air if you can or literally stand up, gaze out of the window and stretch your arms high... maybe you'll be feeling more productive in no time and costs zero calories.
10. Have a ritual "shut down" at the end of a working day. Finish work at the time you were intending to, clean your work-space, make a list of to-dos for the next day and then switch-off. This allows time to focus on your non-working life such as relationships, physical activity and weight management goals.