Over half of us eat at our desk each day. In fact, one in ten of us eat all three meals at our desk. Many individuals seeking nutritional advice say that they struggle to eat healthily while at work. However, there are plenty of tasty and convenient options available nowadays which will get you through your working day. If you’d like better energy, mood, concentration and reduced cravings, then why not try making a few changes to the foods you chose at work.
Cereals are convenient and easy to eat at your desk. However, most cereals (especially mueslis and granolas) are packed full of fast-releasing carbohydrates. While these carbs lead to a sudden burst of energy, the effect is short-lived as the body promptly releases the hormone insulin in order to lower blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels result in tiredness, lack of concentration and irritability. This makes us crave sugar and stimulants to perk us back up again.
If this sounds like you, you may benefit from a protein breakfast. Protein keeps you fuller for longer, staving off hunger pangs. Good options include Greek yogurt with fruit, peanut butter on wholemeal toast, or hard-boiled eggs on wholemeal toast. Alternatively, try making a protein smoothie by blending frozen berries, milk and protein powder together in the morning.
If you’re grabbing breakfast from a coffee shop, skip the muffin or croissant. Instead, opt for a brown bread sandwich with egg or salmon and a piece of fruit.
We love to snack. A recent Mintel report says that we spend a whopping 50% more on snacks at work than we do on lunch!
Before you reach for a snack at work, ask yourself why you’re snacking. Are you physically hungry? Or, are you snacking due to stress, boredom or just because your colleague next to you is tucking into a treat from the vending machine? A recent survey found that frequent unhealthy desk snacking can result in a weight gain of up to half a stone a year!
If you are genuinely hungry then it’s a good idea to snack. But make sure you chose a snack with both carbohydrates and protein. This will keep you fuller for longer.
There are plenty of portable options you can store easily in your desk drawer. A piece of fruit and a small handful of almonds, or oatcakes and mashed avocado make good snacks. There are also some excellent natural protein bars on the market such as Bounce Balls and Pulsin bars. And if you need to nip out and grab something, Pret do good snacks such as carrot sticks and hummus or edamame beans.
If you do succumb to a sugar-craving then try and opt for a couple of squares of dark chocolate (70% cocoa), or a Nak’d bar.
A study conducted by the University of Sussex found that leaving the office to eat lunch increases our general wellbeing and happiness. While it may not be practical to take a full lunch-hour every day, try to nip out, even if it’s just to pick up lunch to eat at your desk.
Satisfying lunches that keep you going need to contain a good portion of protein and fibre. Good sources of protein are meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, lentils, chickpeas and beans. Good high-street lunch options include salads such as Pret’s No Bread Crayfish and Avocado, Simple Tuna, or Italian Chicken Salad. You could also pop into the supermarket and pick up a salad bowl and a pre-cooked salmon fillet. Delis also offer jacket potatoes with tuna, beans or cottage cheese.
The average UK office worker splurges £7.81 per day on lunch, snacks and hot drinks. However, those who take in packed lunches and make their own teas spend only £1.50 a day. Imagine what you could do with an extra £1,500 per year?
If you fancy trying to make your lunch from scratch here are a few good options to try.
Smoked Salmon & Avocado on Rye Bread
Mash ½ an avocado with a little chilli paste and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon over a slice of rye bread and top with sliced smoked salmon. This is also good with sliced roast chicken or turkey.
Chicken Tikka Wrap
Wrap cooked chicken pieces with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and some Greek yoghurt in a wholemeal wrap.
Jacket Sweet Potato with Spicy Cottage Cheese
Stick a sweet potato in the microwave (pricking all over first) and cook for 5 minutes. Turn it over and cook for another 5 minutes. Top with cottage cheese and salsa.
Tuna and Bean Salad
Mix one small tin of tuna with one chopped pepper, one chopped red onion, 2 handfuls of spinach, one handful of cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of chickpeas and 2 tablespoons of kidney beans. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and finish with a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.
When we eat at our desk we aren't really focused on the quality or quantity of our food, and can end up eating more. Furthermore, we tend not to chew our food well. Chewing is actually a vitally important first stage in digestion, due to the effects of an enzyme in our saliva. So, when eating at your desk, make sure you turn off your computer and focus on your food.
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