How to eat healthy as an office worker
There is no denying that diet is a major factor when it comes to health. Your dietary choices will determine the quality of your life and your longevity.
So if you struggle to eat healthy as an office worker, then you should realize that it is most likely because you already have a bad relationship with food. The office environment is just a secondary factor that complicates the situation.
However, if you are reading this, then you probably have already acknowledged the problem, or at least you realize that you have a problem and you are willing to work to correct it.
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Commitment to eating healthy
But before we cover this topic in detail, there is something very important that we need to tell you.
This is not going to be easy for you.
In fact, it's going to be hard and painful.
If you're used to eating pizza and cookies whenever you like, or whatever options you have available around the office, then there are some major changes that need to occur if you would like to eat healthily. And you need to accept that there will be setbacks.
You will try and then you will fail and you will hate yourself.
Then you will try again and you will fail once more and you will hate yourself even more.
Here we will talk about eating healthy regardless of what your weights and fitness goals are.
What constitutes unhealthy food?
That would be foods that are highly processed, containing lots of preservatives, colorings, additives, sugar, and hydrogenated oils. Such as:
- ice cream
- candy bars
- fast food
- carbonated drinks
- frozen meals
What constitutes healthy food?
Singular food items that can be consumed after proper washing or cooking. Such as:
- nuts and seeds
- some dairy products
- meat and fish
Always read the ingredients list
You will be shocked to find out what some of your favorite foods and snacks are made out of and just how calorie-dense they are. The things you should be particularly vigilant about are artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils as they can mess you up badly with prolonged consumption.
It might be hard to say goodbye to some food items you have consumed for years but remind yourself that these changes will prolong your life and improve its quality.
Strategies to eat healthy at the office
Now that you are aware that some foods are good for you and others are basically killing you slowly, it's time you evaluate the situation around your office. You need to figure out what options fit your new lifestyle decision to eat healthily.
You should focus on places that properly cook their food using healthy ingredients.
Make sure that your meals consist of lean proteins and lots of veggies. This will keep you satiated and focused to do your work, and you will avoid the post-lunch energy crashes that are usually caused by excessive amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice, potatoes, and bread.
If there are no suitable options around your place of work and you can’t afford the delivery of healthy and nutritious meals every single day, then the only thing left for you is to prepare your own food and bring it to work.
Hopefully, there’s a fridge in your office kitchen where you can place your pre-made meals and just heat them up when lunchtime comes. Just make sure to transfer your meal to a real plate. Don’t heat it up in the plastic container.
If you are not particularly good at cooking, there are still plenty of healthy food options that you can resort to and easily bring to work. Here are a few examples:
- Fruits and vegetables (bonus points if you make your own salads)
- Nuts and seeds
- Oatmeal and other healthy cereals
- Vegetable or brown rice chips and crispies
- Some dairy products such as whole fat greek yogurts and Islandic Skyr
- Plant-based drinks and lactose-free milk
If you feel like cooking, then you can prepare for yourself lean proteins such as:
- Salmon fillets
- Beef burger patties
- Homemade meatballs
- Chicken breasts
Just pair any of these with your favorite grilled veggies or salad and you will have a perfect meal to enjoy at work.
How to make boring meals interesting
If you are used to eating fast food for lunch such as McDonald's or Domino's, then the transition to healthy food eating is probably going to be very hard for you. You are used to eating carb-rich foods with lots of salt and fat in them. Your brain is always craving those strong mouth-watering flavors and textures.
That is why eating healthy is going to be a bit boring at first but there are some ways to overcome this. If sheer willpower is not enough for you, then turn your attention to the world of spices and condiments. Some healthy condiments you can enjoy are:
- Tomato sauce
- Soy sauce
- Hot sauces
Spices that can help you with bland meals include:
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Chilli powder
- Curry powder
The problem with refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates such as sugar have been linked to heart disease. According to a study of 2018 by Norman J. Temple, saturated fats have falsely been blamed for causing coronary heart disease.
The evidence collected over the years suggests that refined carbohydrates and lack of fiber in the diet greatly contribute to heart disease. The link to the study provided is at the bottom.
Basically, all carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which we use for energy. However, refined carbs are stripped from the fermentable fiber that our gut bacteria enjoy.
The excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates and too little fiber leads to a toxic condition that destroys the inner lining of your gut which can greatly contribute to heart disease.
The problem with hydrogenated oils
When oils are treated with hydrogen, they become solid at room temperature. In the past, partially hydrogenated oils have been introduced as healthy alternatives to natural fats such as butter.
However, these so-called trans-fats have been found to be pretty much poisonous and causing heart disease.
Some countries have made trans fats illegal but they can still be found in various products such as cookies, cakes, and frozen pizzas.
According to Consumer Reports (link at the end), fully hydrogenated oils are not as bad as the partially hydrogenated ones but still increase your risk of heart disease.
Takeaways on eating healthy with a desk job
- Eating healthy as an office worker can be hard at first but this lifestyle change will dramatically improve your life and prolong it.
- You need to follow actionable strategies to avoid unhealthy food and focus on wholesome, minimally processed food.
- Eating healthy can be bland and boring at first but you can use condiments and spices to make your meals delicious.
- You will probably have setbacks and cheat on your new diet don't beat yourself about it and focus on getting back on track.
- Always read the labels and ingredients list of products in order to avoid hydrogenated fats, artificial sweeteners, and excessive amounts of sugar.
- A recent study on sugar and saturated fat, and their relation to heart disease:
- Consumer Reports on partially and fully hydrogenated fats