There are plenty of benefits to working from home — there’s having a commute measured in seconds, being more available for your family, and having more flexibility in your schedule. But there can also be tricky situations to navigate: rolling out of bed five minutes before your first call of the day, fewer options for physical activity, or working from the couch can become habits that have negative effects on your health.
Another major change for many new-to-telework people is in the area of food. And there are some potential benefits! At many workplaces, freely available soda, candy, and other treats can be all too tempting. (And fewer in-person office celebrations and birthday parties means less office birthday cake that we feel obliged to eat.) At the same time, all-day access to one’s own kitchen presents plenty of temptations.
If you used to work in an office or at another job site, you may have been in the habit of bringing breakfast, lunch, and/or an afternoon snack to work. And when you’re working at home, planning ahead in the same way means that you can decide what you’re going to eat before you get too hungry — and this can lead to better portion control and more intentionally healthful choices.
Here are some tips:
• Keep in mind that eating a diet that is high fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is a key element of good health.
• Start on a day off, let’s say a Sunday, and take a look at your upcoming week. Choose a few meals that you know you’ll enjoy.
• Gather all your ingredients, prepare and cook what you can in advance, and store your ready-made meals in the fridge or freezer.
• You can prep just about anything: sandwiches, soups, and even leftovers (or “planned overs”).
• Planning meals is a great step toward making fewer impulsive choices that might be higher in excess sugar, salt, or fat (necessary parts of any diet, but frequently consumed in unhealthy amounts). When we’re hungry and in a hurry, we have a tendency to choose salty, sugary, fatty foods more often.
• Prepping meals in advance will allow you to plan for a varied diet that is flavorful, filling, and ready when you are.
Ready to jump into planning and prepping? Try starting with the most important meal of the day — breakfast! Breakfast is the meal that your body uses to wake up and get energized for the day. A donut won’t cut it if you want lasting energy. The ideas here pair protein-rich foods, like eggs and yogurt, with high-fiber foods, like oatmeal, to keep you feeling full until lunchtime. Try some of these tasty prep-ahead options for work-from-home mornings:
• Hard-boiled eggs and sliced fruit
• Toaster waffles with peanut butter
• Chunky oatmeal breakfast cookies
• Whole-grain oatmeal muffins
(Get more tips on making your work-from-home routine better for your overall health — read “Reevaluating Your Work-from-Home Routine.”)
After a morning busy with work, suddenly, it’s 12:30 p.m. and you’re starving. Rather than grabbing a frozen pizza or opening a bag of chips, plan ahead and prepare some tasty lunches that’ll keep you satisfied. As with breakfast, pairing protein-rich foods with fiber-rich fruits and vegetables helps you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy and focused. Here are some ideas:
• Vegetable bean soups, like minestrone, with whole grain bread
• Lean turkey or ham sandwiches
• Dinner leftovers (or “planned overs”)
• Quinoa salads
• Buddha bowls
• Taco salads
• Hummus wraps
When that mid-afternoon snack craving hits, you don’t have to reach for that dusty granola bar in your desk drawer. You’re working-from-home snacking can be intentional and enjoyable. Rather than mindless munching, plan your snacks, look forward to them, and enjoy them. Here are some options to consider:
• Cheese sticks with sliced fruit
• Peanut butter on celery slices
• Hummus with vegetables
• Mini charcuterie (think sliced turkey or ham, some small pieces of cheese, a few nuts or olives, and a couple of crackers)
• And don’t forget to wash it down with a glass of water (and to drink plenty of water throughout the day).
When you’re working from home, it’s helpful to try to maintain a routine, especially one that helps you live your healthiest life. If you can, take advantage of added flexibility by carving out time for physical activity (get that blood pumping — even five or ten minutes of exercise, or a short walk outside, can be very beneficial!) and mindfulness activities like meditation or yoga.
Do you have questions about how you can make strides toward your health goals? Carbon Health primary care providers are ready to help you make informed decisions and partner with you on your journey to better health. Make a same-day virtual or in-person appointment today.