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How to Dine at your Desk


We all know it can be a challenge sometimes to sit at a desk all day. The following tips and tricks will help you to better manage these lifestyle challenges of office eating so that you can sustain your energy levels, work smarter and get more out of your day.


VENDING MACHINES, OFFICE TROLLEYS AND TUCK SHOPS


Most of the foods available are high in vegetable oils, possible trans fats, sodium and/or sugar and have basically no nutritional value, devoid of fibre and vitamins.

Eating these foods on a regular basis may result in erratic blood sugar levels, leaving you with low energy, irritability, poor concentration, weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks and stroke, gout, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases. Yikes!


What to do:

Before heading to the snack shack or vending machine ask yourself if maybe you just need a break from what you are doing. Get up from your desk, do a quick stretch or go for a short walk outside and get some fresh air. This may be all you need to feel more energized.

Drink a glass of water as you might simply be dehydrated.

Do not allow yourself skip meals. Hungry people tend to make unhealthy food choices, particularly if tempting snacks are readily available.


CAFFEINE-RICH DRINKS

Although tea, coffee and cocoa contain beneficial flavonoids and other antioxidants, the caffeine content limits their benefit. Over consumption of caffeine often goes hand in hand with over consumption of sugar and refined unhealthy snacks like cookies. Excess caffeine intake may cause feelings of anxiety, increased blood pressure, insomnia and headaches. It can also be a digestive system irritant, causing heartburn, cramping or diarrhea in sensitive individuals.


What to do:

Before having a cup of tea or coffee, go for a short walk or a breath of fresh air as it may be all you need.

Limit yourself to three cups of java per day. Hot chocolate made with quality cocoa can be enjoyed occasionally as a little treat, cola drinks and energy drinks should not be consumed on a regular basis.

Avoid coffee and tea creamers, as they are processed, high in saturated and trans fats, which increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and stroke. If you need to add something to your tea or coffee choose full fat milk or creamers from quality sources.

Ideally skipping sugar would be your best bet but if you need a little sweet use honey or maple syrup and avoid any artificial sweeteners that can be full of aspartame.

With every cup of coffee or tea, drink a glass of water to quench your thirst.

During cold and flu season, try hot water with a slice of lemon, orange or fresh ginger in it. Herbal teas also count as water.


MEETINGS

If I had a dark chocolate bar for every time I heard about the muffins and donuts at meetings...The challenge with meetings is that either unhealthy foods are provided or none at all. Foods on offer during meetings typically are highly refined and high in processed fats. This can limit productivity and creativity – how sharp do you feel after a muffin with 4 tablespoons of sugar? - and promote, of course, weight gain.


What to do:

Be proactive and if possible, organize healthy food platters for meetings. Source various catering outlets that provide delicious smart snack platters.

Suggested snack platter items to your usual caterer: cucumber strips, cherry tomatoes, hummus, celery sticks, berries, boiled eggs, chicken strips, grapes, snap peas, baby corn, pineapple, sweet peppers, smoked salmon, etc. Yummy and very power suit-friendly!

Keep your own healthy snacks on hand to consume during or between back-to-back meetings.

Ensure that water is available in all meetings along with the tea and coffee.

Rather have a smart snack before meetings and then a beverage during the meeting.

If you have to eat from less than ideal food platters, fill your plate of food once, keeping in mind that half should be vegetables or fruit. In this way, you end up eating a fairly balanced meal rather than too many high fat, high carbohydrate snacks if you nibble continuously.

If there are four or fewer of you who need to have a meeting, consider going for a walk while addressing the issues at hand. This helps to reduce unhealthy snacking – and, bonus, it spurs creativity and let's everyone know that workplace wellness it part of the company values.


TRAVELLING

This is a tricky one. Time zone changes on top of the usual work stresses really make this a tough challenge for my corporate clients. Whether you spend a lot of time in a car or hotels, or fly across time zones, travelling disrupts your usual eating routine and can play havoc with healthier food choices.

What to do:

The biggest challenge with meals served on airplanes is the almost complete lack of vegetables and fresh fruit. Make sure you do eat all the salad and vegetables that are served, or ask for the vegetarian option.

Should you wish to have a meal before boarding a plane, choose a salad-based meal with a small protein serving.

Meal timing is the other challenge when travelling. A main meal should only be consumed four to five hours after the last main meal. Should you be served a meal one to two hours after a large meal, treat this meal as a snack, rather than consuming the whole meal.

If you have the time, prepare flight friendly meals and bring them with you. Salads, chopped veggies, boiled eggs and some fruit can be brought on the plane with you. Pack a small lunch bag and bring a ziplock or reusable sealable bag and once you are through security you can ask for some ice at one of the restaurants or kiosks on the other side to keep your snacks fresh and chilled.

Fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are strictly speaking too energy dense. Make water your beverage of choice. If you must indulge, match every alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

Drinking enough water is very important, as long flights are particularly dehydrating. Have a glass of water every hour or so.

Movement is also important on long flights, once you've had your hourly glass of water, get up and move around walk the isles, do a few squats, keep the blood flowing.

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