I have struggled with achieving a healthy work-life balance for years.
In the last year, I realized that running my business had taken over my life and crushed all other priorities including my health. It took a season of severe anxiety to make me realize that I wasn’t taking care of myself.
I was always feeling exhausted. I was more sedentary than I’d ever been. I was disinterested in most things that usually give me joy.
My season of self-care has been a challenge, but I feel the difference.
A handful of my new priorities are eating better, sleeping more, and prioritizing spending time away from screens. Surprisingly, eating better has been one of the more predominant challenges for me. I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, I love salty snacks, and water is the last thing I want to be drinking during the day.
It’s all about adopting new habits that lead to greater lifestyle changes, and there are several habits you can adopt for yourself even if you don’t work from home.
1 | Think Healthy Choices, Not Diet
I’m not going to get into the diet debate and argue whether diets are scientifically proven to be effective or ineffective. Diets just don’t work for me. I don’t have the discipline, and I don’t have the desire to turn eating into a restricting or negative experience. Give yourself options, and strive to make healthier choices instead.
Rather than stocking up on processed foods that you can microwave quickly, slow-cook chicken breasts and make a large salad ahead of time that you can stretch out as your convenience food for the week. Instead of buying soda for every lunch, keep a water bottle nearby.
2 | Shop Strategically
Stop shopping on an empty stomach when cravings are at their worst, and stop filling your shelves with the junk you know you shouldn’t be eating. I know that if I buy bags of chips, I’m going to eat them even if I do have a healthier choice available. Granted, I’ll buy corn chips and salsa because it’s a healthier choice compared to most crackers.
In fact, avoid shopping the aisles of the grocery store first. Start in the produce section and stock up on vegetables. Not a fan of salads? Make a wrap filled with greens and sandwich meats instead. Pick up eggs and lean meats for your typical protein-packed meals. Save the aisles for last so your meal planning will prioritize the healthier choices.
3 | Pack A Filling Lunch
Don’t make the common mistake of packing a limiting lunch for work. You’ll be tempted to eat out for lunch, and cravings may cause you to snack on the wrong things when available. When portion-control is a concern, it’s better to pack a lunch primarily with small healthy snacks than to restrict yourself to a smaller lunch.
A filling packed lunch should feature a protein like a chicken or salmon salad, turkey wrap, or egg dish like quiche. Small portioned healthy snacks could include nuts, fruit, raw carrots or peppers, a granola or protein bar, and a hard-boiled egg.
4 | Eat A Quick Breakfast At Home
This is where I struggle the most. I love breakfast foods, but I’m rarely hungry first thing in the morning and the last thing I want to do in the morning is cook. During my corporate days, I’d make overnight oats that I could heat up and eat at my desk later in the morning when I was hungry. But what if you can’t eat at your workspace?
You can make egg muffins packed with meat or veggies ahead of time. You can make breakfast burritos ahead of time. You can make breakfast fruit and oatmeal cookies ahead of time. The options are limitless. The key is to make these options earlier in the week to grab and eat quickly before heading to work.
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5 | Keep Healthier Snacks Nearby
I picked up this not-so-healthy eating habit from my mom. She’d keep a drawer full of crackers in her desk, and that was more often than not her lunch. There’s nothing wrong with keeping snacks near your workspace to curb hunger and keep you focused; however, we can do better than a drawer full of Triscuits and Goldfish crackers.
Unsalted or lightly salted nuts and seeds, trail mix, dried fruit or fruit cups (packed with water if possible!), applesauce, a small container of peanut butter to dip apple slices in, rice cakes, and tuna packets are great options that you can keep in your workspace for a quick and healthier snack on your break.
6 | Drink More Water
You’ve heard it before. You’re going to hear it again. Drinking more water will keep you fuller longer, keep your focus and energy up, and keep you from gaining weight from sugary or carbonated drinks.
Don’t get me wrong, my beverage of choice in the mornings is coffee and that will likely never change. I choose to drink more water during the afternoons instead of soda, juices, or energy drinks. This is another one of those healthier choices that has so many instant benefits that it’s an easy choice for me.
I challenge you to make healthier choices this week to eat better at work even if it’s just keeping a water bottle close by.
What other healthy choices have helped you eat better at work?