by Selva Wohlgemuth, Co-op News contributor
Selva Wohlgemuth, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist
Dear Nutritionist: What is your top recommendation for a healthy start in the New Year?
Dear Member: The short answer is to change your weekday routine into a healthy routine! Make every workday count!
Many of us spend most of our working hours sitting and typing. In addition, work environments can greatly impede the ability to make easy healthy choices. Therefore, it is important to become an advocate for your own health. This perspective alone can greatly enhance wellness throughout the workday.
Planning in advance can be the biggest first step towards an enhanced daily work routine. Many people may get breakfast on the go (or skip it completely), eat lunch out, and snack on processed goodies between meals. These eating habits can be positively changed by following seven tips towards workday wellness.
Always Take Time to Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Eating breakfast in the morning can help your mind and body stay fit and fueled throughout the day. Skipping breakfast entirely or grabbing a coffee and a muffin can cause your blood sugar to roller coaster and your energy level to wane. Adding protein to your morning meal can balance blood sugar levels and stabilize appetite. Some meal ideas include:
- Two-egg veggie scramble with corn tortillas and refried beans
- Apple and two tablespoons peanut butter
- Steel-cut oats with chopped almonds, ground flaxseed, berries, and plain Greek yogurt
- Chia seed pudding with coconut milk and bananas
- Whole-wheat toast topped with avocado, soft boiled eggs, sliced tomato, salt and pepper
- Dinner leftovers!
Arm Yourself with Healthy Snacks
When hunger strikes between meals, it is best to be prepared. Stocking healthy snacks at work, whether in the staff refrigerator or in your drawer, can set you up for success. Bring a bag of fresh cut veggies and hummus, whole fruit, nuts, or seeds for easy eating.
Know All Your Ingredients
Although the best option is to bring lunch from home, it can be difficult to always be prepared. Therefore, create a list of restaurants or grocery stores nearby that offer whole food choices. If you can identify every ingredient in your meal, then you are in the clear! Plus you get the benefit of walking back and forth.
Build the Perfect Work Lunch
A good starting point is to make sure you have all your macronutrients covered in your meal: complex carbohydrate, protein, and fat … and of course plenty of veggies. An easy rule to live by is 2 cups non-starchy veggies (variety is best), 1/2 to 1 cup whole grains/starchy veggies, 3 ounces of lean protein (fish, eggs, tempeh, legumes, chicken, etc.), and tasty fat-rich toppings (1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 avocado, or 1/4 cup nuts and seeds). This combo will help keep you full and fueled until dinner.
Bring a Water Bottle And Put It in Plain Sight
Staying adequately hydrated is key in monitoring appetite and staying focused. Keeping a water bottle on your desk can be an effective gentle reminder to drink throughout the day. Aim for 9 to 13 cups of fluid per day.
Adding 5-to-15-minute movement breaks into your day can help support circulation, reduce stress, and help regain focus. Try to break every one to two hours to stretch and move your legs. Great ways to add movement into your day include:
- Cut your lunch in half: eat the first half and walk the second
- Walk to your favorite lunch location
- Walk up and down a few flight of stairs
- Stretch at your desk.
Create a Spirit of Wellness
Sometimes the work environment is the most difficult aspect to change. Being an advocate for workday wellness can be challenging but may also inspire others to join. Even making simple changes in your day-to-day work routine can positively impact those around you.
A Recipe Suggestion
In the spirit of making lunches easy, quick, and tasty, I have a delicious recipe for you—Tuscan Bean & Pasta Salad. It meets the guidelines for building the perfect work lunch, and it is vegan and gluten-free to boot. You can even bring this to a work potluck because it keeps fresh like a charm.
Ask the Nutritionist
Have questions? Send them to [email protected]. Selva Wohlgemuth is a registered dietitian nutritionist. Learn more about her approach to general health and well-being at her Happy Belly Nutrition website, and see her recipes and other kitchen tips at Poppies and Papayas.