In a post-pandemic world, more people are working from home or adopting a hybrid approach to work than ever before. While this offers many benefits in terms of time-saving from commuting, flexibility and comfort, it also has potential downsides.
You’ve probably been sacrificing your healthy eating habits in favour of on-demand meal delivery options, skipped meals or fast food alternatives.
When you break your diet down into simple and actionable steps, it becomes easier to be consistent with – and we know that consistency is key to building good habits.
Let’s dive into our top tips for eating healthily when you’re working from home.
1. Prep Ingredients In Advance.
Before you panic or tune out, I’m not suggesting that you must batch-cook a whole week of meals in advance.
That approach gets very boring very quickly.
You get sick of eating the same Bolognese every day, and by the time Thursday rolls around, you’re likely to throw your pre-prepped meal straight in the bin and reach for Uber Eats instead.
Here’s how to go about it:
1. Prep A Protein.
Choose a source of lean protein that will store well in a plastic container for a couple of days once cooked. Chicken, tofu, tempeh, lentils or beans work well.
Buy a premium can of tuna canned tuna or salmon for a low-maintenance, healthy option that doesn’t need to be cooked.
2. Chop Up Your Veggies.
When you’ve done your weekly shop (more on this later), come home and dice, slice or chop your chosen veggies.
- Portion them out for each day of the week and stash them in reusable airtight bags.
This way, when it comes to mealtimes, you simply have to dump your pre-prepared veggies in a pan, removing the need to peel and chop them every time.
You can improve meal variety by playing some switcheroo. For example, you can swap your dressing or sauce to make each dish taste completely different.
3. Prepare A Carbohydrate Source.
Whether you enjoy rice, quinoa, pasta, legumes, or sweet potato, batch-cook your preferred carbohydrate ahead of time.
- Most carbs cook quickly and last up to 7 days in the fridge.
This means you can whip up a big batch of whatever you please before the start of the week, and you’ve got the base of your meals ready to go!
By implementing these three simple steps ahead of your WFH workweek, you cut down the cooking time of each meal by 40-60%.
Ingredient prep is simple, fast, and removes:
- The pressure to cook each meal from scratch.
- The temptation to skip cooking a healthy meal “because I don’t have the time”.
2. Grocery Shop With A Strategy.
Never do your weekly grocery shop without a plan or a strategy! This is your chance to get ahead for the week and arm yourself with everything you need for a week’s worth of healthy, simple meals.
Before your weekly grocery shop, write a list of all the ingredients you plan to prep for the week ahead:
- List your proteins, your veggies, your carb sources, and any ingredients you could use in different sauces and dressings throughout the week.
- Think about what you’ll snack on – fruits, boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, avocado or peanut butter on toast and smoothies are great options to get you started.
- Hit the shops armed with your list and a snack – because we all know shopping on an empty stomach never leads to healthy or wise decisions!
Order a few meals from a meal delivery service to ensure you have a few emergency rations on standby. Ready-to-eat meals should not become your primary source of nutrition, but they can offer a fantastic fall-back option when your 30-minute sales meeting blows out to 2 hours.
3. Don’t Eat At Your Desk!
People who work from home often fall into the habit of never leaving their home office.
Taking even 10 minutes away from your desk to enjoy your meal mindfully and get some fresh air has two key benefits for your health.
(Recommended: 7 Stylish Home Office Ideas).
1. Improved Digestion.
Mindful eating, or the practice of truly focusing on your food, has been shown to:
- Improve eating behaviours.
- Enhance your ability to recognise feelings of fulness and satiety.
- Increase your control over your eating and food choices.
- Prevent emotional eating.
Take the time to chew each bite slowly and appreciate all the sensations it affords you without distraction.
This will improve digestion and allow your body to better absorb the nutrients you’re supplying it with.
2. Improved Productivity.
Taking a brief break from your work to get outside or enjoy your food has been proven to be beneficial for your concentration and productivity.
While you may feel that tearing yourself away from your desk will interrupt your flow or reduce your productivity, the opposite tends to occur.
(Related: How Long Should You Stand At A Standing Desk?)
4. Be Careful With Fads.
People who commit to working on eating healthily or adopting a healthier lifestyle tend to go to extremes.
They often cut out foods or entire food groups, never allow themselves to enjoy treat foods, or adopt strict, excessive exercise regimes.
- In most cases, none of this is necessary or even beneficial!
Many people are convinced that following strict diets such as the ketogenic (keto) diet, which aims to obtain roughly 70-80% of your daily energy intake from fats, 10-20% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates, is the most effective dietary pattern for promoting weight management.
While the keto diet may be appropriate for some people, especially people struggling with high blood glucose, insulin resistance or diabetes, this diet, and most others, are not the best approach to eating healthily while you’re working from home.
In short, restriction and deprivation have the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for.
- Allow yourself some “fun foods” amongst all the healthy, nutritious whole foods you include in your meals, ingredient prep and weekly shop.
- Add a packet of chocolate to your trolley, and indulge in a Tim Tam with your afternoon cuppa if you feel called to it.
- Make sure you’re prioritising the nutrient-dense whole foods and allowing yourself a few added extras along the way.
Balance is the key to consistency, and consistency is the key to maintaining a good diet while working from home.
Final Words About Eating Well While Working From Home.
Working from home doesn’t have to complicate your food choices or add to the difficulty of eating healthily.
You can leverage the added flexibility, access to your kitchen, and time saved from your commute to prioritise small changes that improve your overall well-being.
Eat away from your desk, pre-prepare ingredients and shop consciously to ensure you stay on track and make choices that lead to improved productivity.