A GUIDE TO Healthy “DESK DINING”


We all recognize the challenges of being at a desk for the majority of the day. The following guidelines will help you to better manage these lifestyle challenges of office eating so 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 on offer are high in saturated and total fat, sodium and/or sugar, and virtually 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.
What to do:
¨ Before grabbing a snack, consider whether you rather need a break from what you’re doing. Going for a short walk or getting a breath of fresh air may be all you need to feel re-energized.
¨ Drink a glass of water as you may simply bedehydrated.
¨ Do not allow yourself to 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 otherantioxidants, the caffeine content limits their benefit. Overconsumption of caffeine often goes hand in hand with overconsumption of sugar and refined unhealthy snacks such as biscuits. Excess caffeine intake may cause feelings of anxiety, increasedblood 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, cola drinks, and energy drinks should not be consumed on a regular basis, but rather as an occasional treat.
¨ Avoid coffee and tea creamers, as they are high in saturated and trans fats, which increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, and stroke.
¨ Skip the sugar. The total daily sugar intake for an adult should be less than 10% of total energy, which equates to eight teaspoons of sugar per day for women and 12 teaspoons for men.
¨ 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 fat. 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, organise 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 unhealthy food platters, fill a 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 is part of the company values.
TRAVELING
This is a tricky one. Time zone changes on top of the 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, traveling disrupts your usual eating routine and can play havoc with healthier food choices.
What to do:
¨ The biggest challenge with meals served on aeroplanes 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 traveling. 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.
¨ Fruit juices, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages are, strictly speaking, too energy dense. Make water your beverage of choice. If you must imbibe, 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 for every hour or so.
What do you do to stay healthy while at work or on travel? I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below.

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