BE’s very own personal trainer gives us his top tips for healthy eating in lock down.
As well as onsite gyms in most of our centres, in some of City of London locations we offer clients free personal training with expert PT Hugh Brown. Hugh has shared with us some of his top tips for staying fit and healthy in lock down….
You’re on a conference call and somehow wandered into the kitchen. Next thing you know you’re eating biscuits or dry cereal out of the box.
Or maybe you got so caught up in a project that you suddenly realise you haven’t eaten a thing all day. Perhaps the “I’ll just have a handful of crisps as I work” mentality turned into accidentally eating the entire sharing-sized bag.
Keeping your nutrition in check can be tough when your home is your office. You feel comfortable and there’s plenty of food available, and unlike in the office, you’re free to graze all day as the fridge is all yours. But this habit can wreak havoc on your waistline, sabotage weight loss and affect your productivity.
The following tips will help you to avoid weight gain and increase productivity whilst working at home:
1. Try not to work in (or near) the kitchen
Try to set up your desk in an area that’s not near the kitchen. You might be tempted to wander over and check the fridge (for the tenth time) if it’s constantly in your line of vision. Decide that the only time you’ll be in your kitchen during the workday is to make a coffee or for a planned snack or meal. (More on that below!) If this is hard to follow, hang a sign on your fridge and pantry to remind you that the kitchen is closed until the next scheduled meal or snack.
2. Plan your snack and meal times
Just as you schedule and plan out the rest of your day (get up, workout, shower etc.), establish when throughout the day you’re going to eat. If you know you like to eat lunch around noon, plan for that. And if you like to have a snack in the late afternoon, plan for that as well. Treat food like you would in the office. You don’t graze all day long when you’re there so act the same way at home.
3. Watch your caffeine intake
Having access to endless cups of coffee or tea might seem like a great idea, but tread carefully when it comes to caffeine. Too much is known to cause headaches, anxiety, digestive issues and even fatigue – none of which are ever good, but particularly not good when you’re trying to work. Aim for no more than two cups of coffee per day to avoid the jittery feeling and avoid flavoured creamers and other high calorie add-ins! Be careful too about a caffeine cut off time, too much caffeine during the day could lead to sleeplessness at night. Be aware of your caffeine deadline.
43. Make sure you actually eat
Once you’re focused it can often be hard to take a break to eat. But it’s important to know your hunger signs and realise that not eating can affect your alertness and productivity. Plus, eating throughout the day can save you from being a big angry mess once 5 o’clock rolls around. If needed, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and eat something. You should be taking regular screen breaks anyway and of course keeping well hydrated with plenty of water (see below).
5. Prepare your lunches
There’s something liberating about being able to whip up whatever you want to eat for lunch (and not having to stand in line for the work microwave is a huge bonus). But for some people, the freedom is too much, especially when it comes to weekday lunches. If you can, try to prep your lunches ahead of time, just like you would on days you physically go to work. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy either. A bag of lettuce, pre-cut veggies, grilled chicken and nuts is a simple form of meal prep that takes out all the guess work. Or maybe you’ve decided that you’re going to make a veggie omelette every day for lunch. Pre-cut the vegetables ahead of time so you can quickly cook up a healthy and delicious lunch.
6. Focus on real food
Balanced, nutritious food makes us more productive. It keeps us fuller longer and helps us focus. Understand that what you eat will impact your mood and energy levels. Think about this the next time you’re hungry and just want to grab a handful of chocolate from the treats cupboard. Focus on protein, fibre, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. Planning a menu ahead of time will make it easier to avoid noshing on whatever looks tastiest and quickest in the moment.
7. Drink plenty of water
Dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue, which seriously inhibit productivity. Just as you’d fill up a water bottle at the office to keep at your desk, keep water next to your work station at home too. If you have water readily available, chances are you’re more likely to drink it, helping you reach your goal of at least 1.5 litres per day. Stay away from sugar-loaded fizzy drinks and juice, both of which can cause you to crash later!
7. Don’t buy junk food
Don’t stock your fridge or pantry like a vending machine. This can lead to eating rubbish just because you can! Try your best to keep junk food out of your house, especially foods you know can trigger a binge for you. Out of sight, out of mind. If it’s not there you can’t be tempted.
9. Separate eating from working
You might be tempted to continue working through your lunch break now that your co-workers aren’t physically there. But don’t do it! Being distracted during a meal can lead to over-eating and decreased satiety (satisfaction and fullness) from the meal. Instead, take a break from work to sit down at a table to enjoy your lunch (perhaps outside, weather permitting) and relax for a few minutes. You’ll enjoy the meal more, and it will help you feel more prepared for the rest of your working day.
10. Watch your portion sizes
Never eat out of the bag or original container, as it’s much harder to control portions that way. Check the serving size on the container if you need extra guidance. For meals, try the healthy plate method: Half fill a plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth of the plate with a lean protein (poultry, seafood, beans, eggs, tofu, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt) and one-fourth of the plate with a high fibre carbohydrate (fruit, whole grains or starchy vegetables).
Stay well everyone!
Images courtesy of Press Association