There’s this very fun transformation your body goes through when you move from Australia to London – it’s affectionately named ‘the Heathrow Injection’. It’s defined as: “the phenomenon of rapid weight gain experienced by a non-British person upon settling in London, attributed to a busy schedule encouraging the consumption of convenience food.”
It doesn’t just target Antipodeans though; anyone who works in a fast-paced industry will understand how difficult it can be to stay healthy at work; especially with high streets that are covered with affordable unhealthy options. Here are some tricks and tips for eating healthly in the workplace – and some of them will save a few pennies too!
Sunday is a day of rest and meal prep.
Contrary to what the bible may say, Sunday is not just a day of rest – it’s a day for meal prepping. For those of you who are new to the term, it’s pretty self-explanatory – you are prepping your meals for the week. It’s one of the easiest ways to stay healthy in the workplace – and save some money.
If you’re not a great cook, just like myself, Pinterest is a great option for finding easy-to-cook recipes. I’ve got two salads I make on rotation: a spicy kale and quinoa black bean salad and a southwestern kale power salad. If you have a slow cooker (they’re cheap from Argos!), there’s a three-bean chilli that I love, or a chicken, kale and sweet potato stew. Slow cookers are great time savers, as you can leave them to cook for however many hours, while you go and complete other tasks. If you want something that feels a bit more hearty (or you’re just a burger addict like I am), give these spinach feta turkey burgers a whirl.
Shop at places like ASDA, Lidl or Aldi. My current budget for work lunch ingredients is £12 per week and I’ve managed to stick to that by shopping in these supermarkets. This is a saving of £3 per week when compared to buying the Tesco or Sainsbury’s meal deals 5 days a week. This may not seem like much, but over the course of a year that’s a saving of £720.
BYOS: Bring your own snacks
We’re all likely to get a bit peckish throughout the work day – it’s natural. Some workplaces (like mine) provide fruit, carrots and hummus; that’s what I go to when the 3pm slump hits. If your work doesn’t, bring some of your own fruit, or even create your own trail mix. I used to buy packs of kids sultanas (they’re very cheap for multipacks) and keep them in my drawer. And make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day (6-8 glasses), often when you’re feeling peckish, you’re actually just a bit dehydrated.
These boots were made for walking
Change the boots for sneakers, and get yourself moving! Last summer, during the lovely warm months, I walked to and from work every day, shedding weight and saving money on travel. If you live within walking distance to work (my walk takes roughly an hour, compared to a 45-minute bus commute) consider walking it. For roughly three months in a row, I spent nothing on transport during the working week and I managed to walk 55 kilometres each week – that’s 34 miles for you Brits.
If you’re a bit further out, consider walking for a portion of your commute, especially in the more expensive zone 1 areas. Maybe to a spot that’s close enough to get a bus (it’s only £1.50 one way), or even just get off a few stops earlier than usual and walk the remainder of the way.
If it really is impossible, contemplate walking on your lunch break. Not only will it give you a nice break from that stale office air and staring at your computer screen, but it’s also an opportunity to hang out with your colleagues…and turn them from colleagues to friends and maybe into work wives!
Get a breath of fresh air
Sometimes at work, you need to get a breath of fresh air – both literally and metaphorically. Being in the exact same environment day in, day out can be exhausting. Take advantage of your work’s flexible working hours. Work from home whenever possible. This isn’t necessarily being healthy at work, but working from home will save you money on travel, you can cook a fresh lunch (or have leftovers) and it’s a great way to get some focused work done in a different environment.
TOP TIP: If working from home isn’t an option. Ask about hot desking, sometimes you need a change of scenery to hit refresh on your brain.
Position yourself correctly
It’s not the first thing you think of when you think about working towards being healthy at work, but it’s still one of the most important – your posture. Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which in turn affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. Studies have also linked excessive sitting to being overweight, obese, type 2 diabetes, developing some forms of cancer and early death. None of those things sound particularly fun, so it’s good to make sure when you’re sitting, you’re doing it in the best possible way for your body.
First, make sure your lower back is supported correctly. Change the back position, height and tilt to reduce the stress on your back. If your feet don’t touch the ground (which they should), use a footrest. The height should be adjusted so you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor – your arm should form an L-shape at the elbow. The top of your computer screen should be roughly at eye level and an arm’s length away. Try to take frequent short breaks from your computer – it’s better for your back than longer ones. Maybe set an alarm every hour to get up and go for a quick stroll around the office.
When you switch off, really switch off
People are increasingly failing to disconnect from work after hours and on the weekend – resulting in emotional exhaustion, anxiety, depression and even coronary heart disease. In a survey of 2,000 UK workers, two-thirds of them said they checked their emails outside of working hours five times a day, and one-third said they can’t switch off when they’re at home. Even the expectation that employees should check their email outside of work play havoc with their wellbeing, their work-family balance and can weaken their work performance as well. Talk to your manager about what they expect outside of hours – sometimes it’s a necessity, but you shouldn’t be switched on all the time. Separate your work self from your home self – sometimes it’s as simple as switching your work phone off as soon as you leave on Friday. There is little that is so important it can’t wait for Monday.
It’s not impossible to be healthy at work – it just takes good planning. And with all the money you save from your genius planning – treat yo’ self. To more healthy snacks, to a glorious back massage, to a trip away. The possibilities are endless.
Words by Kate Edwina