Nutrition When Working From Home
Every single one of us will be changing a lot of our routines, habits and lifestyle for the next few months. Now is the time to set up new routines which are going to support us over the next few months. We will be able to exercise at home, we will be able to eat healthy meals, we may find we have more time to do things for ourselves.
An important thing to remind yourself of is that you are in control and to think of the things you CAN do, rather than focus on what you can’t do and what is out of your control.
Things You Within Your Control
Try to base meals on around protein and plants (fruit and veggies) with wholefood carbs and healthy fats
Weigh or measure your portions and aim for consistency that helps you remain within your daily calorie target
Eat slowly, eat until satisfied rather than stuffed, pause between bites, remove distractions, de-stress and eat in a calm manner.
Meal Frequency & Total Calorie Intake:
Maintain a consistent routine around your main meal times and try to reduce unnecessary snacking.
Remember - just because you may not be training the way you normally would, it isn’t a licence to forget about your nutrition. It’s more important than ever to stay healthy with a diet focused on protein and plant-based whole foods. Not caring about your nutrition simply because you can’t train optimally is just like spending all your money because you don’t have an income. Both eating healthy and being mindful of your money are relevant right now - and your health is perhaps the most important it’s ever been.
New Challenges And Temptations
With working from home or being home more often, there will be new challenges and temptations. You can use this as a time to develop skills in identifying barriers, problem-solving and coming up with possible solutions to test out. That’s what we all need to do now - identify barriers, test solutions.
Being at home a lot more could lead to these barriers with these potential solutions:
Barrier: More temptation to eat being near the kitchen
Solution: Creating a supportive environment starts with shopping. Buy foods which support you (protein & plants) and limit purchases of foods which you struggle with appropriate portions. With your indulgences, if you do have them at home, keep them out of sight.
Barrier: Less routine leading to more snacking
Solution: Maintain your meal schedule. How many meals do you usually eat in a day? Continue your usual habits with meal frequency. Me personally, it’s 4 meals around 4 hours apart. That gives me a solid time structure with my meals and if I’m thinking about food in between meals, it’s just a time to test hunger and see that it does come and go.
Solution: Calorie-free liquids. Boredom hunger can often be quenched with a glass of water or a sugar-free soft drink/cordial.
Barrier: Overeating is easier, as there is always something else to eat. Eg. you find yourself going for seconds, adding a dessert to more meals than usual > Mindful eating - eat slowly, taste the food, try to focus on the flavours, try to notice how it makes you feel and when you start feeling full.
Solution: When you portion out your meals put all the leftovers away before you start eating. It’s tempting when the food is still warm in the kitchen to have another plate.
Building Healthy Habits
Top seven tips when working from home
(I tried to come up with a cool acronym and I got as far as "ROPECAM")
Create a routine for yourself. It will help you stay productive with your time. Working from home sounds great in regards to flexibility, but too much flexibility has its pitfalls. Try to create some structure around your day. Set a morning routine. A workout routine. A nightly/pre-bed routine. A series of steps that flow to help you build healthy habits and actually give yourself more free time and energy.
For example: My morning routine is wake up, shower, stretch, breathwork, kettle on, make the bed, make a coffee, journal, emails then get stuck into my first bit of work for the day.
My evening routine is stretch, shower, tea (peppermint, decaf or chamomile), read some fiction in bed, sleep playlist on Spotify, lights out (no screens for the last hour).
Plan Your Meals and Your Day
The more decisions you need to make in a day, the more draining it becomes. This is known as decision fatigue. Imagine getting later in the day and you have a choice between a piece of fruit and some chocolate. If you have less energy, less willpower, you may be more inclined to choose the chocolate. Having a plan for your meals and for your day means your decisions are already made for you. Saving you time and energy whilst staying aligned with your healthy eating goals. Try to have some sort of a plan for what you’re going to do that day as well and slot your meals in there. I use the Pomodoro Technique of dividing my time into small blocks to minimise any procrastination.
|5am - 6am||Morning routine|
|6am - 8am||Work|
|8am - 9am||Breakfast - salmon, eggs, veggies|
|9am - 11am||Work|
|11am - 12pm||Walk and listen to podcast|
|12pm - 1pm||Lunch - chicken, salad, potatoes|
|1pm - 3pm||Work|
|3pm - 3.30pm||Snack - yoghurt, berries, fruit and oats|
|3.30pm - 4.30pm||Exercise|
|4.30pm - 5.30pm||Work|
|5.30pm - 6.30pm||Dinner - Turkey mince, veggies, beans|
|6.30pm - 7.30pm||Household chores and/or Netflix|
|7.30pm - 9pm||Bedtime routine|
Set up your environment to be conducive to your goals. If you struggle with temptation, try not to buy those foods and keep them in the house in the first place to remove the temptation. Aim to keep foods that are aligned with your goals in your immediate environment and easy to prepare. Maintain a base of protein and plants in your fridge, cupboard, freezer and pantry. Keep a variety of the ones you enjoy.
If tempting foods are in the environment try to make them less visible and harder to obtain. Remember if a food is in your environment, it is only a matter of time before you, someone you love or someone you mildly tolerate is going to eat it. Try to do the same with your work and training environment - remove distractions so you remain focused and productive. Leave your phone in another room. Turn notification off on your phone for a while. Set a limit for social media apps. Become a choice architect and make your life a little bit easier with how you design your environment.
Even though you may not be able to go to the gym, you can still get something done to maintain your physical and mental health. Remember something is better than nothing. Think about “done, instead of perfection”.
Set up a home gym. You might not have any equipment except a towel - but lay it out where you will do your exercise. Try the same routine as if you were going to the gym, have your coffee and/or pre-workout snack. Play your favourite ‘pump up’ song. Get your shoes and workout clothes on. Get into the mentality that you are not just doing a few minutes of exercise but you are going to the gym, you are getting prepared and make each exercise count.
You may find that you have more time. Less travel to and from work or the gym. You get things done quicker at home without colleagues distracting you. Try to use this time wisely and productively. For once, the excuse of having no time is no longer relevant. Take it as an opportunity to get things done you normally don’t have the chance to do.
Spend more time in the kitchen. Get creative with recipes and meal prep.
Work on your mobility. Get swole and flexy with apps like RomWod or GoWod
Study or learn something you’ve always wanted to learn like a new language.
Read a book(s) you’ve wanted to for a while. Try a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.
Be aware of how you feel, what you do, why you do things and even when you tend to do certain behaviours. Journalling can be a great strategy to implement this. Writing everything you do in a day, everything you eat and drink in a day - then do a little audit.
Mindful eating is also a great habit to practice. Eat slowly, mindful, with purpose and intention.
If you notice yourself getting stressed, take some time out for yourself. Use the time to build a new positive behaviour that helps you de-stress and improve your mental health.
Try some mindfulness apps like:
- Waking Up
- Smiling Mind
- Wim Hof
Communication & Connection
It’s important to stay connected to our friends, family and colleagues. We may not be able to be physically connected but we can still text, call or facetime not only 1 on 1 but in a group setting. Try to keep in contact with those you regularly speak to or even someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. If you can’t get to the pub for a beer with your mates, crack one at home on a video chat. If you can’t have a coffee with your friend, enjoy a freshly brewed cup on Skype. Try to keep deep connections where possible to maintain your social and emotional health.
With it being an unknown length of time this may be in place, it's important to try and build these new habits early for your new setting and circumstances.